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Sonoran Hot Dog, Tucson, AZ

Sonoran Hot Dog, Tucson, AZ
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  • Sonoran Hot Dog, Tucson, AZ

    Post #1 - March 17th, 2009, 4:15 pm
    Post #1 - March 17th, 2009, 4:15 pm Post #1 - March 17th, 2009, 4:15 pm
    Sonoran Hot Dog, around midnight, from a roadside cart and tent puzzlingly marked "Sinaioense? Hot Dog," in Tucson, Arizona (On the east side of Alvernon, just north of Lee).

    Image

    The specs of this monstrosity are as follows:
    Char-grilled, bacon-wrapped hot dog with mustard, mayo, pinto beans, grilled and fresh onions, diced tomatoes, jalapeño salsa, crema, avocado, and shredded cheese on a semi-sweet, torta-bread-like hot dog bun. Grilled sweet pepper on the side.

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    I found it to be a magnificent and delicious thing of beauty. Not that I regret ordering mine with "everything," but next time I'll do "everything, minus mayo, crema, and cheese."

    Image

    My initial response to a request to share was, "Get your own." But, I relented.
    REB took one bite and was appalled. (She's a true Chicago Girl and this was anything but a Chicago Dog.) I'm not nearly as much of a purist. I wanted that bite back. I wanted to order another one.
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #2 - March 17th, 2009, 4:53 pm
    Post #2 - March 17th, 2009, 4:53 pm Post #2 - March 17th, 2009, 4:53 pm
    Sinaloense, as in "Sinaloan" or "of Sinaloa", a state of Mexico just to the south of Sonora.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #3 - March 17th, 2009, 5:18 pm
    Post #3 - March 17th, 2009, 5:18 pm Post #3 - March 17th, 2009, 5:18 pm
    gleam wrote:Sinaloense, as in "Sinaloan" or "of Sinaloa", a state of Mexico just to the south of Sonora.

    Thanks. That makes sense. Still, odd that a place called "Sinaloense? Hot Dog" would sell something they call a "Sonoran Hot Dog." Marketing to the local audience perhaps. Hmmm...

    And I didn't add the question mark to Sinaloense?. It was already there; as if they were asking.
    Image

    Anyway, damn delicious dog if you find yourself in those parts.
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #4 - March 17th, 2009, 5:30 pm
    Post #4 - March 17th, 2009, 5:30 pm Post #4 - March 17th, 2009, 5:30 pm
    Sinaloense?... awesome. What a bizarre name. Glad to hear the dogs are good :)
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #5 - March 17th, 2009, 5:54 pm
    Post #5 - March 17th, 2009, 5:54 pm Post #5 - March 17th, 2009, 5:54 pm
    gleam wrote:Sinaloense?... awesome. What a bizarre name. Glad to hear the dogs are good :)

    Long as the dogs look that good they can call it ShineOlaEse if they want. :)
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #6 - March 18th, 2009, 5:51 pm
    Post #6 - March 18th, 2009, 5:51 pm Post #6 - March 18th, 2009, 5:51 pm
    I was just down in Tuscon last week and had a Sonoran hot dog at El Guero Canelo.
    Apparently, they are fairly well known for theirs.

    As you say, not for purists, but darn are they good.

    http://www.elguerocanelo.com/index2.html
  • Post #7 - September 12th, 2009, 10:36 am
    Post #7 - September 12th, 2009, 10:36 am Post #7 - September 12th, 2009, 10:36 am
    El Guero Canelo is my personal favorite as well. They even serve breakfast, but it's the Sonoran hot dogs that are the gold-medal winners. They put the perfect amount of each ingredient in their menu items. They are open late, which is also a huge bonus because my work schedule can get pretty hectic sometimes. Hopefully they stick around for a while.
    Original Chicago Deep Dish
  • Post #8 - December 5th, 2009, 8:56 pm
    Post #8 - December 5th, 2009, 8:56 pm Post #8 - December 5th, 2009, 8:56 pm
    Image

