LA is home to the Dodger Dog, but it’s also home to another famous hot dog: The Dirt Dog!
Dirt Dog LA took Los Angeles street food to another level, blazing onto the scene making this one ultimate cheat meal. There’s pretty much no other way to describe Dirt Dog LA than as hot dogs on steroids, since every possible combination you can think of to throw onto a hotdog, they do it all here! It is something that has rapidly put this LA restaurant as a go-to must see, must eat destination in Los Angeles. If you don’t know, now you know, because Dirt Dog LA is officially on the map!
Located in the University Park section of Los Angeles, Dirt Dog LA opened up August 1st, 2014. First generation owners Timothy and Simon specifically and strategically selected this location and L.A. quickly embraced all things deliciously dirty about the dogs.
“Dirt Dog was made for L.A. and for our first location, we wanted to make sure we were in a melting pot location to best represent LA. If you look around our area, you will find 3 great school campuses (USC, Mt Saint Mary’s and LATTC) within a few blocks from us. Each school has a very different demographic. You’ll also find white and blue collar workers; a huge diversity in residents and businesses. It’s beautiful, and we found that L.A. loves Dirt Dog and we love L.A.” Timothy said.
From his days as a kid, Timothy loved the street food and culture scene and wanted to capture it all in his restaurant. The moment you walk in, you feel the nostalgic vibe as the sound of 90’s hip-hop and R&B blasts in the background. This music, the art, and the wall where people leave their mark, are all deliberate for the customers to submerge themselves in the Dirt Dog experience.
Timothy says that “From the food we serve, the music we play, the vibe we share and the service we provide – we dare to be different and you can only get that at Dirt Dog. We make no apologies for being real. Dirt Dog comes from my dream as a kid to represent Los Angeles and its amazing bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Dirt Dog comes from a good and genuine place and you’ll feel it when you dine with us.”
The story of Dirt Dog began during childhood in the early 90’s. Timothy and Simon would spend most weekends at the family business, but one particular hot summer day, they noticed a woman selling hot dogs on a flat grill. She served them bacon wrapped with grilled onions, bell peppers, red peppers, and jalapenos.
“I remember as a kid never seeing anything like this before so I’m amazed. My mom told me there would be no way that she would let me try one considering there were cars continuously driving by kicking up dirt into the nice lady’s hot dog cart. (by the way, her hot dog cart was made out of a shopping cart, brilliant!). But temptation set in and Simon (my brother) and I secretly purchased the bacon wrapped hot dog and devoured it. It was utterly amazing. We found ourselves eating bacon wrapped hot dogs the rest of that summer. My mom would keep telling us to stop eating dirt. Simon found it amusing and started calling them Dirt Dogs. It stuck with us ever since, and we never stopped eating them, no matter how dirty they were. We love the Dirt Dog and it is part of us and our childhood – and adulthood as it would seem.” Timothy said.
And from then on Dirt Dog has taken off introducing their customers everything that is deliciously dirty. The face of Dirt Dog LA is Blanca who manages the restaurant. She shares the vision of the owners and strives for everyone to have the best experience. Blanca had been in the restaurant business from years moving up through the ranks, and has a passion for working with independent business owners. According to Blanca, Dirt Dog LA is ground zero and she considers it the best location as it definitely lives up to the hype since every type of crowd comes through the doors. From local Angelenos who live and work nearby, the college students attending school, and to people who travel to LA because they heard of the name, It makes for everyday being busy at Dirt Dog LA!
Blanca says: “The inspiration definitely goes back to Tim and his brother Simon experiences kids growing up in LA and the lady who would serve the bacon wrapped hotdogs from the cart, the murals we have to the posts on the walls it’s all based on that. So for us, every time we open up a Dirt Dog location it’s always going to have that 90’s feel and vibe with the music to the murals and just the whole experience.”
How has Dirt Dog’s reputation grown over the years? Blanca equates that to word of mouth and the power of social media. There are many days where the line wraps around the building like the DMV! People truly really want to come in and sit down and have a chance to dine and experience Dirt Dog LA. This is all because of they want to make sure their brand stays consistent, the presentation of the food and product always stays top notch. The day starts at 6:00am as the prep team gets the ingredients ready before the restaurant opens it’s doors at 10:30am.
For the first time visitor, Blanca would recommend the Patty Melt and the House Dog. “We can’t forget about the Dirty Chili Dog, as that is one of our main dogs that represents the whole Dirt Dog.” We even have a song made for us about it so I definitely can’t leave that one out.
“To add to that, I’d also add in the DUI fries, the Esquite and the deep fried desserts that include Deep Fried Oreo’s, Twinkies, and Horchata ice cream,” Timothy said.
The staff experiments with different varieties and flavors and even piggybacks off each other different recommendations and suggestions, as they taste test everything first before it even gets considered for the main menu. Anything new added to the menu is something that has to be mutually agreed upon by the team.
New locations are planned in Downey, and Pasadena, and there are also talks expanding over to Anaheim near Disney Land. There are also requests for locations in the Inland Empire, Long Beach, and San Diego. Dirt Dog also operates in Las Vegas, but no matter where they open up at it’s all about staying true, and staying consistent to their culture and the brand.
“I remember our first two years we opened we were so close to going out of business”, Timothy reminisces, “We had no idea what we were doing, but we hustled day in and day out until we figured it out and we truly appreciate all our guests who believed in what we do and still visit us till today. Dirt Dog humbled me. It has grown me to be a much better person and leader. Although it has been probably one of the greatest struggles in my life- it is also one of the most rewarding.”