Hot Dog Gods

I do wish the best of luck for Hot Dog Place because they need it. They're in the middle of a fancy shopping plaza that mostly serves San Juan Capistrano's well-to-do, people who don't care whatsoever for wieners not attached to a venture capitalist. It's on Rancho Viejo Road, the front road for the city's nouveau riche and across the street from a gated community. The building it occupies has already seen two failed restaurants in the past couple of years, including the wonderfully eclectic Sol del Sur—and if San Juan's notoriously snooty, middle-aged eaters couldn't appreciate such a place, what hope does a prole spot such as Hot Dog Place have?

On a recent evening, only a couple with a dog were at Hot Dog Place. And that's a damn shame. The creations here are delicious, better suited to standing across the street from Mission Viejo High or on PCH. Just as the name hints, it's mostly hot dogs—a simple all-beef frank, another with Italian sausage, a perfect chili cheese dog, the chili strong with cinnamon and other sweet spices. Innovation comes in the OC Street Dog, which takes a bacon-wrapped hot dog and adds an avocado to it—nothing that'll get these guys on The Great Food Truck Race, but perfect for a fast, delicious snack.

Hot Dog Place also does fine hamburgers, fries and a couple of other specials. But you're coming here for the hot dog bowls, an awesome spin on the already-tired bowl trend. The kitchen takes a pound of tater tots, slices up some hot dogs, then tops it with whatever toppings you want (decorate the results with the half-dozen or so mustards kept in the corner). It's a frat brother's dream come true: a glorious glop you swear you'll only eat half of, then keep picking at each crisped tater tot, each fulsome weenie, everything, until you've consumed the beast. These guys deserve all the luck of the world—now, let's see if the city responds. Really, guys, move to the Mexican side of town. There, you'd be hailed as GODS. . . .

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