    Just to add to the praise for this uniquely Tucsonian weenie!
    We tried this cart- and spotted many others around town-
    especially on the way back to The Airport.
    But what we loved about "Beto"s stand- was it's bare-bones simplicity.....
    No Tortas.
    No Tacos.
    No Tamales.
    Just Hot Dogs wrapped in bacon.
    2 types of homemade drinks ( a LimonAde and a rich Horchata with a plenty of coarsely ground cinnamon!yummm)
    and Chips.
    Basic.
    and To the Point.....as seen in this image...
    Image

    The bun gets sweet from being griddled along side of the bacon wrapped dog-the melody of flavors,
    heightened by the heat of the Grilled Chile,
    make this "dining-ala-dusty-gravel-lot" experience one not to be forgotten any time soon!
    Image

    The NYTimes back in August of 2009 covered this unique food event/item as well-
    http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/dining/26unit.html
    Make it a point the next time you're out this way!

    (oh, and BTW - the "indoor (El Guero Canelo on Oracle) place"- fuggabaout it- they pale in comparison- a soggy steamed mess,IMHO!!) :cry:
  • Post #9 - April 2nd, 2011, 9:08 am
    Post #9 - April 2nd, 2011, 9:08 am Post #9 - April 2nd, 2011, 9:08 am
    Coming back from a day in the desert, we shot an immediate u-turn when we spotted this little stand by the side of the highway.

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    Note available varieties:

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    I scrutinized my “regular” sausage before consumption:

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    It was damn good. One of the better ones I’d had.

    Image

    A problem with the versions at many of these roadside stands is that they seem, unlike the pork-belly-shrouded-franks of Blanco Diaz’s Delicias Mexicanas in Pilsen, to precook the dogs (perhaps offsite) with very thin slices of bacon. The wieners are then held in metal containers, causing the thin bacon to drain itself of juice and join as one with the hot dog. Sometimes, the bacon is almost imperceptible.

    Still, a fine snack.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #10 - April 8th, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Post #10 - April 8th, 2011, 12:49 pm Post #10 - April 8th, 2011, 12:49 pm
    Variation on a theme, the Tiger Homewrecker, now available in Augusta, Georgia:

    Image

    Bacon-wrapped Nathan's dogs, with chili, onions, cheese, etc.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #11 - April 10th, 2011, 7:51 am
    Post #11 - April 10th, 2011, 7:51 am Post #11 - April 10th, 2011, 7:51 am
    At Baconfest yesterday, Jared Wentworth and the Old Town Social Team served up a pleasant surprise: Tijuana Dogs.

    Image
    Image

    Authentic? No idea. I have only a fuzzy recollection of my last lost weekend in Tijuana, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t serve anything this good. The house-made dog, stuffed with Monterrey Jack (a cheese here rendered edible), lime aioli balancing the richness, better than anything I ate in Arizona last week.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #12 - August 12th, 2011, 4:17 pm
    Post #12 - August 12th, 2011, 4:17 pm Post #12 - August 12th, 2011, 4:17 pm
    Sonoran hot dog-related indictments: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/a ... 73ce1.html
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #13 - August 17th, 2011, 8:55 am
    Post #13 - August 17th, 2011, 8:55 am Post #13 - August 17th, 2011, 8:55 am
    BeeZ wrote:El Guero Canelo is my personal favorite as well.
    +1 but I'm certainly not going to turn down a Sonoran hot dog from BK or elsewhere.

    We vacationed in Tucson in March of this year, everyday I made a trip to either El Guero Canelo or BK for a Sonoran hot dog 'snack' :mrgreen:
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #14 - December 9th, 2012, 3:39 pm
    Post #14 - December 9th, 2012, 3:39 pm Post #14 - December 9th, 2012, 3:39 pm
    Just wanted to stimulate some folks taste buds......

