Señor Dog – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

My friends and culinary colleages Señor Plata and Boomer in front of Señor Dog

H. K. Duff VIII:  Why not break your fast with our brand-new Isotope Dog Supreme?
[Homer sniffs the hot dog.]
Homer Simpson:  Oh, so hard to resist. Mesquite-grilled onions. Jalapeño relish. …
Wait a minute, those are Southwestern ingredients. …
Mango-lime salsa? That’s the kind of bold flavor they enjoy in … Albuquerque!
Lenny: He’s right.
Moe:  Yeah … and the wrapper says “Albuquerque Isotopes”!

Within three months after the Duke City’s Triple-A baseball team, the Albuquerque Isotopes, co-opted its team name from The Simpsons animated television series, it sold more merchandise than the city’s previous Triple-A team, the Albuquerque Dukes, had sold in any entire season.  That was even before a single game had even been played. In that magical, inaugural year of 2003, the team led all of minor league baseball in merchandising revenue.

Unfortunately, the Isotopes moniker wasn’t accompanied by the fictional Isotope Dog Supreme.  Who wouldn’t love a hot dog with mesquite-grilled onions, jalapeño relish and mango-lime salsa?  It certainly would be oh, so Albuquerque.  Alas, the  Isotopes Park concession menu doesn’t include a hot dog nearly as imaginative or, ostensibly, as delicious as the Isotope Dog Supreme.  A case could easily be made that there isn’t a hot dog that cleverly constructed in the entire Duke City.

A root beer shake, one of 32 shake flavors on the menu

My friend Paul “Boomer” Lilly would take a stance contrary to that contention. Paul has become perhaps the Duke City’s biggest fan of Tickles & Snooks’ “Junk Yard Dog,” a quarter-pound all-beef hot dog battered and deep-fried then topped with onions, mushrooms, bacon, pepper Jack cheese, sauerkraut and Cheddar cheese on a hoagie roll. If this behemoth on a bun was available for breakfast, Paul would be there to get his early morning picker-up.

We expected that when Paul’s birthday arrived, he would ask his friends, me among them, to celebrate his thirty-somethingth birthday with a Junk Yard Dog or ten. How the engineers among us would adorn the dog with candles would be our problem, not his. Instead Paul surprised us by asking for his birthday celebration to take place at a brand new restaurant, one to which his joyous surprise, I had not heard of, much less tried.

The Shakes Menu at Señor Dog

That new restaurant, Señor Dog, opened for business on November 16th (with a grand opening on December 9th), the day after Paul’s birthday. Not wanting to fight the maddening throngs which seem to congregate any time a new restaurant (particularly a chain) launches, we decided to wait two days before making our inaugural visit. It was a good decision. Though there was a long line of curiosity-seekers and hot dog aficionados placing their orders, the staff was quick and efficient.

Señor Dog is ensconced in the Ventana Square shopping center on Paradise Boulevard, almost as far west as you can go in Albuquerque before you run out of city.  The burgeoning  Ventana Ranch area  is in dire need of non-chain restaurants to sate the growing population so Señor Dog is Juan-on-the-spot.   The marquee on the restaurant’s frontage depicts a sombrero-sporting hot dog while the restaurant’s motto is “Chillin’ in the Heat,” which we hoped would portend piquant and potent New Mexico chile and not that inedible stuff Texans call chili.

Guacamole Dog (Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Jalapeños)

Brightly-painted walls festooned with posters; high ceilings; a painted concrete floor and functional tables and chairs give the restaurant a modern, almost antiseptic, industrial look and feel so many strip mall restaurants have nowadays.  The menu over the counter lists fourteen different hot dogs, each available as a basket (with your choice of fries, onion rings or a combination of the two) or as a super basket (two dogs and your choice of fries, onion rings or a combination of the two) plus a medium drink.  The caveat on the super basket is that the hot dogs have to be two of the same kind.  You can also upgrade from a medium drink to a milk shake for a dollar.

The shake menu one-ups Baskin Robbins “31 flavors” slogan by offering up some 42 plus different flavors of shake: apricot, banana, black cherry, black raspberry, blackberry, black walnut, blueberry, bubblegum, butter pecan, butterscotch, cinnamon, cheesecake, chocolate, coconut, creme de menthe, English toffee, espresson, lemon, malt, mango, mocha, orange, peach, peanut butter, pear, piña colada, pineapple, pistachio nut, pumpkin, root beer, strawberry and tutti frutti.  These are thick shakes served cold, not some runny, room temperature fiasco.

