The spread of American fast food into other countries provides a troubling sight for travelers. Of all things American, why import the mass-produced, the lab-concocted, and the portion controlled?
Occasionally, however, something surprisingly beneficial rises from the shapeless muck of globalization. Like when another country takes an American culinary icon like the hot dog, adds its own cultural stamp upon it, and hands it back to us with a smug grin. That is what Chile has done, and New Yorkers can check out the results at the San Antonio Bakery in Astoria.
When I was in Chile last year, I kept noticing that Chileans like to use mashed up avocados as condiments. Burgers and steak sandwiches—even when served on a Chilean train—came with a dollop of chilled avocado. Never mind the slight health benefits of forsaking some corn syrup-laden condiment for a fruit that is naturally high in good fat: the marriage of rich meat and richer fruit creates a fresh, carnivorous sensation that can’t be touched by ketchup. And at the San Antonio Bakery, they serve the Chilean hot dog, topped with mild sauerkraut, diced tomatoes, sweet mayo, and mashed avocado—the last two well chilled.
The temperature of the avocado and mayo seems to be one of the major flavor brokers. This hot ‘n’ cold effect of the juicy frank and the cool toppings makes me wonder why you’d want to slather something from a room temperature squirt bottle on top instead.
As you can see in the picture above, the bakery provided a few squirt bottles on the table—as if to comfort the American clientele—but the hot dog was complete without them. I haven’t been the only person to come to that conclusion, apparently. In the spirit of the feijoada completa, a dish from another fellow South American country, the Chileans have also named the above hot dog the completo.
The bread also provides a layer of intrigue. Baked at San Antonio’s other location in Valley Stream, the hot dog buns have a slight sweetness that complements the saltiness of the dog and the creaminess of the avocado. And the completo is served in a classy hot dog holder. Well, as classy as a piece of plastic can be. Classy and practical: the holder prevents the inevitable sideways roll when the dog is placed on a plate. And for a dog with such a tall headdress of goodies, that could make a mess. Speaking of messes, this is one dog that is not very suitable to being eaten in the car or on the sidewalk. It is best enjoyed while you’re sitting down as you watch Chilean soccer games in the bakery’s dining area (note the 10-second long “GOOOOOOOOOOL!” shouts from the commentators).
And if you carried it out to eat it later, you would have killed the hot ‘n’ cold effect.
The only aspect inferior in San Antonio’s dog versus the dogs in Chile is the quality of the tomatoes. The bakery, being located in America, uses the standard, pink, mealy American things, whereas the tomatoes in Chile are dark red juice bombs that moisten the already juicy hot dogs / steak / burgers in a most lustful way.
San Antonio also serves the Chilean steak sandwich, made from slices of steak pounded thin and topped with plenty of mashed avocado and mayo, all on a bun with the same airy sweetness as the hot dog bun. But my wife and I wolfed it down before I had a chance to take a photo. Too bad. Er, I mean oops.
San Antonio Bakery #2
3620 Astoria Blvd
Astoria, NY 11103