    Image
    Betto's Sinaolese Style Hot Dog= The Real Deal! by Man_of Steel, on Flickr

    We visited Betto's on Alvernon gravel topped stand on our annual trek to tucson- and found out he goes through about 2- 3 boxes of 60 count
    Hot Dogs per day- that's about 150 Weenies per day.
    Image
    Sinaolese Style Sonoran Hot Dogs in Tucson Arizona by Man_of Steel, on Flickr

    we" figured" from this low-overhead small stand- Betto and his crew are making a very nice living in Tucson!
    Image
    Betto's Work Surface = Grillin' them Weenies by Man_of Steel, on Flickr

    Also, try the Truck Stands on Grant Avenue near 6th (b4 Oracle) next time your in Tucson!
  • Post #15 - December 20th, 2012, 12:08 pm
    Post #15 - December 20th, 2012, 12:08 pm Post #15 - December 20th, 2012, 12:08 pm
    David Hammond wrote:A problem with the versions at many of these roadside stands is that they seem, unlike the pork-belly-shrouded-franks of Blanco Diaz’s Delicias Mexicanas in Pilsen, to precook the dogs (perhaps offsite) with very thin slices of bacon. The wieners are then held in metal containers, causing the thin bacon to drain itself of juice and join as one with the hot dog. Sometimes, the bacon is almost imperceptible.


    Yeah, I had the same issue. Unfortunately, my sample is only of one, but it was at a well-regarded roadside stand called Nogales in Phoenix (yes, I understand it isn't Tucson.) For something that looked so delicious, I was actually surprised at how relatively flavorless it was. I couldn't taste the bacon and the hot dog was pretty average (and I'm being a bit charitable there.) It looked, though, like fast food porn.

    Now those griddled dogs I see upthread, those look like they would change my mind.
  • Post #16 - December 20th, 2012, 1:23 pm
    Post #16 - December 20th, 2012, 1:23 pm Post #16 - December 20th, 2012, 1:23 pm
    @ Binko-
    , those look like they would change my mind.


    Not only- will Beto's Sinaolese Hot Dogs change "your Mind"-
    they will change your ZIP CODE (to live in Tucson!- at least P/T!)
    and your life!

    Guar-an=teed!
    :D
  • Post #17 - December 20th, 2012, 9:46 pm
    Post #17 - December 20th, 2012, 9:46 pm Post #17 - December 20th, 2012, 9:46 pm
    Sweet Willie wrote:
    BeeZ wrote:El Guero Canelo is my personal favorite as well.
    +1 but I'm certainly not going to turn down a Sonoran hot dog from BK or elsewhere.

    We vacationed in Tucson in March of this year, everyday I made a trip to either El Guero Canelo or BK for a Sonoran hot dog 'snack' :mrgreen:



    My boss asked me to plan his vacation as I had been in Tucson. It was kind of funny as I had planned to head down to Tucson in 2012 but never made it. I had a number of restaurant recommendations from my research. BK's Sonoran Dogs topped the list.

    His kids all liked those dogs a lot.

    Enough to convince me to head down to Tucson next month.
  • Post #18 - December 20th, 2012, 9:50 pm
    Post #18 - December 20th, 2012, 9:50 pm Post #18 - December 20th, 2012, 9:50 pm
    David Hammond wrote:A problem with the versions at many of these roadside stands is that they seem, unlike the pork-belly-shrouded-franks of Blanco Diaz’s Delicias Mexicanas in Pilsen, to precook the dogs (perhaps offsite) with very thin slices of bacon.

    Yeah, my understanding is that it's an unfortunate health code issue... no actual cooking allowed on site.

    El Guero Canelo is solid, I think. Certainly more of a dog than Nogales Hot Dogs up in Phoenix -- but man, that Betto's dog looks awesome.

