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Urban Hotdog Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Let the Barking Begin! The Urban Hotdog restaurant is open as of October, 2012.


Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chicken pox
love hot dogs.
Armour Hot Dog Commercial, 1960s

Advertising standards in the 1960s were quite a bit more lax than they are today.  In today’s culture of American political correctness, there’s no way an earworm-inspiring jingle such as the Armour Hotdog commercial would ever see the light of day, but back then it helped sell a lot of hot dogs.  Even in the 1960s, Armour’s savvy ad agency undoubtedly understood the influence children had on the family’s food consumption budget.  In addition to catchy jingles designed to appeal to children, Armour’s advertising agency enticed children with prizes to be had for a monetary pittance and a coupon cut out from the back of a package of its hot dogs.  Not even parents were immune from Madison Avenue’s charms.  They were swayed by assurances that hot dogs were actually good for children because they were “made from lean meat” and were “protein rich.”

The 1963 United States census reported the production of 1.11 billion pounds of frankfurters and wieners, constituting thirty percent of all sausages made that year.  Two years later, a study by the US Department of Agriculture revealed that the household per capita consumption of hot dogs averaged nine pounds or about 75 hot dogs per family per year, numbers consistent regardless of socioeconomic status or region.  Interestingly, the world-champion gurgitator in the 1960s established a personal best of 18-1/2 hot dogs and buns in the International Hot Dog Eating Contest held at Nathan’s in Coney Island.  That’s less than a third the number of hotdogs consumed by today’s gurgitator extraordinaire Joey Chessnut.

The order counter at the Urban Hotdog

The 60s were also a time in which, for the most part, hot dogs were rather basic, lacking in imagination and flair.  The most common toppings were mustard (sometimes a deli variety) and relish.  Daring diners might add onions, sauerkraut or chili (not chile), hardly what you might consider gourmet ingredients.  Most hot dogs were prepared in boiling water though grilling was becoming increasingly popular.  Most were made from beef or pork. 

The advent of “gourmet” hot dogs can largely be attributed to the desire of immigrants and their descendents to incorporate their traditional foods and ingredients into a standard hot dog.  A Greek hot dog, for example, might include feta cheese, an olive tapenade and sun-dried tomatoes.  Mexican-style hot dogs might be served in tortillas and slathered with guacamole or (and) salsa.  Asian-style varieties frequently incorporate soy sauce, ginger, onions, teriyaki sauce and more.  Most varieties of gourmet hot dogs develop locally and spread across the region.  The best ones ultimately become national phenomena.

The Crunchy Onion Hotdog and baked beans

In 2007, my good friend Becky Mercuri published The Great American Hotdog Book, a terrific tome which takes readers on a state-by-state tour across America, introducing us to each state’s special take on this American comfort food classic (New Mexico’s contribution, by the way, was the red chile hotdog as prepared at Albuquerque’s Dog House Drive In).  Becky replicated each of the fifty unique ways to prepare hot dogs in her kitchen, finding that though a hot dog may be a source of pride for its state of origin, it doesn’t always export well.

My initial impression of the gourmet hotdogs offered at Albuquerque’s Urban Hotdog Company mirrors Becky’s findings.  Though most of the hotdogs will appeal to some diners, few will have a universal appeal though adventurous eaters will enjoy testing their mettle and taste buds.  As validated in Albuquerque The Magazine‘s “Best of the City” for 2013, Duke City diners love these hot dogs, naming them Albuquerque’s best.     The menu lists more than a dozen “urban dogs” with gourmet toppings heretofore not seen in the Duke City.   If you could go back in time to the 1960s and describe these hotdogs, you’d probably find yourself in a straightjacket.  There’s no way those of us who are products of the 60s could have conceived of such “weirdness.”

Rosemary-Garlic French Fries and Curry Hot Dog

If gourmet isn’t your style, you can also have a more “standard” hotdog, ranging from the “starter” made with your choice of mustard, ketchup, onion and relish to a Chicago Dog, described as it would be in the Windy City: “dragged through the garden.” The menu earns extra props from me by acknowledging its New Mexico adorned hot dog as “Real Chile,” made with white Cheddar cheese, green chile, tomato and onions. Alas, a grammatical faux pas is committed in that the “Other Chile” hotdog isn’t spelled “chili” even though the menu describes it as “East coast style chile.”

Each hotdog is made to order in a semi exhibition kitchen though most diners probably won’t stand behind the counter to observe the process.  Instead, most of us take the little three-by-five cards handed to us when we placed our orders and which are inscribed with the name of some city (Dallas, for example) to our table and place it in the card slot atop the napkin holder.  Expect to wait ten to fifteen minutes for your order to be ready.  That’s on top of the time you spend in line as diners ahead of you peruse the menu carefully (and painfully slowly if you’re hungry) before placing their orders.

