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Southside Sonoran dog stand wins prestigious award

Posted at 11:59 AM, Jan 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-18 20:48:03-05


Sonoran Hot Dogs are a specialty at Tucson’s El Guero Canelo. Now the restaurant is really on a roll in the culinary world.

The prestigious James Beard Awards have named El Guero Canelo as one of five American Classics for 2018. 

Owner Daniel Contreras went from a little cart serving bacon-wrapped hot dogs with Mexican toppings to four restaurants.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Contreras: “You made it into the gourmet scene what do you think of that?”  

Contreras: “Yes.  All day I've been thinking about the hot dog buns. We make our hot dog buns in Mexico. And that's part of the biggest thing about the Sonoran style, the bun.  It makes a big difference."

Contreras says he’s happy he’s been able to provide a good living for about 140 employees.

James Beard was an influential chef and food critic. Winners will collect their awards at a ceremony in Chicago in May. 

The restaurant was one of five in the nation to win the honor. Editors had this to say about the Sonoran dog hot spot:

The Sonoran hot dog evinces the flow of culinary and cultural influences from the U.S. to Mexico and back. Decades ago, elaborately dressed hot dogs began to appear as novelty imports on the streets of Hermosillo, the Sonoran capital. Today, Tucson is the American epicenter, and Daniel Contreras is the leading hotdoguero. A Sonoran native, Contreras was 33 in 1993 when he opened El Guero Canelo. The original stand is now a destination restaurant, outfitted with picnic tables and serviced by a walk-up order window. Fans converge for bacon-wrapped franks, stuffed into stubby bollilos, smothered with beans, onions, mustard, jalapeño sauce, and a squiggle of mayonnaise. Contreras operates three branches in Tucson, one in Phoenix, and a bakery to supply the split-top buns.

Sun Wah of Chicago, Boston's Galleria Umberto, Los Hernandez of Union Gap, Wash. and Dong Fuong Bakery of New Orleans were the other winners.

El Guero Canelo will receive the award at the James Beard Awards Gala at Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 7.  

For more information on El Guero Canelo, click here.