Battle of the Dishes

Sonoran Dog Skirmish: Nogales Hot Dog vs. El Sabroso Truck

L.A. Dog? Ha! We don't think so. Those copycats might think they started the bacon-wrapped hot dog trend, but Arizonans knows the truth. Sonoran dogs did it first, and they did it better. With beans, hot sauce, mayo, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, onions, and a host of other possible toppings, including roasted or pickled peppers either on top or on the side, Sonoran dogs pretty much have it all. We especially can't get enough of the Sonoran dog's take on the bun -- a squishy, soft bollilo.

If you drive on Indian School Road from one side of Phoenix to the other on any given night, you'll see lots of roadside Mexican pop-up joints serving Sonoran dogs. It's hard to know which is best when there are so many choices, but we picked two of our favorites to battle each other.

See Also: - Battle of the Food Truck Hot Dogs: Epic vs. Short Leash - Six Phoenix Food Trucks, Rated

In This Corner: Nogales Hot Dog

The Setup: A cart, a tent, and a large banner that reads "Nogales Hot Dog" will be your only clues for finding the small stand on the southwest corner of Indian School Road and 20th Street. The service is friendly and prompt and they're used to gringos, so you won't feel completely out of place if you took French in school instead of Spanish. (Oh wait, that was us.)

The Good: Even though there's a steady stream of people ordering, it takes about two minutes to order and start eating your Sonoran dog. The best part is it's a legit Sonoran dog -- bacon-wrapped and not with crumbles on top. They also offer a generous topping station with different salsas and relish for particular folks.

The Bad: We aren't that particular, and as the ever-wise culinary expert Tom Haverford once said, "Drizzle it on for me. I ain't your maid." We like our Sonoran dogs with everything actually on them. Just pile it on for us and we'll eat it. Plus this particular bollilo was actually somehow too soft for us. No one likes a lap full of toppings.

In The Other Corner: El Sabroso

The Setup: Don't fear the west side. If you drive west on Indian School Road, past 39th Avenue, you'll find El Sabroso's large red and yellow circus-like tent on the north side of the road. The silver food truck is a serious operation, serving more people than its single server seemingly can handle. We did have to use our limited Spanish vocabulary here (es muy auténtico), so when the lady asked, "Todo?" we eagerly said "Si!"

The Good: Todo es todo. Seriously. They put everything you could want on this hot dog, and it bursts with flavor. Plus the bolillo holds up to all the add-ons, and its slightly sweet flavor adds another level to the whole experience. Best of all, we were serenaded by live accordion music.

The Bad: Here's the bad news.El Sabroso uses bacon crumbles. Though this completely changes the texture, it did add a more pronounced bacon-y flavor. We're so torn.

And the winner is . . . El Sabroso. Choosing the bacon crumble over the wrapped dog may cause outrage, but just try it. It's seriously so flavorful that you'll see what we mean. Sabroso is right! Plus, the ambiance is a little more fun.

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch