Five Favorite Sonoran Dogs in the Valley

A good Sonoran hot dog is the sum of all its parts, from the bacon down to the bun. And honestly, we could care less whether or not Arizona was the first to bacon-wrap a hot dog. So long as we get to benefit from the match made in heaven, you won't hear us complaining.

So what's so good about a Sonoran dog? Mesquite-smoked bacon elevates a humble hot dog from ho hum to mouth watering. The smoky southwest flavor is nestled in a fresh bolillo roll that creates a soft little boat for the dog. Then you load that sucker up with all sorts of toppings to taste, as each hot dog cart has its own special flair. Or stick with the original when the hotdoguero asks, "Con todo?" Pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, and mayo. Why mess with perfection?

Here are our Top 5 Favorite places to snag a Sonoran dog in the Valley, from fancy to bare bones food truck-style. When it's wrapped in bacon, ambiance is secondary to Sonoran dog bliss.

5. Vitamin T So it's not your traditional hot dog en estilo Sonora, but we're willing to give Vitamin T a pass. It's still a bacon-wrapped dog served in a soft bolillo bun, but the toppings are a little non-traditional. Cabbage, black bean spread, grilled onions, jalapeno salsa, mayo and mustard make this a fully loaded, and totally tasty Sonoran dog. But at $6 a pop, you better savor that flavor.

4. Moreno's Mexican Grill Another controversial pick on our list is the Sonoran dog at Moreno's, which sometimes crumbles precooked bacon atop their dogs instead of wrapping them and tossing it on the grill to crisp. Although we've had a bacon-wrapped dog here before (we'll never say when, AZ Health Dept), so on the list they go.

Pay $3 per dog and bring your order out to the hot dog guy manning the cart outside. Shortly thereafter you will be rewarded with a steamed bolillo roll filled with the dog, chopped tomatoes, onions, pinto beans, mayo, cotija cheese, salsa, or the more traditional ketchup and mustard for the unadventurous. It also comes with a freshly roasted chile pepper on the side and is a full restaurant to serve anyone in your party that is anti-lips and assholes on a bun.

3. La Katra Hot Dog Cart
Just south of Baseline off Priest, right after you enter Guadalupe, La Katra is on hand to deliver Sonoran dogs to the road weary. For $3 you get a dog, and the privilege of enjoying that dog while watching telenovelas on a bitsty lil television. Splurge for a Mexican coke in a bottle too. You deserve it.

All dogs come wrapped in bacon (which can be just a bit soggy at times, truth be told), and topped with beans, mayo, tomatoes, and all the self-serve toppings you can fit on top: canned mushrooms, relish, chiles, salsas, shredded cheddah, creamy avocado sauce, and powdery cotija cheese. The hours of operation are always a bit unreliable though, so shoot for later in the week (Thurs - Saturday) an hour or two after sunset.

2. Micky's Hot Dogs Micky's in Mesa is a little slice of Tucson here in the valley, with Sonoran dogs and caramelos almost as good as the originators, BK's (or El Guero Canelo, we don't want to get into that argument here). Slap down $2.50 at the register inside, and get your ticket for a dog. Bring it to the person manning the cart out front and watch your bacon-wrapped dreams come true.

Bacon wrapped around a hot dog is nestled in a steamed bolillo bun and then you tell the man what you want on top. Fully loaded with beans, mayo, tomatoes and the rest of the works, or with just a squirt of ketchup. There's no wrong way to do it at Micky's. Snag a tall glass of cold horchata inside (and maybe a caramelo or two) and help yourself to the fresh salsa bar. The aguacate salsa tastes great on top a Sonora dog.

1. Nogales Hot Dogs Better Sonoran dogs cannot be found in the Valley. Nogales Hot Dogs manages to hit all the right notes. Super crispy mesquite smoked bacon is lovingly wound around a juicy hot dog, and nestled in the doughy embrace of a fresh bolillo roll. When the hot dog man asks "Con todo?" it is your job to answer "Sí." You will be rewarded with a scoop of pinto beans (so good you could eat a cup solo), a row of chopped tomatoes, onions, and mayo. After that, it's up to you to work your hot dog magic. Add some aguacate salsa, cotija cheese, sliced mushrooms, salsa verde, or shredded cheddar. And grab a little pile of verduras en escabeche (pickled veggies) to nosh along side your dog. Consider it a palate cleanser.

Make sure to wash down your dogs (let's be honest, you'll have more than one) with a Mexican coke in a bottle, made with real sugar. Or try a piping hot cup of champurrado, which is kind of like Mexican hot chocolate but thickened by masa to give it a rich, silky texture. 

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Erica O'Neil