Arizona Sonoran dog named in US top 10 is not my favorite
El Güero Canelo’s bacon-wrapped Sonoran dog has once again made national news. Tucson’s favorite is on Travel Magazine’s Top 10 Hot Dogs in America list.
The article, which was shared to me recently, places Sonoran’s famous hot dog joint at No.7 on a list that includes other big names like Jimmy’s Red Hots in Chicago and Crif Dogs in New York, this as the article indicates is “frankly the best”.
The short blurb on El Güero begins with a questionable claim: “Walk into any restaurant in Arizona that serves hot dogs and they’ll have a Sonora-style hot dog on the menu,” then goes on to say that El Güero is the best.
Frank fantasy: He may be AZ’s most expensive Sonoran dog. Is it worth $ 18?
The south side taqueria was put in the limelight in 2018 when it received the coveted James Beard Award in the America’s Classics category for timeless dining. It was a special time for Arizonans and lovers of casual Sonoran cuisine, which often goes unnoticed by major award organizations.
In fact, Güero’s patriarch Daniel Contreras told me the day he received the award that he hadn’t even heard of James Beard until the organization called him this morning- the.
I’m generally skeptical of lists, which are often produced from simple internet research rather than the author actually tasting the foods they write about, and this recent got me thinking about Sonora dogs and why El Güero always gets recognition.
I attribute it to the simple fact that judges and national food editors vote for and write about the places they’ve been. El Güero has a very Google-compatible 30-year history, as well as a former location in Phoenix. Tucson is a little less accessible than the capital of Arizona and tends to be under-represented in the national media.
Ask a local about Sonoran dogs
For those of us who live in Grand Canyon State, we have the home advantage. We know that when it comes to Sonoran food, a national list will always fall short of a local list. And in Tucson, the dogs in question basically have the birthright.
Hailing from the capital of Sonora, Hermosillo, a Sonoran Hound is a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with beans, mustard, mayonnaise, onions, green salsa, and tomatoes. I can tell you, with the authority of a hot dog judge, that El Güero is just a vendor in a spicy sea of excellent Sonoran hot dogs. And while I have great respect for the history and flavor of this Arizona classic, most Tucsonians would agree with me when I say there are better options in town.
Flavors of Sonora: Phoenix Restaurant makes the world’s best ham even better
Equally popular in Tucson, but not known nationally, is Güero’s longtime competitor BK Carne Asada. They settled across from El Güero in 1994 and beat them on Travel Channel’s “Food Wars” show in 2010.
In all fairness, I think rival dogs are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Both have a chewy, affordable bun and similar proportions of mustard, mayo, green salsa, and beans on a medium-sized sausage wrapped in bacon. They are good. Super even. But still not the best.
The best Sonoran dog in Tucson
I have eaten my share of Sonoran hot dogs in my professional life, and after judging a citywide Sonoran hot dog contest in 2010, I have had the same favorite vendor for over a decade.
The Ruiz Hot Dogs Cart at the northwest corner of South Sixth Avenue and 22nd Street is on another level. It’s not that the ingredients are different, they’re just tastier and work a little better than other dogos in town. Plus, their hot dog, the chipilon, is grilled on the grill before serving, adding crispness and heightened flavor.mash up any tasty and spicy pork toppings. After tasting most, if not all of Tucson’s Sonora dogs, these are the ones I recommend to locals and visitors.
Wondering where to go for the best Sonoran hot dogs in the Valley? I’m on the case. Look for a definitive guide later this year. For now, I can confidently say that the Ruiz Hot Dogs are worth checking out.
I have to say it: I could get banned from Tucson, but I don’t like Eegee
Ruiz hot dogs
Or: 1140 S. Sixth Avenue, Tucson.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
Price: $ 3.50 for a chipilon hot dog.
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