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Berkeley - Desi Dog Happy Hour … $1.50 frank with grilled onions and Serrano peppers … how far is heaven?

rworange May 31, 2007 06:33 PM

Foot-long skinny Miller dog that is grilled with some nice char marks. Served on a more-than-fluff sesame seed bun that holds up nicely to the substantial choice of condiments.

Free translucent grilled onions and chopped Serrano peppers on request.

Complementary condiments include: salsa fresca, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped onions, Mexican pickled peppers/carrots, sauerkraut (street temperature), relish, catsup, yellow mustard, BBQ sauce.

Chili and cheese available to top the dog … and IMO, this tops Top Dog … but hours are briefer.

From 5-8 pm the dog happy hour is $1.50 dogs and $1 fries. Regular dog price is $2.50.

All-day special – Dog, fries drink (bottled water or canned soda) $4.50. Jarritos Mexican soda is available, but not included in the special.

The fresh cut fries I’m guessing are either love em / hate em .. I love em … they are carney fries … when I was a kid, Savin Rock Amusment Park near New Haven, CT had fries like these … soft and hot from the oil with a nice potato taste that brought out the spud sweetness. They are really oily though … so be warned.

But to me they taste of summer by the sea and the promise of a ride on the merry-go-round. I'm not impartial here. These are fries strongly tied to memories.

Frito pies, chili and various fries/frank/chili/cheese combos available. Turkey dogs and Polish sausage also available.

You know, from the name I was thinking desi as in some sort of Indian/vegetarian thing. Turns out with the Latino / Mexican touches that’s Desi as in Desi Arnez.

Here’s a picture and a little info about owner Rogelio (Ro) Rabelo who bought the cart on Craigslist in 2005.


Desi Dog on YouTube … very cool ... vamos !!!

How far is heaven? … the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph … across the street from Carvel … which STILL doesn’t have the Italian Ice … I tell you, decent street hot dogs and Carvel soft-serve / Italian ice … it’s almost NY … with better weather.

Hours: Mon-Fri … noonish – 8 pm

If you don't watch the video, it plays a song by Los Lonely Boys ... How Far is Heaven.

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  1. Gary Soup RE: rworange May 31, 2007 07:02 PM

    I'm mystified by the name, though. Do they serve the dog on naan bread?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gary Soup
      rworange RE: Gary Soup May 31, 2007 07:12 PM

      Np ... really think Desi Arnez ... not a thing Indian here. Maybe the former owner? I'll ask next time.

      1. re: rworange
        Chuckles the Clone RE: rworange Jun 1, 2007 01:04 AM

        Possibly the owner's name is Desiderio?

    2. nicedragonboy RE: rworange May 31, 2007 07:50 PM

      definitely one of the best deals on the run. I'm regularly near campus for meetings and try to swing by during happy hour whenever i can. I'm a fan of the turkey dog and the hot link myself.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nicedragonboy
        rworange RE: nicedragonboy May 31, 2007 09:16 PM

        Yeah, I forgot about the hot link. I bet with those Serrano peppers that give a slight spicy kick, the combo with a hot link would be excellent. Will try that next time.

        I forgot to mention the bun is nicely toasted.

        IMO, this is the new Original Kaspars ... the place that people will remember nostagically for years to come

        1. re: nicedragonboy
          prideworks RE: nicedragonboy Jul 12, 2007 04:49 PM

          ditto on the turkey dog, with grilled onions and fresh slices of avacado

        2. p
          P. Punko RE: rworange May 31, 2007 08:50 PM

          rw- please describe the fries in more detail, are they like this kind of fresh cut fries (my fave)?


          Also, I really am beginning to hate the peninsula. All the places up my alley are across the bay, and not physically up my alley. Grrrrr.

          2 Replies
          1. re: P. Punko
            rworange RE: P. Punko May 31, 2007 09:00 PM

            Yeah ... that looks like them .. but they are in a big paper basket. The regular price is $1.50 and with the oil ... very filling.

            The grass is always greener on the other side of the Bay ... I keep wanting to get to Back A Yard ... and it is CJ Olsen time of year ... and there is Milk Pail and Dittmars and I want to try that Transyvanian restaurant in Los Gatos ... not to mention the frozen custard supposedly also in LG .... I I wish La Biscoteria in Rewood City was near me and there's the Venetian coffee place in Palo Alto and ... etc, etc, etc.

