Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
Sign In | Register for Free!
Restaurants Recipes Forums Eating Tours Merchandise FAQ Maps Insider

El Guero Canelo

5201 S. 12th Ave., Tucson, AZ - (520) 295-9005
Posted By Michael Stern on 11/24/2009 5:57:00 AM
Was the Sonoran hot dog invented in northern Mexico or southern Arizona? No one has been able to provide a conclusive answer to that question, but there is little doubt that the continent's most baroque wiener, which first appeared at street carts in Tucson in the late 1960s, found its chief proponent in 1993 when the Contreras family opened El Guero Canelo. Differences among the city's many "hot dogs estilo Sonora" are subtle, but no one could dispute that the one served by this happy restaurant is a benchmark.

As made at the cart to the side of the al fresco dining area, each bacon-wrapped beef dog is nestled deep within a big, supple Mexican bun as yeasty as a dinner roll, cut to form a pocket with closed ends that shore in the massive onslaught of condiments. The hot dog is accoutered with chopped tomatoes and onions, a few pinto beans, hot jalapeno sauce, yellow mustard and mayonnaise: a beautifully-balanced package. For those who crave maximum meat, El Guero Canelo's menu also lists a Sammy Dog: two in one bun, equally well-dressed.

An entire kitchen, apart from the hot dog cart, offers a wide choice of Mexican dishes, from huevos rancheros and breakfast burros to weekend menudo, the posole and tripe hangover remedy that is available with or without ox foot. Dress-your-own tacos, made with juicy, brightly-spiced carne asada, are priced deliciously low: $1.50 each.

El Guero Canelo is extremely casual but in no way sloppy. We felt as well-tended by the staff as in a linen-table dining room, but eating here is so much more fun. Mexican party music plays on the loud speaker, regularly interrupted by a scratchy electric voice calling out numbers to let people know their food is ready to be picked up.

8 out of 8 people found the review helpful. Was it helpful to you?

No Yes

Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Sonoran Hot Dog
Caramelo
Sammy Dog
Rate this place

Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The surfeit of condiments prohibits you from seeing that this is not an ordinary Sonoran hot dog. It is a Sammy dog: two in one bun. The bun is big and bready, so a double dose makes sense.
"The surfeit of condiments prohibits you from seeing that this is not an ordinary Sonoran hot dog. It is a Sammy dog: two in one bun. The bun is big and bready, so a double dose makes sense."
Michael Stern





The chef shows off a well-dressed Sonoran hot dog, ready to eat. Note the roasted guero pepper at the front right of the paper tray. The pepper, like a fair-complexioned jalapeno, is a Sonoran hot dog's traditional companion in Tucson.
"The chef shows off a well-dressed Sonoran hot dog, ready to eat. Note the roasted guero pepper at the front right of the paper tray. The pepper, like a fair-complexioned jalapeno, is a Sonoran hot dog's traditional companion in Tucson."
Michael Stern


It is not my habit to post pictures of half-eaten food, but tooth-excavation here provides a good cross-section view of a Sammy Dog and its condiments.
"It is not my habit to post pictures of half-eaten food, but tooth-excavation here provides a good cross-section view of a Sammy Dog and its condiments."
Michael Stern


El Guero Canelo's excellent Sonoran Dogs are something I crave from far away.  That's a Sammy Dog (with two wieners) in the front, a regular Sonoran dog in the back.
"El Guero Canelo's excellent Sonoran Dogs are something I crave from far away. That's a Sammy Dog (with two wieners) in the front, a regular Sonoran dog in the back. "
Cliff Strutz


The beverages here are not to be missed.  That's sweet horchata on the left, jamaica on the right.
"The beverages here are not to be missed. That's sweet horchata on the left, jamaica on the right."
Cliff Strutz


Once wrapped in bacon, the all-beef hot dogs cook in a trough that holds in all the fat that the bacon sheds, virtually deep-frying them. The result is a crisp-skinned wiener with an even crisper bacon skin.
"Once wrapped in bacon, the all-beef hot dogs cook in a trough that holds in all the fat that the bacon sheds, virtually deep-frying them. The result is a crisp-skinned wiener with an even crisper bacon skin."
Michael Stern


For dessert, the soft, spongy flan in a rich caramel sauce.
"For dessert, the soft, spongy flan in a rich caramel sauce."
Cliff Strutz


All Sonoran hot dogs are cooked in mobile or semi-mobile carts. This is true even in restaurants that have kitchens devoted to other menu items.
"All Sonoran hot dogs are cooked in mobile or semi-mobile carts. This is true even in restaurants that have kitchens devoted to other menu items."
Michael Stern


Caramelos come with carne asada or chicken, but otherwise plain. It's up to each customer to fetch condiments from a cart in the al fresco dining area.
"Caramelos come with carne asada or chicken, but otherwise plain. It's up to each customer to fetch condiments from a cart in the al fresco dining area."
Michael Stern


The impressive fixings bar allows you to add all kinds of sauces, salsas and vegetables to your tortas and tacos.
"The impressive fixings bar allows you to add all kinds of sauces, salsas and vegetables to your tortas and tacos."
Cliff Strutz


El Guero Canelo's no-wall dining area has a roof for shade and misters along the perimeter to moisten the air.
"El Guero Canelo's no-wall dining area has a roof for shade and misters along the perimeter to moisten the air."
Michael Stern


If you have time for only one Sonoran hot dog in a true-Tucson setting, El Guero Canelo is the place to go.
"If you have time for only one Sonoran hot dog in a true-Tucson setting, El Guero Canelo is the place to go."
Michael Stern


The sweet rice drink known as Horchata is what I like to drink with my Sonoran hot dog; but for those who prefer cola, El Guero Canelo serves the good stuff, imported from Mexico.
"The sweet rice drink known as Horchata is what I like to drink with my Sonoran hot dog; but for those who prefer cola, El Guero Canelo serves the good stuff, imported from Mexico."
Michael Stern



What is Roadfood?  |   Submit Content  |   Privacy Policy  |   Contact Roadfood.com   Copyright - Roadfood.com