Monday, March 31, 2014

The Hot Dog, a love story

As you can tell from the post, what follows is food porn and our vegan and vegetarian friends will probably want to stop reading right now. It's such a shame though. If you only knew what you were missing!

The hotdog is a noble and misunderstood culinary creation. Exceptional examples are worth seeking out. Although in my youth I was a mustard and hotdog traditionalist (the classic ball park), in later years I discovered a broader hotdog world that included:

The chilli cheese sauce covered version known in eastern PA as a "Greeker" or at the Vienna Inn in VA as a "Vienna Dog". Basic boiled dog with a house chili sauce sprinkled with cheese and onion. Add extra mustard if your hangover is particularly bad or it's past 2am.

The Chicago Dog, where they are fearless in their addition of toppings and looks count for almost as much as taste.

As we've travelled the country over the past two years, I've become fond of the locally made natural casing hotdog. It's the dog that snaps in your mouth when you bite into it delivering a flood of juicy hotdoggity flavor directly to the appropriate taste glands.

It's now time to announce a new King of Hotdog Universe. All rise and hail the Sonoran Hotdog. Created in Tucson, AZ, the Sonoran Dog starts as a beef frank. gets wrapped in bacon, and is then grilled along with other bacon-wrapped franks until the bacon flavor integrates into the dog and lean chewy pieces of bacon fuse onto the outside of the frank giving a nice textural contrast to the juicey frank within. The finished frank is then placed in a soft, oversized Mexican bun and topped with chopped tomatoes, pinto beans, onions, a line of yellow mustard, hot green jalapeno sauce, and an artistic squiggle mayonnaise. Being a hotdog and mustard kind of guy, I was sceptical about the mayo, but much to my amazement, the combo really works! In fact, delete any one of the rainbow coalition of ingredients and the entire harmony of the Sonoran Dog collapses.

But the Sonoran is never complete without its sidekick the roasted guero pepper. It's a pepper a little bigger than a jalapeno, just about as hot, and much more yellow than green. The Sonoran is the only hotdog in the frank universe that has such an intense symbiotic relationship with a side dish.
There seem to be hundreds of locations in Tucson where you can try a Sonoran Dog. I've gone the extra mile and have identified the two best (you're welcome).

El Guero Canelo
5201 S. 12th Ave.
The original place that put the Sonoran Dog on the map.

BK Carne Asada and Hotdogs
5118 S. 12th Ave.
Hotdogs are the feature here, but the carne asada and salsa bar are also the best in Tucson.

On the Don't Bother, Save Yourself the Time list:
El Manantial Tacos Y Hotdogs
Park Ave. and 36th St.
This is a mobile food truck that seems to be permanently located in this lot and is frequently mentioned as a must stop on the Sonoran hotdog circuit. Don't bother. The location and quality of the dog are way overrated.


  1. A fun post. But how do we reconcile it with the old proverb, 'that hunger is the best sauce?'

    1. "Stay hungry. Stay foolish"
      - Steve Jobs

      But that's a problem with hot dogs. After eating them, you may be hungry again four or five days later.

  2. A few years back I was introduced to scone dogs at truck stops........a heart atack on your, I sure miss them!!!!


    1. They are such an indulgence. I eat a hot dog 2 or 3 times a year, so it better be a winner. They're like Belgium waffles. I eat them once a year on my birthday!

  3. Fun times at the Vienna Inn.....what did those dogs cost? $1.50 loaded up????? Looking forward to catching up soon!

  4. Ahhhh, the Vienna Inn. That place will still be churning out dogs and pitchers of beer long after we're all gone.

  5. We LOVE El Guero Canelo on S 12th. We first learned of it, oddly enough, because they were featured in an article in Sunset Magazine. They're "treat" food for sure. Maybe if we ride enough we'll be worthy of one this year.

    1. Luckily, there's lots of hiking and biking around Tucson to work off all of those Sonoran dogs and great Maxican food!