    I've been wanting to do a Tucson Sonoran dog crawl for a while now... hopefully it happens soon, and if so, I'll definitely report back. Thanks for a couple of additions to the list :-)

    Incidentally, if any of you guys swing up to Phoenix while visiting Tucson, drop me a line so we can grub!
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #19 - December 21st, 2012, 7:51 am
    Post #19 - December 21st, 2012, 7:51 am Post #19 - December 21st, 2012, 7:51 am
    Two Points to "Counter" to other comments:
    :P
    1) Avoid the Sitdown Restaurants that serve Sianolese Sonoran Style HotDogs. It is like trying to compare a Handmade-Tortilla-Grilled-Meat-
    laden-Taco-on Maxwell Street, to the Fast Food Chain that's named ___co Bell. We- my entire family of "Foodies"/self- proclaimed "Food Police"- dined at El Guero Canelo- and they ALL AGREED- there's no comparison to Beto's wonderful weenies. And-
    they all agreed that El Guero Canelo- tried to "fast-food-ize" a good idea- a botched it HORRIBLY. Do not waste your time ,money
    or stomach capacity in consuming that gringo nonsense- called- El Guero Canelo. yecccch!

    2)
    Yeah, my understanding is that it's an unfortunate health code issue... no actual cooking allowed on site.
    WRONG AGAIN my little gringo friend- as my pictures show- Beto's Cart- in the parking lot on Alvernon- does it all- on site.
    Nothing is "pre-cooked" there- nor at the lovely Food Trucks I mention in my thread about Tucson's amazing Ensenada-style Marlin Stuffed Taco's as well as their fired Shrimp Tacos.Maybe- they may prepare their salsas- and other condiments back at The Mother Ship- but all of the deepfrying
    for the shrimp + fish + Marlin Relleno Stuffed Tacos- are done- right there- in the Truck/Trailer.

    I hope that you all make it out West- to try these wonderful, Regional delights!
    You will be amazed.
    :D
  • Post #20 - December 21st, 2012, 9:38 am
    Post #20 - December 21st, 2012, 9:38 am Post #20 - December 21st, 2012, 9:38 am
    Hombre de Acero wrote:2)
    Yeah, my understanding is that it's an unfortunate health code issue... no actual cooking allowed on site.
    WRONG AGAIN my little gringo friend- as my pictures show- Beto's Cart- in the parking lot on Alvernon- does it all- on site.

    The regulation is at the county level, Hombre. Nogales Hot Dogs is in Maricopa County. Beto's is in Pima County.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #21 - April 7th, 2014, 1:42 am
    Post #21 - April 7th, 2014, 1:42 am Post #21 - April 7th, 2014, 1:42 am
    Doing a day trip down to Tucson today to pound as many Sonoran hot dogs as possible in a three hour window. Any other recent intel would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise, wish me luck. Will report back.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #22 - April 7th, 2014, 5:58 pm
    Post #22 - April 7th, 2014, 5:58 pm Post #22 - April 7th, 2014, 5:58 pm
    Sweet Willie wrote:
    BeeZ wrote:El Guero Canelo is my personal favorite as well.
    +1 but I'm certainly not going to turn down a Sonoran hot dog from BK or elsewhere.

    We vacationed in Tucson in March of this year, everyday I made a trip to either El Guero Canelo or BK for a Sonoran hot dog 'snack' :mrgreen:



    Personally, I found both the El Guero Canelo and the BK Sonoran hot dogs to be a MAJOR, MAJOR disappointment. The hot dogs are small and are completely overwhelmed by all of the toppings and the meat itself is mediocre.

    A much better Sonoran hot dog is served at the Pima Air Museum's snack bar. They use a 4 oz. all beef hot dog and a decent roll that will hold all of the ingredients.

    BKs does serve a bacon wrapped HOT banana pepper stuffed with cheese that is pretty good. According to Tucson Weekly, they also serve a wicked carne asada taco but I have not tried their tacos, yet. Maybe I will do that this weekend.

    By the way, most of the food trucks that are on 6th & 12th Avenues in Tucson (Pima Co.) cook on site. Occasionally, you might see a "traditional" hot dog cart but those are mighty rare.

