Head to East Boston’s Perros Paisas for Colombian-Style Hot Dogs
The two-year-old restaurant, previously a food truck, is the place to go for a late-night burger-meets-arepa or three-foot-long hot dog with so many toppings.
Ever dreamed of eating a hot dog topped with cheese, hard-boiled quail eggs, pineapple sauce, crushed potato chips, bacon, ketchup, and mayonnaise? An East Boston restaurant called Perros Paisas can make that dream come true: It’s one of the only restaurants in Boston where you’ll find an authentic Colombian hot dog, plus a variety of other classic street-food dishes.
Medellín, Colombia-born entrepreneur Andres Jaramillo arrived in Boston in 2013 with his wife, Erica Acevedo. Fast-forward to 2021: He opened the Perros Paisas restaurant with the help of his family after years of running the business as a food truck and, in the earliest days, out of his own kitchen. It all started in 2016, when he had a late-night craving for a loaded Colombian hot dog. Finding none, he whipped up a perro paisa at home. Later, he did the same for a group of friends, and that nostalgic and comforting mix of pineapple sauce and crushed potato chips atop a hot dog inspired them to spread the word about Jaramillo’s street-food skills. Before he knew it, people started calling to place orders for the topping-laden hot dogs, and his kitchen started feeling like a mini restaurant.
“It was like a snowball effect,” Jaramillo tells Boston. “I was getting so many orders that I talked to my wife and realized this was a great business opportunity. We decided to do everything we could to get it out of the house and make it a reality, and that’s when we came up with the idea of a food truck, then a restaurant.”
With a business administration degree with specialization in marketing from Pontifical Bolivarian University in Medellín, Jaramillo has spot-on business instincts and was right to push forward with his idea when he saw a lack of Colombian comfort food in Boston. With support from his wife and family, he invested in a used truck and sought help from the non-profit small business incubator EforAll and from Carlos Espinoza, the small business program director at the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation. Both helped turn his plan into a delicious reality.
“In 2018, we began working in the food truck, and we were always there,” says Jaramillo. “I remember working through blizzards, storms, and extreme summer heat. People would tell us not to come, worried about us or that the truck would get ruined. We were in that truck 24/7, and we didn’t care about anything else.”
The hard work paid off. In 2020, Jaramillo put the food truck on the back burner and proudly opened the East Boston brick-and-mortar location of Perros Paisas in early 2021. The homey spot, which operates until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, is decorated with nostalgic Colombian symbols, sayings, and the names of various towns within the country’s region of Antioquia, where Medellín is the capital city.
“The restaurant is designed so that if a Colombian person walks through the doors, we want them to feel at home,” says Jaramillo. “And when people come from other places, we want them to feel like they’re in a little piece of Colombia so that they can see all the beautiful aspects and traditions of our country.”
Two years in, hot dogs remain the specialty at Perros Paisas—and the most ordered plate—but there are some other fan favorites, too. The salchipapas, for example, is quite popular (a plate of fries, sausage, and bacon, covered in sauces), as is the burguearepa paisa (an arepa with a beef patty, bacon, crushed potato chips, cheese, bacon, and pineapple sauce).
Perros Paisas even claims to serve Boston’s longest hot dog, a three-foot-long, three-pound version of the standard hot dog (with all the aforementioned toppings). Find it on the menu under the name hijueperra—and plan to share with friends.
While expanding to new locations is on the table, Jaramillo’s focus remains on the current restaurant and further standardizing the way the team makes Perros Paisas’ special dishes. That’ll lay the groundwork for consistent quality at future locations.
“We’ve worked really hard to open the restaurant,” Jaramillo says. “Thanks to God it’s going well, and we have people who are like family working here, working for us. We keep moving forward, and there’s more to come.”
Next time you’re having a craving for something savory, hop on the Blue Line train toward Wonderland, get out at Wood Island, and walk five minutes to Perros Paisas. (Delivery is available through third-party apps, too, if you want to stay home.) Order the monstruosa salchipapa plate with a soda from Colombian beverage company Postobón; you won’t be sorry.
350 Bennington St., East Boston, 857-415-0993, perrospaisas.com.