Chili Dog with French Fries and Onion Rings

Save for sides and beverages, the menu is all about hot dogs.  There are no burgers or sandwiches on the menu, the type of specialization which usually bodes well.  Alas, the spelling on the menu “chili” seemed  to forebode disappointment.  To mitigate the potential disappointment and improve the odds that at least one hot dog might be good, my friends Boomer and Señor Plata all ordered the super basket and had each hot dog cut in half.  That way we could all sample a half of each type of hot dog.

We need not have worried in the least.  The hot dogs were quite good, not ordinary in the least.  First of, they’re deep-fried, starting off frozen before being immersed in the fryer.  Unlike the famous “Ripper” style hot dogs served in New Jersey, the deep-frying does not tear the dog’s skin.  The frying does impart a chewy exterior texture while retaining a soft, juicy interior with a nice garlicky flavor profile.  Except for the Polish dog and the corn dog, the hot dogs are all beef.  They’re thick and delicious dogs served on a conventional soft bun.

Reuben dog (1000 Island Dressing, Swiss Cheese, Kraut) with French fries and onion Rings

The Guacamole Dog (guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapeños) may be the closest hot dog on the menu to the Isotope Dog Supreme of Simpson’s fame.  It’s a hot dog whose aroma arrives at the table before it does.  The pico de gallo and jalapeño combination is especially olfactory-arousing combination that goes very well with the velvety smooth guacamole.  Coupled with the garlicky, deep-fried hot dog, it’s a nice adventure in flavor appreciation.

The Chili Dog (red or green chile and cheese) is not redolent with the offensive aroma and grainy beef composition of Texas chili.  This chili is good enough to be spelled chile.  It’s good enough, in fact, to be served on a bowl separately from the hot dog.  A friend of mine who’s in the process of putting the finishing touches on a cookbook calls it “New Mexican chile,” better than the chile served at some New Mexican restaurants.  Alas, the gloppy processed cheese topping is not only messy, it detracts from the flavor of the chili and the hot dog.  This type of cheese belongs on ballpark nachos, not on hot dogs.  Without it, I’d still be raving about this hot dog.  Thankfully, Señor Dog also offers shredded cheese, a great improvement over the gloppy processed cheese.

The Senor Dog with green chili, cheese and onions

The green chili on the Señor Dog (green chili, cheese and onions) is nearly as good, albeit not as piquant as the red chili.  The green chili is made with ground beef and has somewhat of a soupy consistency, but it’s a good green chili (again, good enough to be spelled “chile” and served in a bowl).  As with the aforementioned Chili Dog, the gloppy cheese does this hot dog a great disservice.  Evermore I’ll remember to ask that the cheese be omitted (or preferably, taken outside and buried).

The most prominent flavor on the Reuben Dog (1000 Island dressing, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut) is that of the sauerkraut, a lip-pursing, tangy variety with a nice flavor.  We didn’t discern much of the 1000 Island dressing’s influence nor that of the Swiss cheese, but did enjoy this hot dog nonetheless.

A Chicago Dog and a Bacon Dog

Señor Dog’s menu also includes a fire-eater’s challenge–a half-pound, foot-long hot dog called the “Volcano Dog” with “fire chii”, cheese and onions.  You can have this hot dog with regular chili, but then it wouldn’t be a challenge to eat.  Any diner intrepid to try the fire-eater’s challenge must agree to and sign a waiver of liability form.  Challengers must consume the entire Volcano Dog with fire chili and all its contents within ten minutes.  There won’t be any relief from the heat during or for five minutes after all Volcano Dog contents have been certified as consumed by the manager.  Winners will have their photos posted on the restaurant’s “Wall of Flame.” 

The ingredient which gives the chili its incendiary kick is the infamous Naga Jolokia, commonly known as the “Ghost Chili,” the most piquant pepper in the world.  On the Scoville Scale which rates the piquancy level of all peppers, the Ghost Chili pepper tops the scale at 850,000 to 1.3 million Scoville units.  As of August, 2011, only six photographs adorn the restaurant’s “Wall of Flame.”

Señor Dog’s “Wall of Flame” honors intrepid diners who finish the Volcano Dog

As more restaurants like Señor Dog make their way out far west, my friend Paul, a resident of the area, will be there to alert me to them.  We won’t even wait until another colleague’s birthday to visit.

Señor Dog
6541 B Paradise Blvd NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 8 August 2011
1st VISIT:  18 November 2010
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Guacamole Dog, Reuben Dog, Chili Dog, Bacon Dog, Chicago Dog

15 thoughts on “Señor Dog – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. i have to say, being a big guy, and picky,
    senor dog is great. i took three of my friends and we all ordered diffrent things. i got the #10. (bacon dog). it was AMAZING! never had bacon on a dog. senor dog beats the DOG HOUSe by FAR! and anyone who disagrees needs to try a bacon dog!
    i recomend this to everyone!
    and Make Sure u get a Strawberry banna cheescake shake! the big guy there recomended it! its the best! tops Sonic!