    I might add that the guys running the Sonoran hot dog stand near the Phoenix Airport Inn Suite parking lot were also grilling the dogs.
  • Post #23 - May 28th, 2014, 2:17 am
    Post #23 - May 28th, 2014, 2:17 am Post #23 - May 28th, 2014, 2:17 am
    I consider last month's trip to Tucson both a huge success, and also a failure of sorts. I say a failure of sorts, because I'd planned on a massive Sonoran hot dog crawl. I marked nine on my map. I planned, realistically, to hit seven. But due to my inability to only eat half a dog at each place as per the original plan, I threw in the towel after five. But I call the trip a huge success because despite falling short of that lofty goal, I feel like I learned pretty much all I need to know. My experience with Sonoran dogs in Tucson is, admittedly, limited, but even so, I feel pretty confident that I've nailed down three guiding truisms... which I'll get to after some of the details.

    The dog crawl was bookended by stops at Little Cafe Poca Cosa (another post for another time, but suffice it to say that the chile Colorado was dynamite), and to set the baseline, a couple of friends and I started with the brick and mortar heavy hitters -- BK, and El Güero Canelo. I don't know that it's been fully explained above that these are the two titans of the Tucson Sonoran hot dog scene. Put simply, BK & ECG : Tucson :: Geno's & Pat's : Philly. In more ways than one, as it turns out. But first, BK:

    bkdog.jpg Dog @ BK

    This is pretty much what I've come to expect -- the dog with bacon, beans, tomatoes, onions, mustard and mayonnaise, jalapeño salsa, and a griddled güero chile on the side, with a condiment cart that also offers sliced canned mushrooms, shredded cheddar cheese, and a borderline watery avocado salsa. In fact, I was surprised by the consistency of toppings across all five joints, but more on that later. It's what you expect. Pillowy soft, sweet bun, that mix of bean and bacon and spice, with just enough mayo and mustard to make cultures collide... it's good. And I wish I'd noticed that they had a second condiment bar near the satellite grill up front before I had finished the first dog, because that's the one big point that I think BK has going for it -- unusual toppings. There's the standard condiment bar mentioned above, but at BK there's a second condiment bar with things like finely diced jicama in a slightly spicy, creamy sauce, minced sauteed mushrooms, and a few other unusual toppings. This, I dug, and for this, I give BK credit.

    egcdog.jpg Dog @ El Güero Canelo

    But then there's the other heavy hitter, El Güero Canelo, and all were in agreement that while we dug the expanded topping options at BK, at its core EGC serves a better dog -- meatier, better quality sausage (relative scale, here), crisper bacon -- the base is stronger. And on that basis, I can kind of see what inspires the endless BK or EGC battle. And I choose... neither.

    But first a stop at El Manantial, one of the three roadside carts we'd check out.

    manantialexterior.jpg El Manantial

    Let it be known that the carts are everywhere. There are parts of town we drove through where it seemed like there was at least one on every block. And they all look like this -- a portable cart on a trailer, some kind of sunshade or pop-up tent, some folding tables and chairs, and a pile of boxes and coolers.

    manantialdog.jpg Dog @ El Manantial

    El Manantial's dog was similar to BK's and EGC's... similar enough that I started to wonder if I'd made a mistake in planning to consume seven of these. But this was my introduction to the bacon-wrapped and cheese-stuffed güero chile, which was a kind of fun departure from the plain ones. Personally speaking, more diverting than a selling point, but YMMV. Another solid entry. But it was the next stop where I think the overarching law that governs Sonoran hot dog quality made itself known to me.

    ruizexterior.jpg Ruiz Hot Dogs

    Ruiz Hot Dogs. Another vacant, dusty corner, another Sonoran hot dog cart. This one a little more haphazard-looking than most.

