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Bringing the circus to Nob Hill

Muralist Noe Barnett paints a giant hot dog earlier this month on the wall for Clowndog Hot Dog Parlor at 3624 Central SE in Nob Hill. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Hot dogs loaded with toppings and chocolate-covered bananas are typically treats reserved for carnivals and the State Fair, but soon Albuquerque residents won’t have to wait all year to regularly indulge in those treats.

Opening later this month, Clowndog Hot Dog Parlor, at 3624 Central SE in Nob Hill, is aiming to be a one-stop-shop for satisfying those nostalgic cravings.

Owner Rich Bartel said his goal is to bring an elevated and gourmet version of fair food to Albuquerque without breaking anyone’s budget.

But the menu won’t just include the usual staple hot dog toppings.

Bartel said part of the build your own hot dog experience is being able to choose from a wide variety of toppings – everything from sauerkraut to mac and cheese to off-beat options like peanut butter.

“I’m very excited,” Bartel said. “I think that we will be a place in which people can enjoy themselves.”

The menu will also include corn dogs, vegetarian options and hand-cut fries among other options – all menu items that lend themselves to carry out, Bartel said.

“It will be easy for people to do carryout food,” he said. “It’s really take out friendly.”

Bartel said he envisions the restaurant as a place that is welcoming and enjoyed by people of all ages. Eventually, the restaurant will also serve beer and wine with an emphasis on local brews.

The concept for Clowndog grew out of a shared love of the circus and of hot dogs, Bartel said.

He said that while traveling through the country with his wife, they would always make an effort to stop at restaurants with similar menus.

That and Bartel’s 20-plus years of restaurant experience – including work at Nob Hill mainstays like Gecko’s Bar & Tapas and O’Niell’s Pub – made the opening of his own fair-food-themed restaurant seem like the next logical step, he said.

“I felt like it’s the natural progression from going from working in restaurants,” Bartel said.

He said the circus theme goes beyond the food as much of the decor consists of vintage circus memorabilia from old posters to tickets.

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