La Perrada Del Gordo sits in the back corner of a secluded shopping center off Military Trail in West Palm Beach, near invisible save for neon glowing signs hovering above the door and in the window.
Here, my Colombian friend explains, is where you'll find the Perro Huevon --
quite possibly the area's most intriguing hot dog.
La Perrada Del Gordo -- or as it reads in Spanish, the fat bitch -- is among the most authentic establishments of its kind, a local approach to the colorful cart fare of Colombia. Like its litter-mates at La Moon -- the Colombian-American joint in the Little Havana district of Miami made famous by the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food -- the dogs served here are the real deal, genuine Colombian street food delicacies where more toppings equals more hype.
In the states, "these types of places are everywhere there is a big Colombian population, because it is very traditional food," my friend, Carolina, adds. Perfect for -- say -- chowing down after a night of clubbing and bar-hopping.
In other words, Colombian fast food at its finest -- and also at its most gaudyily-dressed. At first glance, the menu's biggest, baddest specialty perro caliente (that's hot dog in Spanish to you gringos) appears garishly over-done. With an amalgam of 10 very colorful toppings, it screams indigestion and heartburn ($6).
A word of advice: take it the way it is, heartburn be damned. The staff speaks mostly Spanish, and alterations won't be easy to confer. Plus, after just one bite, you'll find there isn't a single ingredient you could do without.
So, just what is all that stuff? La Perrada prepares your order at the front counter, one topping at a time, starting with the bun. Like the dog, it's steamed to melt the mozzarrella-like white queso to gooey-goodness, ensuring a no-burn situation. Next, a dog is put in place before a literal smorgesborg of toppings. It starts with a heavy drizzling of garlic mayo, pink sauce, a secret "showy" sauce, mustard, and ketchup. All that dream-cream is followed-up with a hearty helping of diced bacon and crushed potato chips, topped-off with a final swipe of golden pineapple puree. The finishing touch: a dotting of quail eggs along its length.
While it looks almost overwhelming, the ingredients work surprisingly well together, none overshadowing the other, each distinctly flavorful. But no plump, juicy ball park franks, here. La Perrada's dogs are long and slender, fit to buns made just the right size -- each perro nestled between doughy, enveloping sides.
Bite down and all pretense of coherency is gone. The whole thing holds for just a moment before giving way to a gushing of flavor from each of the six sauces. The first to hit: pulpy-sweet pineapple puree, followed by an understated garlic mayonnaise, and showy sauce -- what tastes like a subdued version of Russian dressing. Textures play against each other with crackling bites of salty bacon and potato shreds. Every few chomps, a quail egg will sneak into the mix, a sweeter, richer take on the less-exotic hard-boiled eggs we Americans are most accustomed to.
Head to La Perrada for more than the dogs, though. The menu includes equally traditional dishes like arepas and tostones ($3-$6), grilled dishes with chicken and beef ($5-$7), and maizito -- sweet corn platters with shredded meat ($3-$6). There's even a shrimp ceviche.
But it's the dogs and burguers that are most notable. Dressed like the perro, but with the inclusion of a haystack-like pile of shredded chicken or beef, the Gordo Burger is another stellar pick at La Perrada ($6.75). And watching them make it is almost as much fun as dismantling it. [Pictured below]
Finish up with a house-made tres (or cuatro) leches, and wash it all down with a fruit-flavored soda. Oh, and don't forget the Tums.