Wrapped in bacon and topped with sautéed onions, jalapeños, and an array of sauces, Mexican style hot dogs are a ubiquitous part of California street food. Often called “danger dogs,” these savory flavor bombs are particularly popular in Los Angeles and a classic feature on street corners and sporting events.
The story of how hot dogs became a Californian street food icon begins in Hermosillo, a city in the Mexican state of Sonora. Hot dogs migrated to Mexico from America and by the 1950s, enterprising Mexican chefs started to add their own local spins to the iconic American food. Their creation was the Sonoran dog, a recipe that features a kaleidoscope of ingredients, including: A bacon wrapped hot dog, pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, mustard, salsa, Mexican crema, and roasted chili peppers, all stuffed in a large Mexican bolillo roll. This delicacy eventually migrated back to America and is particularly popular in Arizona.
There’s no exact timeline on how the Sonoran hot dog migrated to Los Angeles. As Mexicans immigrated to Los Angeles, many of them opened street food carts. The hot dog was a natural choice as a street food since it can be made with relatively affordable ingredients with low upstart costs. However, adjustments were made to the original Sonoran dog recipe. While Los Angeles style hot dogs maintained the bacon wrap and other components, many toppings like pinto beans were discarded. This is probably due to the much smaller size of the traditional American hot dog bun when compared to the bolillo roll, which were difficult to source for many vendors at the time.
A Street Food Staple
Unlike the boiled hot dogs of New York street carts, Mexican hot dogs are always cooked on a griddle. The smells of melting bacon fat and onions flowing from these carts is a perfect marketing tool, tempting everyone who walks past. Street vendors will usually cook multiple hot dogs on the griddle with a pile of onions and peppers (jalapeños or serranos) on the side. Condiments include ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, crema and sometimes fresh cilantro.
As a street food, Mexican style hot dogs can be found everywhere from California sporting events, busy intersections, bars, and even parking lots. However, these hot dog carts are also unregulated and technically not legal according to the California Department of Health. But that fact has not stopped these hot dog vendors from offering a popular late night snack, especially after a few drinks.
(By Chef Brian Duffy)
A Philadelphia native, Brian Duffy is a television personality, culinary consultant, and chef. He is best known for the popular Spike series, Bar Rescue, where he tours the country helping failing bars and restaurants. As a culinary expert, Chef Duffy studied at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and has worked for James Beard Award winning Chef Jean Marie LaCroix at The Four Seasons in Philadelphia. In 2012, Chef Duffy formed “Duffified Experience Group,” a consulting firm that works with smaller restaurant & bar operators.
- 4 hot dogs (Feltmans preferred)
- 4 Martins Potato rolls
- ¼ cup Queso Anejo or Cotija, grated or crumbled
- 1 cup chorizo (save fat)
- thinly sliced jalapeños for garnish
- 1 cup heirloom tomato, small diced
- 1 small jalapeño, minced
- .25 cup onion, minced
- 1 tbsp cilantro, minced
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp oregano, minced
- Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
For Lime Crema
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1.5 tsp lime juice
- Dash Valentina Hot Sauce
- To make pico, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 2-plus hours to allow flavors to develop.
- To make lime crema, mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place in refrigerator.
- Place hot dogs in a pot of hot water until ready for use.
- In a sauté pan, cook chorizo until done. Set aside and save the grease.
- In pan or grill, cook hot dogs on all sides to desired char. Set aside.
- Toast buns quickly in chorizo grease. Set aside.
- Place some cheese on each bun. Then, place a hot dog on top.
- Top hot dog with chorizo, more cheese and pico. Drizzle lime crema over everything.
- Garnish with cilantro & thinly sliced jalapeños
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