Classic chili cheese dogs and corn dogs at Motordogs in Pasadena
Name of restaurant: Motordogs
Chef/Owner: Steven Jensen, who’s been making surfboard-shaped rugs for his company Jensen Rugboards for the past 20 years. His uncle owns the property, his rug business is slowing down, so he and his wife thought, why not. “I’ve always wanted to do it,” said Jensen.
Concept: It’s a retro hot dog stand in a converted gas station with nothing but fries, dogs and soda. The small outdoor seating area consists of a handful of shiny red and white tables with Coca Cola umbrellas, similar to the ones you’d find outside of a diner. There’s even a couple red and white out of work gas pumps.
The city already has its share of gourmet hot dogs with Slaw Dogs and two locations of the Dog Haus. But you won’t find the words artisan or organic on the chalkboard menu at Motor Dogs. It simply lists the variations of the stand’s 100% beef dogs with a mustard dog topped with onion, mustard and relish ($2.50), chili dog with chili, mustard and onion ($2.95), a Chicago Dog with mustard, tomato, relish, onion and dill pickle ($2.75) and a kraut dog with saurkraut and dijon mustard ($1.85). All dogs come on a fluffy, poppy seed bun. And you can get a classic corn dog for $1.85 or substitute a veggie dog for any item.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The chili cheese dog or the corn dog. The chili cheese dog comes smothered in rich chili, yellow mustard and minced onion. It’s covered with a messy blanket of bright orange, shredded, cheddar cheese. It’s simple, cheap, filling and exactly what you crave from a chili cheese dog -- no fancy toppings required. The same goes for the corn dog. The crunchy coating, the grease-stained white paper cup it comes on and the way you’ll inevitably burn the roof of your mouth, will bring you back to simpler times.
Who’s at the next table? A family of four with two young boys out of a Normal Rockwell print. Before digging in to their chili cheese dogs, they all clink their sodas bottles together with a “cheers.”
Appropriate for: A casual meal for when you’re craving a classic hot dog.
Uh-oh: No dogs long after the sun goes down. They’re only open from 11a.m. to 7p.m. and closed Sundays. The restaurant plans to extend its hours next week to 8 p.m., but if you’re looking for a chili dog after dark, you’re out of luck.
Service: Friendly in that we’ll-remember-your-name-and-order-next-time kind of way.
What are you drinking? A selection of Fanta sodas, Sprite, Coke and Diet Coke in glass bottles.
Info: 1265 E Green St., Pasadena, (626) 644-6721.
The Scouting Report is a quick look at restaurants worth a visit. Scouts were selected by restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, who may or may not agree with a single word.
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