  2. I agree with ‘Babs’. If Senor Dog gets a ‘high’ ranking of 18, my humble opinion is that The Dog House should get bumped up from 19 to a 20. Actually, in the realm of hot dogs alone….in contrast to filets or prime ribs, I believe DH should be at a 21.65 until I have a chance to visit Tucson and their ‘perritos calientes’! But that’s just my humble opinion…LOL

  3. I think 18 is a bit generous. We found the food overpriced, mediocre in quality and the counter staff lacking in personality and personal hygiene.

  4. Love the place have stopped by now a few times. I tried your 1/2 pounder yesterday 4/27/11 with green chile. Unfortunately the bread was so hard I could not eat it. When I addressed the issue with the counter it was explained to me that the bread is kept frozen and is thawed out in the microwave. My past experience when frozen bread is thawed in the microwave it is not very good. I love my dogs and will probably be back but for $12.00 which is what I paid for the 1/2 pounder with fries and a soda I would expect more than just an explanation. Surprisingly the counter help made no offer to replace the dog and or even a discount in price. I am not upset and will probably be back just to see if the bread issue is addressed and please remember customer service and word of mouth is priceless.

  5. Tried a hot dog there tonight (3/30) – it tasted like it was fried in rancid oil and was cold in the middle. I took one bit, had to spit it out into my napkin, and then throw the hot dog out. I suggested to the “cook” (who was standing by the counter drinking) that they cook their hot dogs so as not to be cold in the center. He appeared to care less about doing anything and just sort of shrugged his shoulders. I still can not get the taste of something rancid out of my mouth after one hour.

  6. Most likely we will begin Monthly Specialty type dogs in the new year. Hopefully January 2011 will begin our new monthly Dog program. Hope to see you then. But before then, come by and try the New Egg Nog Shake is a Big Hit and very good.

  7. To ‘Owner-Senor Dog’, I greatly appreciate your actual reading and feedback and I am glad you addressed questions and concerns from my esteemed hotdog affectionados!! I am not sure how many owners actually take the time or care but now I have been aware that comments we make hold a lot of weight. Look forward to hearing of the Mac & cheese dog, that does sound good; when may that be so I can check it out. Again, your response was much appreciated and I thank you! – Sr Plata

  8. @ Owner-Senor Dog,
    Thanks for taking the time to stop by and view the feedback, and even more importantly, respond; it is very much appreciated. I would suspect that you would make minor changes as you progress, and because you are not a chain you have that flexibility. I also understand that it is not easy starting up your own private restaurant and appreciate you considering the feedback in the future! I would not expect any drastic changes until you have time adjust and get an idea of your incoming revenue and customers. Thanks for listening!

  9. Fellas,

    We appreciate your suggestions & may feature the Mac & cheese idea when we roll out the Dog of the Month specials. We have already begun offering free refills on sodas. The water was used to thaw out frozen dogs, cannot throw frozen dogs into oil. The kids dogs or Puppy Dogs are not fried in oil, they are boiled. This is done because most parents do not want their kids eating fried fare. The cheese is heated to a creamy texture to be able to have hot cheese on the dogs & chili cheese fries. Cold cheese that is not melted would not be good. The kraut does need to be hot and we will make sure it is. Not sure why shakes were disliked, most everyone enjoys the shakes. Thanks for your feedback.

  10. @ Rocky,
    I agree that the cheese needs to be changed, and it sounds like your shakes may have needed more flavor as did mine. I’ve never experienced a ripper, or at least an edible one 🙂 , but I would be open to another New Mexico place to try for a decent dog besides driving across the country. For a gut buster, I would recommend Tickles & Snooks’ “Junk Yard Dog which has a great deal of toppings, but I did appreciate the simplicity, variety and price Senor Dog offered. I have not tried the volcano dog, I was told it was on a completely different bun (more of a hoagie style) and had a different dog as well, so I would need to try that one, from the photos I saw from a recent challenge winner, the volcano dog appears to be in a completely different league than the other menu dogs. I’ve never understood charging for drink refills on the same visit either, since the cost is in the cup, but apparently it worked for Blake’s. I asked about the refill, and the person in the kitchen gave mine for free, so enforcement of that policy may be changing. As in my work philosophy, I always encourage constructive criticism, but also look for people to provide solutions, so are there any other NM places you would recommend?

