We cannot seek achievement for ourselves, and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.
– Cesar Chavez
I am part of the generation that grew up in South Los Angeles while it was still called South Central. Millennials understood the 51.08-square-mile radius differently than others who inhabited it. We developed during an era when South Central Los Angeles was plagued with street crime, crack cocaine, prostitution, drive-by shootings, teenage pregnancy, race, and gang wars, and was at the peak of poor academia. Some of us made it through these circumstances and went on to lead healthy and successful adult lives, while others succumbed to the environments of their adolescence. The amount of perils in this troubled region have decreased, but not enough. A new restaurant concept attempts to heal the trouble area, one dirt dog at a time.
I’m so L.A… status updates fill my Facebook timeline and I, too, shared my own reminiscent messages. Despite that, I challenge those who traveled down memory lane to look into the eyes and faces of our children, and ask ourselves what they will remember about South Los Angeles when they grow up to reach our age. Richard Larios, Chief Brand Officer & Community Organizer at Dirt Dog, is not leaving this to chance. He understands that exposure and opportunity can give a young person the guidance needed to take the road less traveled. By showing our youth a different lifestyle and a positive path, we can change the cycle of defeat that has been a dark cloud over the inner city for decades. Dirt Dog is taking this challenge head-on by donating 10% of its proceeds to community organizations which support the betterment of South Los Angeles. Simply indulging in delicious Los Angeles street food yields great results.
The restaurant concept hones Los Angeles street food culture. Though it is not the street food that you think of in today’s terms, it is the gritty, ‘hood’ street food of South Central. Dirt Dogs (Downtown dogs), Elote, and Tamales―the only thing missing is Champuradoo. Tamales, tamales, elote, y champuradoo; TAMALES. These are treats we grew up with before the food truck revolution shaped street food to become what it is today. I was given the opportunity to try Dirt Dog prior to its August 1st grand opening. The House Dog, Dirty Chips, Deep Fried Oreos, a Deep Fried Twinkie, and their Asian-grown slow-drip coffee are astounding, and are all great compliments to the prowess of the head chef, Phillip Ozaki, formerly of Plan Check.
The first thing Phil prepared for me was the House Dog, which is a bacon-wrapped Nathan’s Famous 5-1 hotdog topped with grilled veggies (bell peppers and onions) and drizzled with a green chili spread, ketchup, mustard, mayo, and bacon bits, all wedged between a [locally sourced] Melrose Bakery fresh-baked traditional hot dog bun, and Dirty Chips, seasoned to perfection with Dirt Dog LA’s special blend of lime zest, chili power, and cayenne pepper. The bacon around the dog has a bit more precision than what you would get on a street corner. This combination creates one beautiful unit, and their flavors are both distinct and tasty. Between the snap of the dog, its burst of juices, and the crush of the dirty chips, a warm fuzzy feeling brought a glow of joy to my face. I am certain that Dirt Dog is a business run with passion, quality control, and good taste. This coupled with community service, and a great desire to improve our city proves that Dirt Dog LA is the epitome of what Los Angeles is, a place of opportunity.