Pablo Rios: Serving the Best ‘Doggs’ in the Barrio

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Creating a hot dog that is more than just a ballpark snack, but instead is a work of art that can be enjoyed at any time, takes having the right cooking team, a passion for fresh food, and years of abuelita’s cooking secrets.

“Barrio Dogg is about preserving traditions, celebrating our culture and letting people taste what it would be to visit my family’s home,” said Pablo Rios, co-owner of Barrio Dogg, a rolling kitchen made of a 1964 Impala in Barrio Logan.

Barrio Dogg is located on Logan Avenue and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. They currently serve four signature hot dogs named La Virgen, El Xolito, El Gallo, and El Samurai.

The hot dogs are made from 100 percent black angus beef, freshly baked Sonora-style bread, and fresh toppings, according to Rios.

“I wanted us to change the face of hot dogs and people’s mentality, we all grow up with that misconception that hot dogs are bad for you,” Rios said. “We really wanted to change the face by educating our guests on the ingredients and then performing to a level of excellence on every single hot dog.”

Pablo Rios was able to combine his two passions with Barrio Dogg and the art gallery.

Rios has a team of chefs who man the grill, many of whom have a minimum of 10 years of experience and have worked in some of the top kitchens around San Diego and the nation.

Rios said they used “little grandma tricks” to train each chef so that each hot dog is a work of art.

Rios and Ernesto Gastelum, one of his partners, originally planned on owning a hot dog stand once they retired but after serving hot dogs during events for family and friends they realized they had a good concept in their hands. They then selected Barrio Logan to open their business because they fell in love with the art and the celebration of culture in the neighborhood.

Like his mother and father, Rios grew up in Barrio Logan. His love for the kitchen came from watching his grandmother cook and from spending time at his uncle’s restaurant.

“I was always that little kid that was running around trying to be helpful but I’m sure I got in the way sometimes,” Rios said.

The side dishes at Barrio Dogg are taken from pages of his grandmother’s recipes and his mother’s cooking also had an influence on the menu.

Rios said the neighborhood is very dear to his heart and because Barrio Dogg also doubles as the Cruizin’ Lowrider art gallery, where customers can go in and learn about the history of lowriding while waiting for their food, this business is the perfect combination of his passions.

Rios formed a love for lowriders because of his father, who was one of the original car club originators in Barrio Logan and worked as a mechanic for the school district.

“We are showing what it is that drives people to spend so much money on these vehicles because they are rolling works of art,” Rios said.

At the age of 13, Rios built his first Impala with hydraulics and since he was not old enough to drive, his father would drive the car to shows and Rios would hop it at hopping competitions.

Rios said working for his own car taught him the appreciation of having a plan and setting a goal and working toward achievement.

Rios sees Barrio Dogg going to other neighborhoods in the future but for now they will be focused on hosting their grand opening on Oct. 21.

“I want our food to spark an emotion, I want it to take you back to a memory,” Rios said. “I want you to taste what it would be like if my grandma invited you over for dinner.”

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