When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out — and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Simon's Hot Dogs
Location: 4280 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale
Open: Less than a month
Eats: Colombian hot dogs
From bacon-wrapped Sonoran dogs to "dragged through the garden" Chicago-style wieners, you can find pretty much every regional style of hot dog around metro Phoenix. But even if you're a true hot dog aficionado, you may not have ever tried a hot dog done Colombian-style. For the unfamiliar, a perro caliente colombiano usually comes topped with pineapple, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and crushed potato chips. And if that all sounds too interesting not to experience for yourself, then you're in luck because newly opened Simon's Hot Dogs has brought this Medellín street food to a Scottsdale strip mall.
Owners Felipe and Marcela Roldan moved the restaurant to the Valley after operating for five years out of the Oak Creek Brewery in Sedona. The new location, in a Scottsdale strip mall best known for housing nightclubs and, at one point, a sushi restaurant that felt like a nightclub, is bare-bones. But you probably won't go to Simon's for a charming dining experience. No, you'll go there for the restaurant's menu of funky hot dogs.
The signature item obviously is the Colombian hot dog ($5.95), which like everything else on the menu can be made with a beef hot dog, vegetarian or vegan hot dog, or a pork bratwurst base. We went with the classic beef option and were rewarded with a boiled dog that came wrapped in an impossibly soft bun. The bread, split neatly down the middle, cradled the mountain of toppings, which came together nicely for sweet and savory bites. Syrupy-sweet pineapple hunks stood out the most against the beef, cheese, and house "Simon sauce," while the flecks of potato chips added just a touch of texture to the mix.
One of the restaurant's other popular options includes the Tokyo Madness ($5.95), your choice of dog topped with wasabi mayo, onions, and seaweed. It's a satisfying combination with the nose-clearing wasabi mayo contrasting with sweet, teriyaki soaked onions. The strips of toasted seaweed, surprisingly, didn't overpower everything else but did add a delicate crunch to each bite.
And in case you didn't get enough hot dog in your hot dog, you can also order a side of salchipapas ($3.95), or Colombian-style franks and fries. Your order will come with thick-cut fries mixed with half-inch slices of hot dog and the whole thing drizzled with a layer of the restaurant's special sauce. The sauce looks and tastes like a blend of ketchup and mayonnaise, which still doesn't take away from the fact that it's hard to mess up the combination of deep-fried potatoes and processed meat.
A better option, however, is the maicitos ($5.95), a creamy bowlful of sweet corn, cheese, bacon, and crumbled potato chips. Meant to be scooped up with the side of standard tortilla chips, it's as good as a dip as it is by the spoonful. Is it groundbreaking? No, but after all, this is a restaurant serving fast food and street fare. And we can only imagine how much better this rich mix of cheese and corn piqued with pieces of porcine goodness would taste at the end of a long night involving a drink or two or several.
It's worth noting that while Simon's Hot Dog specializes in, well, hot dogs, there are plenty of options for non-meat eaters. As we mentioned, each hot dog can be made with a vegetarian or vegan frank, and in addition, the menu includes options such as vegan chile fries and vegan "ceviche." We tasted a spoonful of the latter, which is creamier and less citrus-heavy than typical ceviche but does have a nice tang and hunks of soy-based "fish."
So, there's much to like at Simon's Hot Dogs in Scottsdale, though we wish the restaurant could cater to the Old Town late-night crowd. If street is supposed to be accessible, cheap, and fast, then it seems it would also be the perfect food for indulging in after a long night in the Scottsdale nightlife scene. For now, however, the restaurant's open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Though it does offer delivery through third-party service DoorDash.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.