Dave’s Dogs Grill: From Cart to Instant Classic

Nestled in the corner of a shopping center on Turnpike Road in Goleta, Dave’s Dogs Grill wafts out the scent of mouthwatering hot dogs as San Marcos High School students file in after a long day of classes. Hot dog visionary David Reynoso claims regulars like these keep him inspired to create new menu items nearly each week. “I can make someone happy by feeding them something so traditional,” says Reynoso, beaming during a break in his 14-hour day.

Reynoso’s become accustomed to running the business side of Dave’s Dogs as a one-man operation. It was less than four years ago that the Santa Barbaran noticed a lack of hot dog options in the community and set out to sell specialty dogs out of a cart on Milpas Street. “I wanted to change the game on the hot dog concept,” Reynoso explained. With just an umbrella, a small sign, and one hot dog on the menu, he was nervous. “The first night I sold less than 10 dogs,” he recalls.

Soon enough, though, word spread about Dave’s decadent dog creations, topped with bacon, grilled onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, ketchup, and cream sauce, and people started coming from all over to taste Dave’s twists on a barbeque classic. In no time, the parking lot salesman was moving upward of 50 hot dogs a night, and by 2017, the cart simply couldn’t handle the volume of lunch-hour orders. 

So Reynoso moved Dave’s Dogs to a brick-and-mortar location on Turnpike Road across from San Marcos High, and his regulars followed him. The larger location allowed the menu to expand to more than 20 richly unique dogs with various toppings, including barbeque sauce, chili, mozzarella cheese, and spicy mayo. Reynoso also added a veggie dog option and sides like wings, fries, corn, and tater tots. One day, the entrepreneur hopes to return to the parking lot off of Milpas to open an additional location.

Dave’s Favorite Dogs

Santa Barbara Style:  The release of this dog caused “things to really take off,” Reynoso recalled. With bacon, grilled onions, tomatoes, mayo, ketchup, cream sauce, avocado, cilantro, and mustard, this even more colorful version of Reynoso’s original Dave’s Style Dog became Instagram-worthy from the start. “I noticed people taking pictures … and it spread like wildfire.” $5.50

Pizza Dog:  Covered in pizza sauce and sprinkled in parmesan cheese, the Pizza Dog is one of the most popular menu items, according to Reynoso. “It’s just so different than anything else we have,” he explained. Lightly toasted mozzarella cheese and a generous amount of pepperoni make the dog all the more sinful. $5.50

Mac N’ Cheese Dog:  One of the heftiest dogs on the menu, the Mac N’ Cheese combines bacon, mac n’ cheese, parmesan cheese, and spicy mayo. “I love experimenting,” Reynoso said when asked about the idea. The creation answers demands both for comfort food and fiery flavoring. “When people ask for something. … I get really creative.” Since its conception, Goleta locals have been hooked on this extra savory dog. $5.50

149 S. Turnpike Rd.; (805) 770-7772; davesdogs805.com

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