  11. I have to tell you, Senor Dogs is the style of “restaurant” that opens up when people lounge on the couch too long watching Adam & Guy on the Food Network & think they can run a food establishment. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a Hot Dog connoisseur. I respect the Chicago Dog, the Sabrett, the Ripper, the Nathan & even the dogs from the Doghouse. When I heard Senor Dog was opening up I was excited. Maybe this would be the next great DAWG! Wrong! I brought my wife & 3 kids, who by the way, also respect & love a good dog. We ordered 4 different style dogs. So much for “Deep Frying”. We watched them fill up a pot of water from the faucet & drop the dogs in. Only 1 Dog I had was deep fried & there should never be a comparison to The Ripper! The ultimate “Deep Fried” dog that is engineered just for Deep Frying. Dogs meant to be “Deep Fried” are double skinned & made for that purpose. You cant just drop any dog into the oil & start a “HOT DAWG LEGEND”. The saurkraut on the Kraut Dog was ice cold. Cold kraut is offensive for any hot dog lover. The buns on all the dogs were cold & soggy. Soggy from the water (not Oil) they were cooked in. The cheese! OMG the Cheese! Cheap processed “nacho tasting” cheese product. Definitely 1 molecule away from being plastic was scraped off the dogs by all 3 of my children. The chili on the Volcano dog was spicy but completely flavorless & if you go there ask them to skim the grease off the top before you put it on a respectable dog. That is if you can get them to stop arguing with each other in the open kitchen.

    Now we went there for the Dogs but the shakes were a “added” bonus for the kids. Let them 1 up Baskin Robbins with the number of shakes they have but their shakes are terrible. Once again, all 3 kids, who know their ice cream, threw them out. Dont forget to bring another $.75 with you for soda refills. Who does that anymore? The cost of fountain soda is pennies & putting out a great product on a consistent basis will easily cover that cost. You can also get Coke or Pepsi to donate cups that would cover your paper costs so you dont pass on a measly .$75 to the customer. Its not the money, its the principle.

    Yes! we dont need anymore chain restaurants. Yes! we need more local establishments, just not this one. Go back to the couch, turn on “Top Gear” & try your hand at building cars, cause building great HOT DAWGS you are not! Adam & Guy aren’t coming to Ventana Ranch any time soon & The Wall Of Flames should be extinguished. LONG LIVE “THE RIPPER”!!

  12. A quick addendum to what I wrote earlier today. I know its a hot dog restaurant and thus should mainly serve hot dogs but what may be an interesting concept is possibly to serve hot dogs in different forms such as macaroni & cheese & HOT DOGs for the kids, or Hot Dog Burger that could be a combination. The CA Pastrami restaurant in ABQ has the Pastrami Burger so how about the Pastrami Dog (with Green & Red Chile). Just some thoughts for the owners as a world of wonders can open up to the civilized world of Albuquerque and the nearby City of Vision. Looking forward to an Owner Reply to my friends Gil, Boomer and Sr Plata…

  13. I had to think hard on where I would choose a birthday lunch location for my friends to attend, and going with Gil (a food connoisseur), I knew it would be a difficult choice. In lieu of a regular spot, I thought it would be fun to choose a place that none of us had visited, there would be no pre-conceived opinions, and would be an opportunity for us all to try a new restaurant together. I had seen the sign for Señor Dog pop up in my neighborhood, and anxiously it’s opening. This place is clearly about the dog. Sometimes it is nice to go to a place that specializes in one food venue, especially if you are not sure what is going to please your palate that given day.

    I enjoyed the opportunity to try out three different varieties that day, and since I have always been a fan of chili, the Señor Dog did move to the top of my list. This was only the second time I have had a dog that has been deep fried, so I would not consider myself an expert, but I am becoming a believer in deep friend Hot Dogs. I like Deep fried Turkey, so why not a hot dog. I am in agreement on the cheese on the dogs, I would prefer a bit stouter flavor, and something a bit less creamy like Nacho Cheese, overall I was very pleased. I was impressed with the selection of shake flavors available, I had the peanut butter, and I did like the consistency. I would have preferred a bit stronger flavor to be added, but I need to try a different one before I would suggest that all the shakes have a mild mixture.

    I am glad to see a new restaurant on the west side that I will soon venture to again in the near future.

    Paul (Boomer) Lilly

  14. Ah, to be with Boomer and his friends in celebration of his birth chowing down on Senor Dog on his birthday watching him chow down some Senor Dog’s sample hot dogs from a simply pleasure that reminds one of simpler days… Anyways, we shared 3 different types of hot dogs and my favorite was the Standard Senor Dog (1st item on the menu when we showed up) and I thought the chile was very good for we combined the red and green and it was good to me. I tried the Reuben and Gaucamole Dogs but I really am not into sourkraut and some of the ingredience so WHEN I return, it would be for the Senor Dog. I do have to say that the Onion Rings were just about the best I have every had, they were crispy and wich they filled up the basket. I think its a place to go with good friends and hang out cause that is what made it a very pleasurable experience. Nice looking guys in front of the restaurant!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.