Top: The Tiger
Bottom: Le Bleu

The Urban Hotdog Company has the look and feel of a sophisticated chain, but it is definitely and proudly local, procuring as many products locally as possible.  The corner space housing the restaurant is bright and airy courtesy of unobstructed sunlight filtering in from the east.  It’s open seating is more utilitarian than it is comfortable.  Large plastic menus are on display next to the counter where you place your order and there are also paper menus available for your perusal.  Your order is taken on an iPad configured with a point of sale software system.    An “expediter” stands watch over the kitchen to make sure all orders are comprehended and delivered accurately.  The self-serve beverage dispenser is in a small room adjacent to the open dining room.

9 October 2012: With my predilection for the “strangest” or most unique items on any restaurant menu, my inaugural visit proved a fun culinary adventure as well as a challenge.  How, after all, do you determine the strangest, most unique item on a menu replete with unique and different items?  The “tamest” of the four hotdogs I split with my Kim was the Crunchy Onion Hotdog crafted with fresh-fried Ancho chile dusted onion strings with the restaurant’s signature chipotle mayo.  Texturally the crunchy onions are a success, but neither the Ancho chile nor the chipotle mayo packed much discernible punch and were overwhelmed by the thick hot dog itself, a salty, garlicky and thick wiener with a lot of flavor.  The buns, made locally by Pastian’s Bakery, are soft and pliable, but substantial enough to hold in the copious ingredients of some hot dog creations.

UrbanHotDog06

Chorizo

9 October 2012: The Curry Urban Dog is a vegetarian delight, but it’s not a hotdog.  If you order it as it’s described on the menu, it’s made with marinated tofu grilled and served with green curry vegetables, chopped peanuts and cilantro on a poppy seed bun.  I made the mistake of ordering it hotdog style, effectively rendering the wonderful green curry vegetables anemic because of the overwhelming hotdog.  The green curry, chopped peanuts and cilantro are very much reminiscent of Thai curry dishes without a pronounced coconut milk flavor.  Marinated tofu is actually an excellent vehicle for these ingredients as tofu tends to inherit the flavor properties of ingredients around it. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for not having ordered the Curry as it’s designed.

9 October 2012: We had hopes the Le Bleu (fried hot dog wrapped in bacon and covered with sauteed mushrooms, blue cheese and thyme) would rekindle memories of the Sonoran hotdogs we enjoyed so much in Tucson.  It didn’t, but this hotdog is a standout on its own.  The sharp, pungent blue cheese is a perfect foil for the garlicky hotdog while the sauteed mushrooms play a deliciously complementary role.  This is the one hotdog in which the wiener itself didn’t dominate the flavor profile.   The Tiger (housemade Asian slaw, spicy dried peas and fresh pea shoots on a poppy seed bun) is more tame than it is wild courtesy of a relatively anemic Asian slaw.  Many Asian slaws utilize ginger, rice wine vinegar and citrus to add tartness and personality.  This Tiger could have used a more Asian-like slaw.

UrbanHotDog07

Real Chile

13 December 2013:One of the potential pitfalls of gourmet hot dogs is “too much of a good thing,” as in too many ingredients competing for your attention, especially when some of those ingredients mask the flavors of others.  That may be the case with the Chorizo hot dog (spicy mayo, pineapple & pepper salsa and cilantro) in which the spicy mayo pretty much obfuscated the flavor of the chorizo.  The occasional sneak-in of chopped pineapple is a nice foil to a flavor profile that is primarily piquant. 

13 December 2013: More complimentary are the ingredients on the “Real Chile” hot dog (white Cheddar cheese, green chile, tomato, onions and chopped bacon) and that’s not just because green chile makes everything else around it taste better.  The green chile has a pleasant piquancy, more kick than entrees at far too many New Mexican ingredients.  The chopped tomatoes and onions are a natural pairing with the chile, a sort of pico de gallo.  Then there’s the bacon, which like green chile, seems to pair well with everything.

13 December 2013: The menu calls its sides “bells and whistles,” a term which somehow makes sense.  Bells and whistles include five types of French fries (plain and simple; rosemary-garlic; chile con queso; “the other chile,” cheese and onion; and blue cheese, chives and truffle oil).  The rosemary-garlic fries are so much better than the flaccid out-of-the-bag fries and don’t require ketchup to be edible.

In the 1960s and in the new millennium, there’s no doubt all kinds of kids love hotdogs.  Most of them will find at least one hotdog to love on the Urban Hotdog Company menu.   Edward Sung did and he wrote about it in his inimitable fashion on one of my very favorite food blogs in New Mexico, Once Again We Have Eaten Well.  It’s a great read!

