"The Lost Dog" at Los Perros Locos is an Exercise in Absurdity
In this space, James A. Foley explores New York City's strangest sandwiches.
James A. Foley
Los Perros Locos turns out a number of wacky menu items that redefine the traditional, all-American hot dog. But one particular selection is so strange that even calling it "loco" feels a bit like an exercise in restraint. More like "loquisimo," which translates loosely to "crazy maximized."
That dog is the thoughtfully named El Perro Perdido--"the lost dog"--and it begins with a slice of inch-thick, deep-fried French toast, which is layered with an all-beef meat tube, smoked ham, melted Swiss cheese, and a drizzle of strawberry ancho jam. "Lost" here could imply that this dog took a wrong turn on its way from a county fair, made a quick detour through Mexican chile country, and sat for a long time at a highway diner in Texas before finding a lift to New York.
I asked the guy behind the counter if, by ordering a lost dog, I'd be getting the strangest thing on the menu. He confirmed, but noted that El Niño Loco--a hot dog topped with Kraft mac & cheese, Fritos, and ketchup--is pretty strange, too. My fiancée was with me, and she agreed to order that dog for comparison's sake. (She doesn't eat meat, though, so we paid $1 more for her Niño Loco to be made with a veggie dog.)
Her dog worked out pretty well. The corn chips gave it a requisite crunch, and ketchup is an agreeable condiment for Kraft macaroni and cheese and hot dogs alike, so having it all there in one package created a complementary flavor profile. Also: a Los Perros Locos veggie dog is remarkably convincing. Enough so that we had to ask the guys behind the counter to re-confirm that it really wasn't meat.
El Perro Perdido proved much stranger than corn chips and processed cheese, though. The first bite was downright confusing; oily, sweet fried bread met meat and cheese and finished off with hints of spicy strawberry flavor. It was not entirely unlike a Monte Cristo sandwich, where powered sugar and jam offer a similarly sweet contrast to smoked meat and cheese. And the French toast bun was not fluffy or eggy, but rather had a fried confectionery taste very similar to funnel cake.
James A. Foley "El Nino Loco"
I was expecting to find the whole experience pretty gut-wrenching, but I left with a different taste in my mouth. While the meal was heavy--and frankly, would have tasted a lot better if the hot dog were omitted entirely--it was intriguing enough to convince me that it's worth a repeat trip to try some of the other loco hot dog creations on the menu.
Ordering a Perro Perdido is sort of like willfully adopting a three-legged dog--it may not be the best choice, and some may question your judgment when so many more appealing dogs are up for grabs--but there's also a sense of adventure and nobility in the decision. Somebody has to do it, for the sake of absurdity and a good story.
And just like you can learn to love a three-legged dog, you can learn to love El Perro Perdido.