For months it’s had brown paper covering the windows and a sign promising they’d be opening soon. Every time we come through, my official hot dog taster – Carla – looks longingly. “When, when, for crying out loud!” She’d say, nose to the 901 bus window.
This time though, it's “Stop! Stop the bus! Bedford: Out!”
We're talking about Delux Dogs, on the main strip in Coronado (942 Orange Avenue, 619-319-5338). It’s a tiny little place with a huge door and a kinda blue concrete shield framing the entrance. Used to be Stretch’s health food café for the longest time.
Whatever, today they’re open, kind of. “Test Open,” says the sign up front. Meaning, I guess, soft, work out the kinks type of opening. A big vase of flowers welcomes you right where the row of stools face the ledge running along the left wall, and tables line the right wall. Somebody has drawn a huge “Delux Dogs” symbol in chalk behind the first two tables, and yes, they have sealed it so you can’t rub it off.
We sit at the first table. Carla decides on the Delux chili dog (“Our all-beef link with chili, cheese, onions, diced tomato and whipped crema, $6.25”), and I go for The Bordertown dog, (“bacon-wrapped and deep fried beef link with creamy nacho cheese sauce, hot sauce, guacamole, salsa fresca and jalapeño crema, $5.95”). Can’t resist that bacon. Plus, we can’t resist a side. Carla gets a basket of fries ($2.95), me, 50/50 potato tots. They’re half sweet potato, half standard, and come with “our home-made kicker sauce.” Cost $3.25.
Then, we lose all control and order their hand-squeezed lemon drink ($2.95). I get the “desert pear lemonade,” a pinky-looking mix with prickly pear juice mixed in, ($3.25).
One of the new crew, Bethany, brings our swag of food baskets and drinks.
Carla says hers is the most luxuriant dawg she’s had in a while. “It’s like a gentle sour cream,” she says about the Mexican crema squiggled on top.
Me, I love the whole gungy mess of my border town dog. Specially the bacon, of course. Plenty of guac, too. And those orange sweet-potato tater tots were da bomb.
“We’ll have our wine and beer license soon,” says Kirsten, when I spot her up with the soft opening welcome flowers with her manager Weslee.
Kirsten is one of the two owners (the other is James McGee. He cooks nights at Ruth’s Chris Steak House on Harbor Drive). They have been dreaming of doing this for years. “I’m originally from Chicago, so I know good hot dogs," says Kirsten. "We use Vienna brand links. And we’ll be looking at artisanal sausages too, soon. Basically, we just want to be the go-to place for hot dogs on the island. Becoming part of the community. Sponsoring Little League teams, giving back.”
Have to say, I ordered too much. Love the sweet tater tots, but shoulda held to the dog.
And afterwards, natch, I see the dogs I missed. Specially The Tokyo, which has teriyaki glaze, Japanese mayo, grilled onions, sesame seed, dried seaweed chips and sriracha. That would be interesting.
Also, I’m thinking if kids are part of the recipe here, the dawgs ain’t that cheap. Okay Delux will be facing Coronado-scale rent, but Carla and I pay over $25 for our bust-out.
Then again, yes, we did go for top dogs and those extras. We could’ve had the All-American, the basic, for $4.55. Or heck, a corn dog for $2.75.
Whatever, I wish them luck, and Carla wishes them closer to home. “Wanna try that griddle Polish sausage,” she says.
I can tell: we’re gonna be catching a lot of 901 stretch limos in the future.