            The best thing is always to step in the door of the place nearest you ... the place you passed a zillion times ... and look closely ... amazing things can be found.

            I'm going to have to try the taco cart next to Desi Dog. They had jars of aqua frescas which I had planned to buy ... but Desi Dog upsaled me to the $4.50 special ... I was getting dog & fries and they said a drink would only be 50 cents more ...

            1. re: rworange
              P. Punko RE: rworange May 31, 2007 09:17 PM

              Back a Yard is quite good, but the one thing that I make a good version of at home is jerk (!)

              And Gourmet Franks does do a decent dog, but it's not a Lombardi's or a $1.50 special.

              You can make that kind of fry without being too greasy, I think it just depends on getting the oil temp right, but it is definitely my fave fry with a dog, and it is not the usual. Like I mentioned in the picture caption, two great Italian Beef/Chicago Dog places that are my faves have those fries, as well as two decent BBQ joints in Boston. Actually, I think Armadillo Willy's has that style fry, so if there would ever be a reason to go there, most likely it is for the fries.

          2. Sam Fujisaka RE: rworange May 31, 2007 09:15 PM

            Que lindo el tipo, que perfecta la cocina, que fantasico el remolque, que increibles los perros calientes! Do you know where they make trailer carts like that? Beautiful!

            1. a_and_w RE: rworange Jun 1, 2007 11:13 AM

              Interesting! What other kinds of sausage do they serve?

              14 Replies
              1. re: a_and_w
                rworange RE: a_and_w Jun 1, 2007 12:10 PM

                Polish, hot link, turkey dog and a larger version of the hot dog. Not quite the large menu of Top Dog, but to me more satisfying.

                I think all the sausages are available for the $1.50 during Happy Hours.

                1. re: rworange
                  Philip RE: rworange Jun 3, 2007 09:38 AM

                  When I'm rushing from work in San Francisco to Berkeley to see a film at PFA, I'll stop by and get a Polish or Hot Link. It's cheap, fast and surprisingly satisfying. I usually skip the fries though.

                  The $1.50 special is available M-F, don't know about the weekends though.

                  1. re: Philip
                    Agent 510 RE: Philip Jun 19, 2007 12:41 PM

                    I walked by Desi Dog just a few minutes ago. That happens all the time. I stopped and actually tried something. That's never happened.

                    The dog itself wasn't bad, but that fresh salsa really made it good. Maybe next time I'll try the hot link with those pickled peppers/carrots. You could probably do a pretty close approximation of the Chicago-style dog with what they've got.

                    I don't really care for their type of fries but I do like how they're made fresh and how this little cart seems to be one heck of a well-oiled machine in general. Thanks for the tip...otherwise I'd have just kept walking on by!

                    1. re: Agent 510
                      rworange RE: Agent 510 Jun 19, 2007 12:46 PM

                      Yeah, it's a Miller hot dog like a gazillion other places. Now we need a report on the Mexican cart next to it.

                      1. re: rworange
                        Agent 510 RE: rworange Jun 19, 2007 12:59 PM

                        That cart wasn't around today, and may be gone for the summer. Things slow down quite a bit around here, even with summer school...

                        1. re: Agent 510
                          dreamsicle RE: Agent 510 Jun 19, 2007 05:30 PM

                          I think it was around on Monday (and for the last couple of weeks too.) They were setting up the cart at around 10:30 in the morning.

                          1. re: dreamsicle
                            Agent 510 RE: dreamsicle Jun 22, 2007 01:01 PM

                            I went back today. Just as I suspected, plain dog with pickle relish, mustard, jalapenos and a little chopped tomato, you have yourself a passable Chicago dog. Even if the bun is toasted rather than steamed and poppy-seed-covered, close enough. You can't do this at Top Dog.

                            I like all the little touches...Santana live in concert playing from the loudspeakers...the new Desi Dog frequency card...the clean condiment table (maybe because I showed up early).

                            The Mexican cart? Not there today either.

                            1. re: Agent 510
                              a_and_w RE: Agent 510 Jun 22, 2007 01:21 PM

                              No, but you don't go to Top Dog for a Chicago dog. You go for the variety of high-quality grilled sausages at a reasonable price. It amazes me that people don't appreciate that you're getting gourmet sausages, despite the downscale decor.

