“Many may think eating at a restaurant that sets up in a parking lot after the car shop closes might be dicey as far as the health code goes....” (yelp.com). Ya think?
So what are we doing at 9:30 p.m. in the cold sitting at a folding table in said parking lot? We are partaking of one of our new passions—the Sonoran hot dog. What is a Sonoran hot dog, you ask? (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway.) According to tucsoncitizen.com: “The basic make-up of a Sonoran hot dog is a bacon-wrapped hot dog shoved into a soft Mexican roll topped with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.... Many feel the roll is important for the true taste experience. Usually it’s a Mexican bolillo roll (pronounced: bo-lee-yo roll), that is sometimes steamed to make it extra soft and fluffy.... The roll is so soft and fluffy, sometimes they seem to go down like cotton candy.”
We first encountered the noble Sonoran hot dog at El Guero Canelo in Tucson and have an unfulfilled craving since we left that city last January. So when Chuck discovered a Phoenix source, we knew that a trip was in order to Nogales Hot Dogs.
Sloan Burwell writing in Phoenix New Times said: “Pablo Perez makes the kind of hot dogs people dream about. For the last seven years, he's been introducing Phoenicians to the magic of the Sonoran Style Hot Dog, served out of a cheerful hot dog stand called Nogales Hot Dog #2.... You'll find Perez…seven nights a week from 6 PM to midnight, in the parking lot of Guitar and Keyboard City near 20th Street and Indian School in Central Phoenix.... Sit back and relax at one of the sparkling clean tables, catch a tela novella on the little TV, and marvel at the fruits of Pablo's labor.”
Pablo does a non-stop take-out business. A car would pull into the lot; someone would get out of the car and place the order; and quickly would return to the car carrying a brown paper bag filled with hot dog goodness. We were the only ones dining in that night (If you are eating in a parking lot are you dining in or dining out?),but we had the opportunity to talk with Pablo and his wife (sorry, we didn’t get her name) about the amount of work involved in running the stand.
Customers still call, saying, “I drove past your address this afternoon and didn’t see your stand,” said Pablo with a laugh.
Every night they drive the van pulling the hot dog cart onto the lot and set up the cart, condiment table, tables and chairs, and canopy. “It takes us 20 minutes,” Pablo noted. And at the end of the night, everything is taken down and packed up. Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and....
Pablo’s Sonoran includes the bacon wrapped hot dog, beans, chopped tomato, and a liberal squirt of mayo. Then you take your dog to the condiment bar (Does this seem as unusual to you as it does to me at an outdoor hot dog cart?) that includes guacamole, grated cheddar cheese, grated cotija cheese, fresh salsa verde, mushrooms, and pickled jalapenos. The guacamole and salsa verde are made daily by Pablo and his wife. Chuck ate his sans condiments, but I added the grated cheese and salsa verde to mine. As I sat down, Mrs. Perez brought us a dish containing grilled onions and a large grilled pepper.
I washed down my dog with a large cup of champurrado or Mexican hot chocolate laced with cinnamon, and Chuck drank a bottle of Coke bottled in Mexico and made with cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.
I am usually not a fan of “white fluffy bread,” but the soft rolls, which are cut to resemble a canoe and form a perfect cradle for the bacon-wrapped hot dog and toppings, work here. Pablo gets them fresh daily from a local Mexican bakery. Yes, they can fall apart from the weight of the hot dog, beans, tomatoes, mayo, and various condiments. But that is just a part of their attraction.
And what could be better than a pork product in a tube wrapped in bacon? I certainly can’t think of anything.
When naming Nogales Hot Dogs the Best of Phoenix Best Sonoran Hot Dog, New Times wrote: “The heck with healthful eating. As long as there are Sonoran hot dogs in the world, we must eat them. Any dog served in a piping hot, freshly baked sweet bun and wrapped in bacon, then smothered in diced tomato, guacamole, chopped onion, and beans is one worth eating. And the best of these can be found at Nogales Hot Dogs, a humble roadside stand with wieners so good we've forgotten all about Coney Island dogs and Chicago dogs and chili-cheese dogs and pretty much every other kind of hot dog we've ever tried.”
To this, I say Amen!!! and award Nogales Hot Dogs the ultimate 5.0 Addies.