The beloved Tucson dog has a following.
Like Chicago and New York, Tucson has its own beloved style of hot dog.
The Sonoran hot dog originates from Hermosillo, Mexico and features a slightly sweet bun, bacon-wrapped wiener, pinto beans, onions, tomato, salsa verde, mustard, and mayonnaise.
Deviants may include other toppings such as sliced mushrooms, grated cheese, or crushed potato chips, but Tucsonans tend to prefer the classic with a toasty bun.
Some connoisseurs claim a special finesse is required for toasting the bun, while others claim the ratio of ingredients is what make or break a dog. While we can’t say which is the most important, here’s a list of joints that deliver the whole package.
Aqui Con El Nene
4415 N. Flowing Wells Rd. • 65 W. Valencia Rd.
This northwest classic serves their Sonoran dogs chipilón-style with cheese melted onto the bread. While you’re there, don’t miss out on the Taco Yaqui, which features two tortillas with a roasted green chile stuffed with carne asada, mushrooms, and melty cheese.
For more information, visit aquiconelnene.com.
5118 S. 12th Ave. • 2680 N. First Ave.
One of the two Sonoran dog legends in town, BK rocks the mesquite grill with other meats as well. The salsa bar’s guacamole with cottage cheese is a point of heated debate, so give it a try to draw your own conclusion.
For more information, visit bktacos.com.
El Güero Canelo
5201 S. 12th Ave. • 2480 N. Oracle Rd. • 5802 E. 22nd St.
The other half of the two rival Sonoran dog legends in Tucson, El Güero Canelo has three local locations. It is the James Beard Foundation 2018 “America’s Classics” award winner for good reason. Order the Sammy Dog for two franks in one bun. If you’re in Phoenix and need your Sonoran fix, check out their location at 5131 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85035.
For more information, visit elguerocanelo.com.
1526 N. Alvernon Way
Even though there are various El Sinaloense trucks around town, the location at 1526 N. Alvernon Way has the magic touch that created the most detailed following. We haven’t pinpointed why yet but can confirm it’s a beautifully balanced dog.
For more information, visit El Sinaloense’s page on Yelp.
El Perro Loco
S. Country Club Rd. & E. 36th St. • W. Valencia Rd. & S. Cardinal Ave. • 1285 W. Ajo Way
The Super Chipilones feature buns toasted with an abundance of garlic powder for a more savory bite.
Keep up with El Perro Loco Hot Dogs on Facebook.
La Carreta del Rorro
4075 W. Ina Rd.
A key difference is the mayo distribution — La Carreta spreads the mayo over the tomatoes rather than the common drizzle. The accompanying guero chile has what seems to be Tajín sprinkled on, which provides a welcome lime acidity to contrast the loaded dog.
For a minor but impactful addition, pay $0.50 for chorizo on top. The crumbly, salty bits on top provide meaty savoriness in those bites where you normally get bun but no hot dog.
Keep up with La Carreta del Rorro on Facebook.
3752 E. Grant Rd. •5224 E Pima St
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While the candy and piñata shop isn’t open anymore, the food truck still comes out weekend nights in the same spot. Come for the buns toasted with cheese melted inside.
For more information, visit the Karamelo King page on Instagram.
Ruiz Hot Dogs
1140 S. Sixth Ave.
The fluffy buns toasted with butter keep customers coming back. Shaded seating is available both next to the truck and within it.
For more information, visit the Ruiz Hot Dogs page on Yelp.
Where is your favorite Sonoran hot dog from in town? Let us know in the comments.
For something on the sweeter side, check out our article on the Best Raspado Spots in Tucson.
[This article was originally written on December 2, 2018, and was most recently updated on July 21, 2021.]