“I haven’t eaten a hot dog in over two years,” I say to my dad. This may be hard to swallow, no pun intended, considering I grew up in Chicago with its world-famous Chicago-style hot dog. Today, I eat. Not a Chicago dog or a store-bought beef frank you nuke for a minute in the microwave and slap on a bun creating simple condiment art with mustard squeezed from a plastic bottle. No, no, no. We are going to relish in the take down of two Sonoran Dogs apiece at El Guero Canelo in Tucson, AZ.
“I’m ready,” I say as we walk through the entrance of the restaurant. Three sides of the building are comprised of glass walls with the condiment bar lying in the middle. I eye the condiment station knowing I’m going to be dipping lightly colored crunchy tortilla chips into the hottest mouth-watering salsa I can find. Napkins will be in abundance to wipe away not only the galactic mess made from chowing down two Sonoran Dogs and a hearty portion of chips and salsa but also the volcanic runny nose that will ensue. Why settle for anything less.
I walk up to the queue line with Dad. We weave back and forth staring aimlessly at the colorful menus above the registers as if some strange universal force is going to change our minds from eating something other than a Sonoran Dog. As my dad holds his money clip in his hands I hear him say, “You can have Burros, Tacos, Tortas, Caramelos, Quesadillas.” His words travel in my right ear and feverishly escape out my left without provocation. He knows this, he knows I know this, but this is the action that takes place in line while waiting to order “The Cinnamon Blonde’s” (El Guero Canelo) specialty.
“Can I help you?” asks a soft-spoken Latino woman with a smile.
“Four Sonoran Dogs, two orders of tortilla chips, I’ll have a diet coke,” Dad says. “What will you have to drink son?”
“I’ll have lemonade,” I say.
I grab the red plastic tray our tortilla chips and drinks are lying on and make a B line for the table where Dad lays down our napkins. I know he is not messing around. He knows to park our hungry bellies right next to the condiment bar for fast easy access to all the salsa we can possibly chow down with our chips as we wait for our Sonoran Dogs to come off the flat top grill.
A woman looks at me as I glare over the various salsas. “I’m scanning for the hottest salsa,” I say.
“Me too,” she says.
“Good luck and enjoy,” I say smiling.
I trek to the other side of what I refer to as ‘salsa central’ and scoop spoonful after spoonful into three small plastic cups and scamper back to our table. I came here to eat a Mexican version of a hot dog and there is no better way to prepare for this feast than by starting off with a scorched tongue from this spicy sauce and living with the joyous pain for a few hours.
While we crunch down on our chips, I grab the receipt inquiring what our order number is.
“Let me see that,” Dad says.
I hand him the paper and he stands up and walks away. “Here they come,” I say to myself. A few seconds later, without fanfare or glory, Dad places the red tray of four bacon wrapped hot dogs stuffed in a steamed bun on the table. The Sonoran Dogs are topped with a ladle size scoop of pinto beans, diced onions, tomatoes, golden mustard, jalapeño sauce and mayonnaise. With my tongue on fire, my nose running and a spicy induced cough clearing my throat, I pick up my fiesta in a bun, look at different angles for my initial approach, hone in and bite down. Dad looks at me with his eyes wide open moving left to right and back again. His facial expression and his eyes are all that needs to be said for what we both understand.
Feature photo by Lorna Fox via Trover.com