On the Road

On the Road with Bryan Roof: Sonoran Hot Dogs

Bryan enlists the help of Tucson local John Martinez to track down the best Sonoran hot dogs in that city. 

Published Oct. 30, 2023.

“Sonoran hot dogs are like mezcal,” says John Martinez, the chef-owner of Tucson’s Tito & Pep and Bryan’s guide for this trip, “one is not enough, but two is too many.”

Sonoran hot dogs typically consist of a hot dog that’s wrapped in bacon; griddled until crisp; plopped into a hollowed-out bolillo roll; and adorned with (takes a breath) grilled onions, pinto beans, chopped raw tomato and onion, crema or mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and jalapeño salsa. A charred güero chile is served alongside. 

It's a lot of food and a lot of flavor.

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John and Bryan set out to find the best Sonoran dogs in Tucson. They started at the source—that being one of the three El Güero Canelo locations in the city. This small franchise was started when Daniel Contreras opened a cart in downtown Tucson in the 1990; he is known as the man who brought Sonoran dogs to the people of Tucson. 

Next, they hit Ruiz Hot Dogs Los Chipilones, a hybrid cart-restaurant that seasons their griddled bolillo buns with granulated garlic for a unique touch. The guys were just getting warmed up. 

BK Tacos, a tavern-style restaurant specializing in carne asada and—you guessed it—dogs, served up their next round of Sonoran dogs. Aqui con El Nene and then El Sinaloense were the final stops on Bryan and John’s eating tour.  

So what makes a great Sonoran hot dog? With so many components, it’s imperative that they’re all in the proper complementary ratios. As John quipped, he and Bryan were just “Two guys seeking balance in a world full of hot dogs.”

Click below to watch the video and see all the hot dogs and locations. 

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