Story by Jenny Paulson – Steel City Dogs, located in historic Bessemer, serves the only authentic Chicago style hot dogs in town, and is must try, iconic Pueblo restaurant.
Roger Gomez and family opened Steel City Dogs in 2009, creating a menu with unique, localized hot dogs names – with all of their “dogs” made with premier Vienna sausage (all natural, no preservatives or fillers) and must have fixings (including Atomic Neon Green Relish and Neon Yellow Mustard), that he imports from Chicago.
While hot dogs may not be that special to most people, they are important to those from Chicago, the hot dog capital of America, who know their “dogs.” Steel City Dog’s hot dogs aren’t just a local’s favorite, they manage to repeatedly pass the test of those who visit or have moved to Pueblo from Chicago, many of whom reported on online reviews, that they are the best, most authentic “dogs” that picky Chicago connoisseurs have ever had outside of their home city.
Gomez, originally from New York City, became a fan of the Chicago’s beloved hot dogs when he lived there for five years. While he left the big city life behind when he moved to Southern Colorado about 40 years ago, he brought the taste of Chicago with him when he, his wife and one of his sons, opened to doors to what may look like a hole-in-the-wall at first glance, but is actually one of Pueblo’s top quality mom and pop food venues.
Gomez, once a mural artist in New York, painted the outside of his 110 year old building with a mural summarizing what he thinks his restaurant is about: “Authentic Chicago Style Hot Dogs, Delicious!” Inside the restaurant, another one of his paintings has his Steel City Dog logo creation along with caricatures of two mill workers. Another one of his artworks features hot dog toppings – with hand painted containers of relish and mustard, which include depictions of buildings he visited on a tour of the nearby, then named, Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) steel mill.
Much of the memorabilia and artwork on the restaurant’s walls are also of the CF&I and those who worked at what was Pueblo’s main industry for much of its history. On the back walls of the restaurant, the Gomez family has provided space for the scribbled signatures and writings of former and current steel mill workers and their families.
Other historic photos and posters include some of the family’s findings from the basement of the building, which was a neighborhood grocery stores for decades. Gomez’s wife, whom he met not long after moving to Pueblo (they celebrate 40 years of marriage in 2018), was raised in Bessemer, where they bought the building for their restaurant, comfortable with the historic neighborhood – fondly called “Bojon Town” by locals.
The mill, which busted in the 1980s, brought to Pueblo at least 50 different nationalities, many of whom lived in affordable and typically small homes in Bessemer. Gomez incorporated several of Pueblo’s most known immigrant groups into the Steel City Dogs menu, including in the names of some of his most popular hot dogs – the Italianator (Italian sausage served Chicago style), the Bratski (Bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard) and the Steel City Polish Dog (grilled polish dog topped with peppers and onions).
Steel City Dogs menu also features The Works hot dog (Vienna been hot dog), the Pueblo Fire Dog (with Pueblo Chile atop of a jalapeño polish dog) and the Recession Special (two hot dogs with your choice of fixings).
Non-hot dog “must have” Pueblo style menu items include the Mama Mia, a home style Italian meatball sandwich, made with three cheeses and the Gomez version of Pueblo’s infamous slopers sandwich, the Steel City Slopper, which is two mini-burgers drenched with home cooked green chile that locals rave about, pork, cheese, onions and tortilla strips.
Steel City Dogs is located on the south side of Pueblo at 1131 East Orman Avenue, they are typically open from 11 am to 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday, but hours can vary so you might call first at 719-542-1517.
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