When it comes to hot dogs, what toppings do you usually think of? A hearty helping of chili and cheese? The ballpark staples of ketchup, mustard, and relish? The pickle, tomato, and celery salt that differentiate a Chicago dog from the rest? Although there are many different ways to dress a dog, there is none quite as regionally different as the Sonoran hot dog of southern Arizona.
Most often grilled on large outdoor grates, these dogs are wrapped in a layer of bacon that tends to melt into the hot dog, leaving a smoky flavor. Sonoran hot dogs also are differentiated by their bread—dense bakery-style rolls slit most (but not all) of the way down the length of the bun to form a pocket. The bun is important because it keeps the mounds of toppings shored in. Among these toppings are chopped tomatoes, pinto beans, onions, cheese, and hot peppers. Top all of that off with a few squirts of condiments designed to replicate the Mexican flag (ketchup, mayonnaise, and either tomatillo or jalapeño salsa), and you have one stunning culinary experience that will leave you wanting more.
Although BK’s is best known for hot dogs, the menu includes tacos, tortas, burros, and caramelos. Mesquite-grilled carne asada, recommended to us by Arizona friends Jacque and Janice, is great on a torta (Mexican-style sandwich). The tender grilled meat and shredded lettuce toppled from the toasty roll, leaving much debris to clean up with a fork at the meal’s end. Other available fillings for tortas, tacos, and burros include pastor (seasoned pork), borrego (lamb), and, for those with a real sense of culinary adventure, cabeza (cow’s head).
BK’s landmark is the huge hot dog cart in the front parking lot: a fancy, custom-made cooking center, as opposed to the ramshackle carts found in every other empty corner lot around the city. The tantalizing scent of grilled dogs insinuates itself into your car even before switching off the ignition. All hot dogs are prepared outside, then taken inside the restaurant for serving.
BK’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner starting at 9 a.m. each day, so get ready to be converted to the “Estilo Sorona” (Sonoran style) of Tucson. (Note: the original store is located at 5118 South 12th Avenue)