Every July 4, Americans consume millions of hot dogs. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (yes, there is such an organization), on that day alone Americans will pig out on 155 million dogs.
But the real day to eat a hot dog is Tuesday, July 23. That’s when National Hot Dog Day is celebrated every year.
In North Central Phoenix, you will find several places that feature the dog prominently. In fact, at Nogales Hot Dogs, it’s all you’ll get.
“It’s a one-item menu: Sonoran Dog,” explains owner Pablo Perez. His version comes wrapped in bacon and served with pinto beans, onions, mayo and tomato. The all-meat (chicken, pork and beef) costs $3. This type of hot dog is eaten in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico he says, and adds, “It works!”
Apparently it works in Phoenix, too, because for the past 11 years he’s been selling his Sonoran hot dogs in the southwest parking lot at 20th Street and Indian School Road. He opens his cart around 7 p.m. and sets up a few tables and chairs, then serves his hot dogs until after midnight. On Friday and Saturday nights he will stay up until the last customer leaves.
Other condiments include cheese, guacamole, mushrooms and jalapeños. The buns are made at a local Mexican bakery and are hearty enough to handle all the toppings. Add some chips and a drink and you get a complete dinner for $5. Like them on Facebook at Nogales Hot Dogs No2.
Just west of Nogales Hot Dogs on 16th Street and Indian School Road is Luke’s of Chicago. When Cary Del Principe and his wife, Diana Lee, opened this location in 1989, they had an instant fan base from Chicago. The name comes from Cary’s father, whose nickname was Luke. The family opened up the original Luke’s on Harlem Avenue and Addison Street in 1968.
The only type of hot dog served at Luke’s is a Vienna all-beef dog, in seven varieties. They are steamed but upon request you can get them grilled. The dogs are served on a steamed poppy seed bun. It’s a ritual that Cary calls, “Just another quirk of Chicago.”
“Chicago customers were born and raised on Vienna hot dogs,” he says. “I can’t sell anything else and get away with it.”
The most popular dog on his menu is the Chicago Style dog ($4.85), which comes with mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickles, peppers and celery salt. Another customer favorite is the Double Hot Dog ($6.95) that packs two dogs on a bun. Every hot dog comes with fries but if you don’t want fries the dog alone will cost you just $4.
Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For details, visit www.LukesofChicago.com.
North of Bethany Home Road at 6219 N. 7th St. is The Great Dane Dog House. Walk inside and you’ll meet Tony “Dane” Rigoli, his wife Hilde, and Malena Romero, who has worked with them for nine years and is considered part of the family.
In 1986, Rigoli bought the property from the original owners who set up shop in 1978. Like Luke’s, Great Dane’s sell only pure Vienna hot dogs and also uses Vienna hot dog buns. “It’s a gourmet food, a good hot dog,” he says, and admits to loving hot dogs so much he even eats them for breakfast fried up with eggs.
The dogs come in three sizes, with the foot-long dog served on an egg bun. The bestselling dog is the Maxwell St. natural casing Polish sausage ($5). It comes with grilled onions, mustard, pickles, tomato and hot pepper. Customers also love the Polish Sausage and the Fire Dog, which Rigoli says is a mild spicy. Any of the dogs can be steamed or grilled, based on customer preference.
The Coney Islander Dog has a hot meat sauce and sells for $5.65. On the kids menu is a dog for 12 and younger that sells for just $3 and includes fries and a soda. Each day Great Dane’s offers a $5 Lunch Special that includes French fries or potato chips and a drink. Check the board to see the special.
“We take pride in what we cook,” Rigoli says and adds, “I won’t give nobody something I won’t eat myself!”
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Reach them at 602-265-2817.
To try some really unique flavor combinations, check out Short Leash Hot Dogs. Brad Moore and his wife, Kat, park their food truck for lunch in front of Urban Cookies on 7th Street and Highland Avenue every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to about 1:30 p.m., and every Friday night beginning around 6 p.m. in their “sit and stay” lot behind Stinkweed’s and Halo Precision Piercing at 10 W. Camelback Road.
Short Leash has six different dogs on the menu; regular, spicy beef, beef, Bratwurst, chicken and veggie. They are all natural, nitrate free, preservative free, gluten free and no MSG. “Our menu is fun and a bit quirky, but everything we do and every flavor we put on hot dogs is well planned,” Brad says. He encourages the first-time customer to experiment.
Brad couldn’t stand the traditional hot dog buns so he uses naan instead of a tradition bun. “Hot dog buns are structurally terrible,” he points out. “When loaded up with toppings you take one bite and everything falls out the bottom. The naan is soft and has a buttery texture and most importantly holds up well from start to finish.”
Try Kat’s award-winning 7th Inning Stretch Dog, which comes with peanut butter, cracker jacks, smoked Gouda, bacon and BBQ sauce. If that sounds a little too sweet, check out the Oliver, served with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a dollop of Thousand Island dressing. The Aiko is a very popular dog. It’s covered in mango chutney, diced jalapenos, red onions, fresh cilantro and mayo.
The mobile dining car also offers throw-back bottled sodas in fun and nostalgic flavors, along with familiar soda brands and varieties.
The Moores plan to open a restaurant later this month in downtown Phoenix near Roosevelt and First streets. Until then you can study the menu at www.shortleashhotdogs.com.