Voices: Sonoran Dogs

What Makes Your Sonoran Hot Dog the Best in Town?

September 1, 2014

Issue 8: September/October 2014Voices

Rafael Gastelum

Karamelo King 3752 E. Grant Road

Interview with Rafael Gastelum

We’ve been making Sonoran hot dogs since 2001. There was no one else on this side of the town, which is why we decided to put it here. We sell tacos and hot dogs. I think our hot dogs are special because of the quality of the food. The vegetables are good. We toast the bread and put cheese inside so it melts. Some people like it with two hot dogs inside the bun. Some people like mayo and mustard at the bottom of the bread. People like it all kinds of ways. We’ll make it the way you want it.

El caramelo means steak quesadilla in Spanish. I don’t know who called a quesadilla a caramelo but it’s a quesadilla with cheese and steak. We can put chicken or steak, or both. We have a lot of customers from the University of Arizona. Sometimes on Friday and Saturday night it gets crazy at 2 a.m. But it’s nice to have those customers.


Alejandro Maciel

Ruiz Hot Dogs 22nd St. & Sixth Ave.

Interview with Alejandro Maciel

We’ve been here at Sixth and 22nd for five years. Here we give good service to our customers and always good presentation on our hot dogs. We put everything on it, because that’s what our customers like. What makes ours special is that we toast the bun, which not everyone does now. Other places are finally getting the hang of it and toasting it now. But the moment we started the cart, we toasted the buns. Butter and toast. We put the basics—beans, onion, tomato, the sauce, mustard, mayo, whatever makes it looks good.

I come from a place where we eat a lot of tacos. Sonoran dogs come from Sonora, which is Mexico, but with the hot dog, you get something different. It’s not like we’re always eating the same thing over and over. It’s something different.


Alejandro Gonzalez

El Manantial Tacos y Hotdogs Park Ave. & 36th St.

Interview with Alejandro Gonzalez

We moved to Tucson from Oregon 11 years ago. I’ve been working here since I was 8 and now I’m almost 20. We have a lot of customers that we know by name because they like to come here all the time. A manantial is kind of like a hot spring. When we first moved here, there was a Mexican soap opera with the same name. I guess it just rang with my dad. When we make our hot dogs, we try to make sure that the ingredients we put in it are spread across the whole hot dog. I’ve gone to other hot dog stands, I won’t say any names, and let’s say one corner of the hot dog has the beans, and the other corner has the onion, so you don’t get the flavor all at the same time. We like to take our time and spread out everything. One of our signature things is the bacon-wrapped chiles. We put cheese and then we wrap in bacon and it comes free with every hot dog. People come here and get two hot dogs and a soda for $6 and they leave happy.


Alberto Estrada

El Sinaloense #5 1526 N. Alvernon Way

Interview with Alberto Estrada

We’ve been selling hot dogs for five years. There’s also El Sinaloense #1 that’s been going for 10 years. There are five of us around town. Same name; different truck. Other people come and they say, “I like your hot dogs, they’re the best in town.” I tell them, “Well that’s my job.” You come in to my job, I’ll make you the best hot dogs, and you’re living happy, you know?

All the time people come here and they say, I tried this other place but I like it more here. I don’t know why. It’s the same hot dog and the same bun, because we buy it in the same store. But maybe here, we get everything fresh, every day. Tomato, onion, the wiener. Every day. I like my dogs with beans, fresh onions, tomato, mayo, mustard, jalapeño sauce. And the yellow pepper on the side. I toast the bread with butter. It’s very good. Maybe that’s why people like it here.


Walter Urebe

Aqui Con el Nene Wetmore Road & Flowing Wells Road

Interview with Walter Urebe

We’ve been making Sonoran hot dogs for nine years. My cousin started the business. We have a lot of return customers. A lot of American customers and Mexicans, too. When people from Mexico come to shop, they stop by the mall, and buy some hot dogs. We had a little stand in Mexico, too. That’s where we came from.

Our special hot dog is the chipilón style, which comes with toasted bread. We have good ingredients. We make a special sauce—we have something special in everything we make. We put beans, green onions, red onions, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeño sauce. Yellow pepper on the side. All the hot dogs come wrapped in bacon. When you order chipilón style, we put cheese on the bread, put it on the grill to toast the bread, and melt the cheese, and then put on all the stuff after that. All my food is fresh. All day, we make it fresh.


Daniela Arballo

El Güero Canelo 5201 S. 12th Ave.

Interview with Daniela Arballo

We’ve been making hot dogs for 20 years—it’s a family restaurant. Sonoran hot dogs are how we got famous. They’re the best ones in town—they’re really good. What makes them different? The taste. The way we do it. Bread, bacon, beans, onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeño sauce. That’s the way that it’s good. We give customers the option if they want to toast their bread. They can order it just the way they like it.

We have a lot of Mexican customers. They like it because we’re Sonoran. There are a lot of people from Sonora here. People come here because they feel like they’re at home. They eat a hot dog and probably they’re transported back to Mexico. When I eat a Sonoran dog, I like to toast the bread and put some mayo, put the wiener, and then beans, onion, and a lot of mayo. No mustard, no jalapeño. I’m Mexican, but I don’t like chile.

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