Sonoran Hot Dog- Estilo Sonora
If you are reading this, it means a few things happened. I did not jinx my team’s chances of making it to the Superbowl when I prematurely booked an Airbnb in Phoenix before they even made the playoffs. AND I’m not being held captive by a subterranean mutant family in a mud labyrinth beneath my ridiculously affordable rental house a la Justin Long in Barbarian; an actual thought that passed through my mind after watching the movie. It also means that even though I didn't pull the trigger on a $3,500 nosebleed ticket to watch my Eagles lose, the whirlwind weekend was not for naught as I finally got a chance to try the Southern Arizona foodigenous known as a Sonoran Hot Dog.
They're not exactly sure who the first person was to serve a hot dog wrapped in
bacon, topped with colorful squirts
of mayonnaise, jalapeño and hot sauces and a smothering of pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, diced onions and finished with an aggressive sprinkle of cotija cheese. All of this sits on the star of the show, a grilled bolillo roll, a chewier and fluffier hot dog bun which is hard to find anywhere outside of the Southwest. But whoever it was that created this beast, they were either a culinary madman, a gastronomic Jackson Pollock or a little of both. In the mid 1980's, dogueros, Mexican street vendors began peddling this style of hot dog outside of the University of Sonora. And much like other popular foods created to feed drunken college kids, like the fat cat sandwiches at Rutgers University and the Stouffer's French Bread pizza inspired by Cornell University food truck's, the Sonoran Hot Dog has gained appeal outside of the college grounds and outside of Mexico.
Welcomed Border Crossing
In 1993, well before breaking news alerts were a daily occurrence, El Dogo Estilo Sonora crossed the border, and the Arizona food scene would never be the same. Daniel Conteras opened his first hot dog stand on South 12th Avenue in Tucson. His former friend and co-worker Benjamin Galaz had a competing stand next door starting a lowkey hot dog rivalry that continues to this day. Contreras owns El Güero Canelo with 4 locations throughout Tucson and won a coveted James Beard America's Classics Award in 2018 for his hot dog creation. Meanwhile according to This is Tucson Mr. Galaz learned about Sonoran hot dogs as a child in his hometown Nacorazi, Mexico. He attended high school in Tucson and knew he wanted to bring his local hot dog traditions to his new town. He owns BK Carne Asada and Hot Dogs with multiple locations. As a result of Daniel and Benjamin leading the way, there are now well over 100 different stands throughout Tucson.
Meanwhile in Phoenix, there are scores of restaurants and hot dogs stands like El Capriochoso scattered throughout predominately Latino neighborhoods. Grab a seat under their plastic tent, listen to the soulful tenor of Carin León in the background and prepare to be transported to the streets of Hermosillo Mexico without needing your passport. Watch how the doguero dresses your hot dogs with the skill of a barista finishing off a cappuccino. It's not just a delicious meal, it's a piece of art.
That First Bite
Prepare yourself for a messy first bite. You'll feel the weight of your sandwich as you navigate it to your mouth, trying to assess the maximum angle of attack. Despite your best efforts, you'll likely get a mouthful of toasted bolillo bun and a cheek full mayo and a cheese. But that second chomp, you'll taste the porky smokiness of bacon and feel the snap of the perfectly cooked frank. The combination of ingredients may seem obnoxious at first, but you'll immediately see how the sweet, savory and heat all work perfectly. This addictive treat hits all the right taste and textural sensations making it one of my favorite styles of hot dogs. This will likely remain a regional foodigenous and something you need to search out on your next trip to the Waste Management Phoenix Open or Fiesta Bowl. Trust me, it's that good.
Next year is our year Eagles! #Fly