Attending the NBA All-Star Game for the first time, I thought to myself: “Is there anything at the actual event that I can be the All-Star of?” Being a bigger dude, the easy answer was eating a bunch of food. Specifically, hot dogs.
Fortunately for me, Staples Center offers a variety of dogs. Some are simple — just a plain ol’ dog with relish and mustard — and others are the equivalent of a small Thanksgiving dinner packed into a bun. So I decided to eat them. All of them.
Let’s get started, shall we?
1. Duck and Bacon Jalapeńo Sausage — Wurstküche
Sweet peppers, grilled onions, and whole-grain mustard
Any hip, 20-something Angeleno has taken a trip to Wurstküche. It’s a restaurant located downtown, and it has a great selection of beers and exotic sausages. You can order a rattlesnake, rabbit, and jalapeńo hot dog to go along with your pint of Schneider Edel Weisse.
This pop-up located in Staples Center didn’t have the range of exotic sausages. In fact, the entire food menu was two hot dogs, one of which is the duck, bacon, and jalapeńo.
This looks fake healthy. I can do this, though there is a lot of bread, which I fear is what will eventually do me in during this marathon. The peppers and onions look delicious, but the sausage itself looks gray, like it’s telling me not to eat it.
I liked the peppers more than the sausage, to be honest. Like, I could eat a hot dog of just those peppers. (Are spicy peppers inside a bun technically a hot dog? You know what, never mind.) This also might be because at the end of the hot dog, I was left with just bun and peppers.
2. Mac and Cheese Dog — Dave’s Doghouse
Three-cheese mac, bacon bits, old-fashioned yellow mustard
This hot dog is way smaller than the first, but I’m already hesitant to take a first bite. Mac and cheese is heavy as a side dish. Bacon is also heavy as hell. Combining all of them into one dog is just a testament to mankind’s desire to test the limits of how sluggish someone can feel after a meal.
There’s a dense amount of mac and cheese on the hot dog itself, so much that I could barely see the actual dog. From an aerial view, it’s just bacon chunks and mac and cheese. I’m not complaining though.
One bite in and I can already envision a lot of heavy breathing. I feel like i just ate a really hearty dinner. The sausage itself is more traditional than duck and bacon, which I appreciate. Everything else is doing the heavy lifting. And I am just heavy at this point.
3. California Dog — Dave’s Doghouse
Josiah’s signature all-beef chili, onions, old-fashioned yellow mustard
hahahaha I thought the mac and cheese hot dog was going to be the challenge. This hot dog is straight up insulting me now. I can see why they call it a California Dog. The smell of it reminds me of an Original Tommy’s chili cheeseburger, which doesn’t get any more Californian unless you’re hanging out in traffic on a freeway near a beach.
I’ve been staring at this hot dog for way too long and haven’t taken a bite out of it.
The chili in this is really good, and the onions don’t overshadow anything. After I finished it, I felt both proud and ashamed of myself. This must be what it feels like to be the world’s most crafty thief.
I took a break from devouring another hot dog to eat two churros. I was expecting a lot of crunch, but this wonderful desert just dissolved in my mouth like a cloud. It’s the lightest thing I’ve eaten — not sure if that’s a good thing or not — and it’s a much-needed break.
The second churro tasted as though someone removed my taste buds, placed them inside a transparent box, and then proceeded fill the box with a ton of glitter for an Instagram boomerang. It was a lot of sugar. Time to keep eating hot dogs.
4. Dave’s Dog — Dave’s Doghouse
Sweet relish, onions, old-fashioned yellow mustard
Just when I thought I hit a wall, this hot dog enters my life. As opposed to the other ridiculously gluttonous Dave’s Doghouse items, this one seems like just any ol’ hot dog, which I appreciate. I actually took the time to enjoy this one. This was a lot like the regular hot dogs that the Staples Center concessions offer, just smaller.
5. Poblano Chorizo Mac and Cheese Dog — Dave’s Doghouse
I had to take a few trips to order all these hot dogs, and for some reason, I didn’t see this particular hot dog until the penultimate trip. I had already eaten one hot dog with mac and cheese, and now I have to eat another? And this dog is chorizo?!
Thankfully, this one was actually really good. So good that I didn’t care about anything other than the contrast of creaminess from the mac and cheese from the chorizo.
6. Classic Dog — Dave’s Doghouse
Onion, sauerkraut, old-fashioned yellow mustard
This one was fine.
7. Skyscraper Dog — EATS
Yellow mustard, relish, onions
For what it’s worth, EATS offers two hot dogs. One is a called a downtown dog. It’s a plain hot dog. The skyscraper dog, the one I bought, is also a plain hot dog, just in a bigger size. I was looking forward to this hot dog from the very beginning because it’s a quintessential sporting-event meal. It doesn't look as appetizing as all the others, but it’s the most recognizable — in looks and in taste — of the bunch.
I enjoyed it, though not as much as I had hoped since I was full at this point in the evening.
8. Artisan Bratwurst — Wurstküche
Bratwurst: fine cuts of pork, coriander & nutmeg. Topped off with sweet peppers, grilled onions, and whole-grain mustard
It’s the fourth quarter, and I can’t feel my face.
The employees of Dave’s Doghouse wear shirts with an anthropomorphic hot dog named The Dogfather. I think The Dogfather put a hit out on me.
I stared at this hot dog for a good portion of the fourth quarter. There’s a lot of flavor in this brat, and the combination of the sausage, peppers, onions, and all that bread made it really difficult to eat. But just when Team LeBron and Team Stephen got serious late in the game, so did I. I was going to eat this hot dog and walk out of Staples Center a concessions champion.
I finished it! And the ending to the All-Star Game got me so pumped that I could barely remember that I had just eaten eight hot dogs. Or maybe it was the fact that I had just devoured eight dogs that made me forgetful. Regardless, I still had one final mission: to go outside and find a hot dog vendor right outside Staples Center.
I didn’t expect it, but there was one problem as I stepped out: It was raining.
It wasn’t raining hard, but the slight drizzle made it hard to find anyone outside, and this was just after the game had ended. Everyone already found their cars and was headed home. I walked a few blocks and found nothing.
But just as I was about to give up, I found one stand preparing to close up shop.
9. Hot dog — parking lot across the street from Staples Center
Bacon-wrapped hot dog, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, pico de gallo, guacamole, sliced pickled jalapeños, and a roasted whole jalapeño on the side
Even before I ate the eight other hot dogs, I knew this one would be crowned the best. There’s no better hot dog in Los Angeles than one sold in a cart outside your favorite arena or club. If you had a few drinks earlier in the evening, this dog will be your saving grace.
It’s the perfect mess of a meal.
Also, the person who made the hot dog was so nice. He saw how happy I was eating the hot dog by his cart that he took a photo of me and then showed it to me on his phone. I’d like to think he knew that I was on the tail end of an excruciatingly delicious trek. The hot dog gods brought him along to say, “good job, Hector, and good night.”