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Hot Fire Dogs offers new late-night food option in Durango

Authentic Chicago-style dogs rated NK-17, as in no ketchup unless you’re under age 17
Matthew Boyle, owner of Hot Fire Dogs, shows off one of his Chicago-style hot dogs on Wednesday, one of several hot dogs he sells at his restaurant at College Drive and Main Avenue underneath The Balcony Bar & Grill. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Durango residents looking for a late-night snack, especially after a night on the town, have limited options.

Hot Fire Dogs is helping change that.

The hot dog shop at College Drive and Main Avenue under The Balcony Bar & Grill is open from 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Other than Denny’s restaurant, Hot Fire Dogs is one of the only places to find freshly made food after 1 a.m. in Durango.

Creating a food option for people who go out late was something owner Matthew Boyle was adamant about. Boyle, who is also a bartender at Orio’s Roadhouse, became sold on the idea after hearing from numerous customers coming into the bar and asking where they could get a late-night bite to eat.

“Everybody always asks me where they can get food before the bar closes. And I had the same answer for them every time, Denny’s,” he said.

Hot Fire Dogs serves Chicago-style hot dogs at the restaurant at College Drive and Main Avenue underneath The Balcony Bar & Grill. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

He said Hot Fire Dogs is not open for lunch yet because of staffing issues, but he wanted to make sure the shop would be open late nights and decrease the chance of people driving under the influence after going out.

“The late night is our main focus, and we want to be known as Durango’s late-night spot to jump to,” Boyle said.

In April, Hot Fire Dogs began as a mobile vendor that set up at fairs and the Farmington flea market. But Boyle sold the cart to focus on opening his brick-and-mortar location.

A Chicago-style hot dog at Hot Fire Dogs. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The restaurant serves three different styles of hot dogs including a Chicago dog, green chile dog and a traditional hot dog. Hot Fire Dogs also offers two Italian beef sandwich options.

Boyle emphasizes serving a true Chicago-style hot dog, which means no ketchup. Inside the shop, there is a poster that reads, “This dog is rated NK-17: No ketchup unless under the age of 17.” He said ketchup’s flavor is too restrictive for all the condiments on a Chicago dog.

“It’s a heavy flavor, and ketchup, it doesn’t allow you to have all that other good stuff,” Boyle said. “Like if you had ketchup on a Chicago dog, that’s all you would taste.”

The seven condiments on a Chicago dog are: yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green relish, a dill pickle, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and a hint of celery salt.

Boyle said having a poppy seed bun is also important for texture.

Hot Fire Dogs uses only Vienna beef products, a company based in Chicago, to add to the shop’s authenticity.

Boyle plans to expand the menu past the three hot dogs, hinting at a foot-long Chicago dog customers can share. Hot Fire Dogs also offers dessert options such as the peanut butter and jelly dog, which is a banana drizzled with peanut butter and jelly on a King’s Hawaiian sweet bun. He is also in the process of purchasing a soft-serve ice cream machine to appeal to late-night revelers with a sweet tooth.

Matthew Boyle, owner of Hot Fire Dogs, prepares a hot dog on Wednesday in anticipation of customers at his restaurant at College Drive and Main Avenue underneath The Balcony Bar & Grill. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“We’re going to get a soft-serve machine, and being across the street from Cold Stone, I think that’s going to be interesting,” he said. “Because every time you walk into Cold Stone, it’s $8 for a dip of ice cream. So if people can get a $3.50 cone here, I think that’d be good.”

Boyle has big plans for the outdoor seating area of the shop. Being from Chicago, he wants to put ivy on the brick wall portion of the seating to make it look like the outfield at Wrigley Field. He also wants to lay turf in the seating area to resemble a baseball field.

Matthew Boyle, owner of Hot Fire Dogs, gently garnishes a hot dog with a sliced tomato, one of the seven condiments necessary for an authentic Chicago-style dog. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The hot dog aficionado is also trying to figure out a way to have vendors walk up and down Main Avenue to either sell hot dogs or attract customer to the shop. It could be a way to improve sales if the stand is not drawing enough business, he said.

“We’re thinking about doing a pushcart or like you see at the ballgames where the guys have the thing over their shoulder and they open up,” Boyle said.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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