    ruizinterior.jpg The Fellas

    You know the scene in Blade Runner where Deckard gets noodles from a street vendor? This is what Blade Runner would have looked like if Ridley Scott had had the foresight to realize that it would be Mexican culture working its way into our street scenes rather than Japanese. But hey, it was the '80s. Anyway, I got a pretty good shot of the prep area here as well:

    ruizprep.jpg The Griddle and Cold Table

    This seems pretty typical of the roadside carts -- griddle for the dogs and chiles, small cold table for the toppings, and a stack of buns on the side. But here is where the enormous chasm between Sonoran hot dogs that are fine and Sonoran hot dogs that are awesome became abundantly clear:

    ruizdog.jpg Dog @ Ruiz Hot Dogs

    Hombre's on point. Griddled bun. Seriously, that's it. And it's all the freaking difference in the world. Warm and toasty and crisp, it takes the good and makes it awesome. The bun at Ruiz was griddled to a golden brown all the way around, and the importance of this cannot possibly be overstated. After this, there is no going back. Bonus: the jalapeño salsa actually had some kick here, and the güero chile was my favorite of the day, with a really heavy hit of salt and lime.

    sinaloenseexterior.jpg El Sinaloense #5

    Thankfully, El Sinaloense -- a different location that Hombre's, I believe -- was no letdown. By now, you should be sensing a theme when it comes to the look of these places...

    sinaloenseinterior.jpg Dog Prep

    ...and the prep area...

    sinaloensedog.jpg Dog @ El Sinaloense

    ...and the dog, which got even a little more char than Ruiz's. To me, Ruiz vs. El Sinaloense was a toss-up, though the fact that I now had Sonoran hot dogs backed up into my sinuses may have dulled my enthusiasm for the last entrant somewhat. I think the chile at Ruiz may have been the tiebreaker for me. Of course, El Sinaloense brushed on a nice, healthy dose of butter before griddling the bun, so... tough call. But this was, in terms of preparation, very similar to Ruiz, and in terms of composition, almost exactly the same as everywhere else.

    So here are the three lessons I learned:

    The Toppings Are All The Same
    This really surprised me. I thought there would be some kind of variation. But no, with the exception of BK's extended topping bar, the uniformity of toppings from place to place was remarkable. The prep may differ, some of the ingredients may be of slightly higher quality at some joints, but basically, they're all serving the exact same thing.

    The Griddled Bun Is EVERYTHING
    This was by far the most important lesson learned on this trip. I'm sure that squishy, spongy style has its fans, but if you ask me, there is a huge gaping chasm between the dogs with griddled buns and those without. The griddled bun is just right. I now have little desire for Sonoran dogs without griddled buns, and I really want to find someplace up here that does them this way.

    The Big Boys Suck
    Relatively speaking, of course. Everywhere you hear, it's all about BK and EGC, BK and EGC, BK and EGC, the best places in Tucson. Which is best? Well, say the wrong one and you've got a fight. But it's BK or EGC. And this is so not the case. Really, I've got about zero desire to go back to either. Which isn't to say that I didn't enjoy their dogs, but it's just no contest for me at all. IMO, if you aren't griddling that bun to a deep, golden brown, you're making a second-rate Sonoran dog. I don't know how they cemented their position as the two dominant players in the Tucson Sonoran hot dog scene, but I think it's completely unwarranted. Get thee to a roadside stand that griddles the bun posthaste.

    BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs
    www.bktacos.com
    5118 S. 12th Avenue
    Tucson, AZ 85706
    520.295.0105

    El Güero Canelo
    www.elguerocanelo.com
    5201 S. 12th Avenue
    Tucson, AZ 85706
    520.295.9005

    El Manantial
    NW corner of S. Park Avenue & E. 36th Street
    Tucson, AZ 85713

    Ruiz Hot Dogs
    NW corner of S. 6th Avenue & W. 22nd Street
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    El Sinaloense #5
    SE corner of E. Lee Street & N. Alvernon Way
    Tucson, AZ 85712
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com

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