Partiers score late-night weenies

by Brittany Fasano

Mateo’s is for night owls. | Dustin Michelson, staff photographer
Mateo’s is for night owls. | Dustin Michelson, staff photographer

Among San Diego’s popular crazes, street food proves to be a quick, inexpensive and delicious alternative to sit-down restaurants and fast food joints alike. Mateo’s Hot Spot co-founders Matthew Gorton and Richard Morris are both partakers and purveyors of the trend.

Mateo’s Hot Spot is a mobile catering company based in Pacific Beach where bar-goers can enjoy hot dogs between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. every Wednesday and Thursday and until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

With toppings as diverse as bacon, cream cheese, homemade Texas-style chili, nacho cheese, jalapeĖos, grilled onions and cheddar, Mateo’s combinations are endless.

The idea behind the carts occured when Gorton and Morris recognized San Diego’s lack of party-hour food options.

“We were looking for the niche and filling it,” Morris said.

A popular late-night treat is the “El Grunge,” a hot dog with bacon and cream cheese.

“The cream cheese is a Seattle thing,” Morris said. “At first we thought, ‘Cream cheese, you’re crazy.’ But then we got to look into this. It’s not bad.”

As for the bacon, he said, “Well, bacon makes everything better. Bacon is more like a Mexican dog. That’s where the name ‘El Grunge’ came from.”

Mateo’s is the perfect casual “hot spot” because of its friendly vendors and, most importantly, vibrant atmosphere. Locals gather after nights of bar-hopping to be among welcoming servers, good company and delectable food.

Not a fan of meat? No problem. Mateo’s serves vegetarian sausages and hot dogs. But for beef connoisseurs, Mateo’s uses quality hot dogs and sausages from brands such as Hebrew National, Usinger’s Famous Sausage and Hillshire Farm.

In an interview with the San Diego Reader Gorton said, “Our most popular chili dog is the Son of a Spicy Bitch. It’s a spicy hot link with chili and nacho-cheese sauce … We buy our chili in cans, but then we doctor it up. I’ll add whole chilis, chili flakes and a bit of curry powder. It’s spicy but not deadly. And there are beans in there.”

What makes Mateo’s hot dogs especially unique is its variety. Using a hot dog and a bun as its blank canvas, servers garnish each dog with distinctive tastes from around the globe, including German bratwurst, Seattle cream cheese, Mexican bacon and jalapeĖos and Texas-style chili.

Mateo’s doesn’t only serve in PB. Carts are mobile and available for special events.

“We do catering as well, from birthday parties to any type of parties,” Morris said. “(We serve) more than just hot dogs. We serve hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches and carne asada too.”

Meals come with assorted sides and desserts as well.

Mateo’s carts are the perfect stop for savory bites after a night of imbibing and can be found at three convenient locations: The Silver Fox, The Dog and Plum Crazy, all on Garnet Avenue.