Urban Hotdog Company
10250 Cottonwood Park NW Suite 400H
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 898-5671
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 13 December 2013
1st VISIT: 9 October 2012
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 18
COST: $$
BEST BET: Le Bleu, The Crunchy Onion, The Tiger, The Curry, The Real Chile


View Urban Hotdog Company on LetsDineLocal.com »

Urban Hotdog Company on Urbanspoon

  • Edward Sung says:

    Thanks for the shout-out Gil! Our review wasn’t nearly as definitive as yours but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    October 12, 2012 at 9:21 AM
  • Nate D says:

    I tried this place out today. They have very good hot dogs. The buns, in particular, are great. I tried the NYC, which was a standard dog with saurkraut, onions, and spice brown mustard as well as the Le Bleu. Both were great and I will definitely return to try other ones. Only complaint is the time it takes to get your food is a little slow, they need to work on that.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:28 PM
  • Agree with Nate says:

    I gotta agree with Nate. Tried this place in October and was waiting to go back a 2nd time before commenting. Had the Real Chile and Italian Sausage. Both were good, but service was slow and in my opinion, it is pretty pricey. At the end of the day, these are just hot dogs. It should not take more than 5 minutes to get your food and $4.25 for a hot dog ($5.95 for an Italian Sausage) is a bit much.

    Strictly speaking about the food…great tasting dogs and Italian Sausage, but not someplace I’ll go too often…

    December 3, 2012 at 5:16 PM
  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos says:

    Alas, by coincidence, I was in the night before! and ordered the Italian and a slaw. Unfortunately, I forget Gil’s notation re time also (i.e. All good things come to him (or her) who waits till things are cooked properly.” Me? I take a newzpaper along if I don’t have a dining Mate (or is it Matess?)
    Hmmm….that slaw, which came ‘early’…is not on the regular taste buds’ memory of Yo Mama’s (sorry, I’ve got those Gourmet Pickles on the brain http://notchamamas.com/store-locations/….which could make a great Carino By-the-Way! Nevertheless, I munched on the slaw trying to examine it’s intriguing flavor. When the entree did arrive, it was piping hot. Alas, I am not a fan of jaw expanding samwiches(sic) that only Gawdzilla can take a tidy bite of, albeit I managed a half a bite…i.e. not to be ordered on a first, blind date altho I think Marissa Tomei and I would’ve enjoyed the experience with its sensuous undertones if Vinny was not around. Nevertheless, and even if my first chomp was mostly cheese, bun and ‘gotcha’ sauce…I’d say Bellisimo! whatever that says! Ya, I wish they were a little bit less expensive and especially as I’m comparing to about one tenth of a mile through Dog House’s Foot Long (NM Red type) Chile Cheez Dogs con onions! All in all, will check out another of their options while awaiting their Beer license expected early next year. I will say…and Stress this…the ‘young’ staff were appreciated for roaming around to make sure all of us were content either waiting or Yumming down! Way ta go Guyz n Gal!

    December 3, 2012 at 7:45 PM
  • Benjamin says:

    Not bad, but overpriced. Wont go too often when I can buy the family more food (good and with variety) for less elsewhere.

    March 1, 2013 at 7:08 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Darn it! What is ‘Urban’ all about anyway? Due to my computer fail, I missed my reminder to return. As such, I’ve now got it on my list and am using this http://tinyurl.com/k37an5g as a daily calendar Pop-Up to remind me….Seriously, please ignore any kind of stereotypical references which may strike you regarding her presentation or a particular vivacious feature of this Newlywed as it is not intended…it is purely happenstance!!!!

    December 15, 2013 at 1:41 PM
  • BOTVOLR says:

    Alas, my vid reminder (noted above) worked and like the pulchritudinous Newlywed, I was lured by the luscious pic of the Red Chile dog to return while succumbing to adding bacon bits (extra). (I’d gambled it was a ‘photography effect’ which added its possible overbite size, as it was in fact manageable.)
    As originally noted, this is not fast food so bring the paper/a copy of Atlas Shrugged/The Week/or whatever. If you’re with a SO, stow the cell/tablet and take advantage of an Op for some quality time!

    Liked the fact, I could get a ‘small’ drink reasonably.
    The (creamy style) Slaw side did not seem as ‘interesting’ as in the past.
    The “Red Chile”: kinda akin to an olla filled with a panoply of tastes/flavors to discern or tease out! Alas, didn’t notice the cheese; the nicely diced tomatoes didn’t reach my buds either, but made for a festive presentation with the white diced onions, which I wish had a bit more ‘potency'; indeed, the piquancy of the green chile was nicely in evidence; the bacon bits were a welcomed enhancement of ‘other’ texture; the casing of the actual dog easily allowed for a sensing of the ‘spiciness’ of the dog (albeit I wondered what an optional splitting/grilling of the link, much akin to what some of us enjoy when we quick fry some round steak, aka bologna, might add). The extra time/effort of toasting the bun was appreciated as that, IMHO, gives a bit of structural integrity to any bun against ‘juices/sogginess’. Alas, I almost made it to the end before the bun collapsed, but maybe that’s just to be expected in an adventure of this sort vs the Classic/All American mustard/onions/relish.

    This is a nice all around “alternative” experience e.g. to a mall ‘food pen’ if sensibilities are jangled after a few hours of shopping at the mall! (As alluded to by others, a ‘special’ once in awhile wouldn’t hurt.)

    December 23, 2013 at 12:55 PM

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