                              1. re: a_and_w
                                Agent 510 RE: a_and_w Jun 22, 2007 02:24 PM

                                I wasn't bashing TD (and it's not like DD is the opposite of "downscale decor"). But DD offers many toppings TD doesn't. That's worth pointing out, especially when so many hot dog places have the exact same TD menu with just mustard and kraut.

                                DD frequency card: free medium fries after your 5th dog, free dog after your 6th.

                                1. re: Agent 510
                                  GreenLightJerky RE: Agent 510 Jun 22, 2007 02:30 PM

                                  Good lookin out. This sounds fantastic!

                                  1. re: Agent 510
                                    a_and_w RE: Agent 510 Jun 22, 2007 02:57 PM

                                    Gotcha -- thanks for the clarification. Out of curiosity, what other places have the "exact same TD menu"?

                                    1. re: a_and_w
                                      Agent 510 RE: a_and_w Jun 27, 2007 11:53 PM

                                      Lots of places: Fatt Dog, The Dog Out, Sparks in Emeryville, the place across from Berkeley High, probably many others. These places have the exact same lineup of sausages with maybe one or two exceptions. Sorry, forgot about this thread until it bubbled up again.

                                      1. re: Agent 510
                                        a_and_w RE: Agent 510 Jul 12, 2007 04:37 PM

                                        Belated thanks -- I will definitely check these out! Can you think of any across the bay in SF? I'm aware of What's Up Dog.

                                2. re: Agent 510
                                  rworange RE: Agent 510 Jun 22, 2007 01:40 PM

                                  A Desi Dog frequency card? How does that work?

                  2. c
                    chocolatetartguy RE: rworange Jun 22, 2007 02:49 PM

                    Desi Dog is a decent place to get an everyday hot dog. I do like their dogs with pico de gallo. I would recommend them if you happen to be on Tele, but I wouldn't say it was worth a special trip. The sausages at Top Dog are superior and you can actual get a dollar fifty dog all day at Carval, which I haven't done. Desi Dog originally called themselves Fat Dog until they got a cease and desist order from the SF chain. Interestingly, DD is affiliated with El Taco Zamarono I think. There is a decal for a taco place on their trailer.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: chocolatetartguy
                      GreenLightJerky RE: chocolatetartguy Jun 22, 2007 02:58 PM

                      Some other stuff I need to to do in the area so I figure I'll swing by. Thanks for all the good info!

                      1. re: chocolatetartguy
                        chocolatetartguy RE: chocolatetartguy Jun 26, 2007 11:31 AM

                        I had a dog at Carval Saturday and it was worth a buck fifty and no more. The guy at the counter was nice and now I know that the sickeningly sweet smell emanating from the store is from the waffle cones.

                        Desi Dog wasn't open Monday, although my impression is, that they have been there on weekdays as usual. They are almost never there on the weekends.

                        1. re: chocolatetartguy
                          psb RE: chocolatetartguy Jul 9, 2007 10:32 PM

                          >Desi Dog wasn't open Monday
                          they were open on monday july 9, so maybe that was a one-off closing.

                          friendly guy. i agree the $1.50 "happy hour" hot link is a very good deal.

                      2. gemster RE: rworange Jun 27, 2007 11:03 PM

                        The grilled onions and serrano peppers really make the dog. Truly delicious.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: gemster
                          ihateregs RE: gemster Jun 28, 2007 12:03 PM

                          im going to definetly agree with gemster, i think the free onions/peppers are the biggest selling point with the condiment bar being almost equally pleasing. i also appreciate the jalapenos/etc that are more available here than most local taquerias. free too.


                          i use to go to the taco stand next door regularly for a months about a year ago, to the point where i got to know one of the cooks. 1.50 each or 4 for $5, it beats out all the other tacos within walking distance (mario's has like $2.50 tacos and the place on campus is horrid). I've found the meat rather tame in taste (carnitas just plain sucks) and that the taco gets most of its flavor from the spicy sauce/jalapenos it comes with. i've only had tacos here, and i generally go with the lengua since it doesnt need alot of flavor. the beef comes in small rather crispy chunks.

                          The line gets pretty long sometimes, and with only 1 person and 1 cook it becomes a real pain.

                          i havent tried the tacos at cancun, and am a regular at gordo's.

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