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a u s t
i n c h r o n
i c
l e
. c om
JULY 25, 2014
Top Dogs
T-Loc’s sonora HoT Dogs bring
Mexico To aLLanDaLe
We love hot dogs in America. Ever since they arrived on these
shores from Vienna in the mid-19th century, frankfurters (or franks,
wieners, weenies, tube steaks, whatever you call them) have been
associated with all things America: baseball, amusement parks,
backyard cookouts. Hell, we even observe the 4th of July with
Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island, and it’s
broadcast on ESPN like it’s a real sport.
Just as there are myriad names for hot dogs depending on geogra-
phy, we like to cook and serve them according to regional custom.
Some boil their franks, others grill them. In Chicago, they “drag ’em
through the garden,” and here in Texas we like to drown them in
chili. The hot dog is eminently adaptable. As such, in terms of cultur-
al and regional immediacy, the Sonoran hot dog is arguably the
exemplar of fusion food.
Long a popular street food in the northwestern Mexican state of
Sonora and nearby Tucson, Ariz., the hot dog
estilo Sonora
wrapped in bacon and grilled on a flat top before being snuggled into
a pillowy bolillo-type roll and topped with pinto beans, diced toma-
toes and onions, mustard, a squiggle of mayonnaise, and served
with a grilled
jalapeño pepper on the side.
Hard to believe, but it wasn’t until April of this year before there
were legit Sonoran hot dogs available in Austin. Thanks to Michael
Kaiser and Zulma Nantaren, who arrived in Austin a year ago (give or
take), we’ve now got an authentic, faithfully replicated version of this
Southwestern specialty in the tiny food trailer court on Burnet Road.
While Austinites get their cars detailed at Mister Car Wash, they can
enjoy a Sonoran dog
con todo
($5; upgrade to a kosher Hebrew
National frank or veggie dog for a buck) at T-Loc’s Sonora Hot Dogs
(the “T-Loc” stands for “Tucson
Locals”). Those rolls are FedExed
in from Arizona daily, as are the
fat-forward, super-thin, nearly
translucent Arizona-style tortillas
in the deceptively filling carne
asada burritos.
Kaiser, a graduate of Le
Cordon Bleu who once worked at
Thomas Keller’s Per Se, carefully
explains the ritual involved in eat-
ing the burrito before handing it
over in its paper boat: between
bites, add a bit of salt, a squeeze
of lime, and a dash of green or
red salsa. He’ll gladly tell anyone
who asks the story of how he
and Nantaren (“the boss,” as
Kaiser refers to his fiancée)
chose Austin as the launch pad
for their dream business.
Meanwhile, Nantaren, a native of Honduras, makes sure that the
tall glasses of her homemade aguas frescas – traditional flavors
like pineapple, mango, strawberry lemonade, and tamarind rotate
every week – stay full. Together they offer the purest form of owner-
operator hospitality: boundless energy and passion alongside
heartfelt lagniappe and a small-town community feel. It’s the
American dream writ large on a couple of variations on meat
swathed in bread.
It’s tempting to reference our country’s recent troubles along its
southern border in a conversation about Sonoran hot dogs, but that
would be an overreach. But here are the facts: Americans like hot
dogs. Austinites like fusion food, if the ongoing popularity of regional
interpretations of ramen, bánh mì, and kimchi are any indication.
T-Loc’s Sonora Hot Dogs offers the perfect storm of both, and the
Austin food truck scene is better for it.
Melanie Haupt
rae wilson
titaya’ s
b y V i r g i n i a b . w o o d
After 21 years at
Austin Chronicle
, 17 of
those years as Food Editor, I am changing jobs.
Austin’s food and restaurant scene has evolved
dramatically during my tenure and covering that
culinary emergence and growth in ethnic diver-
sity has been the best job I could imagine. I’m
proud of our Food section and grateful to all
the contributing writers who shared my vision
over the years and helped me realize it. I’ll con-
tinue to write about food for this paper as a
staff writer, providing my institutional memory
of the local scene as a resource and covering
news in the city’s first restaurant news column.
I’ll review restaurants on occasion, attend
some food events, and contribute features to
both our weekly print and daily online editions.
I’m also hoping to devote time to two long-lan-
guished book projects. I’m turning over the
reins of the Food section to my young col-
Brandon Watson
, a reporter with an
engaging writing style, a keen interest in food,
and plenty of social media savvy. Brandon will
handle all aspects of the job: fielding story
pitches and event invitations, making restau-
rant-review and event-coverage assignments for
both the print and daily online editions, writing
and editing copy, reviewing restaurants, and
taking responsibility for our online presence
and social media interaction. Brandon can be
reached at both
. This is a fast-
paced and demanding job in the Internet age,
and I wish Brandon all the best with it. I
encourage everyone to get to know Brandon
and enjoy his voice and direction as the Food
section moves into another exciting era in
our city’s continued culinary evolution.
Speaking of changes,
(2043 S.
Lamar) chef/owner
James Holmes
says that
young chef
Max Petty
has left the restaurant
and the position has been filled by New
Orleans native
Chris Ball
. Look for Ball and
his team to return to the more rustic, farm-to-
table cooking style that was Olivia’s hallmark
in its early days. Holmes also said Olivia is
adding a full bar in the fall with a craft cock-
tail program. And perhaps his biggest news
was that he and wife Christina welcomed
Layla Holmes
(7 pounds, 7 ounces) into
their family July 8. Can’t help but wonder if
she’ll eventually have a restaurant named
after her like her older sisters Olivia and Lucy.
Terra Madre
is a biannual conference of
slow food
communities in Turin, Italy,
that offers seminars, taste workshops, and
classes addressing issues facing global food
systems. It happens concurrently with
Salone del Gusto
, the world’s largest food
and wine fair. Chef
Josh Jones
Salt &
Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria
(1912 E.
Seventh) has been chosen as a delegate to
represent the United States in Turin. He
needs help funding his trip to Italy and would
like to stay a few extra days in order to take
advantage of as many learning opportunities
as possible. If you’d like to help fund Josh’s
trip and reap the culinary rewards of his
learning experience, go to
and search “send Josh Jones to Italy.”
Meal Times
July 24-July 29
GO Texan ReSTauRanT ROund-uP
Restaurants across Texas feature
special menu items to raise dona-
tions for local food banks. See more
Through July 27. 512/475-
naTiOnaL TequiLa day
Happy hour
with free tequila tastings and food
Thu., July 24, 4-10pm.
508 Tequila Bar, 508 E. Eighth,
SuMMeR SeafOOd dinneR
course menu featuring lobster, clams,
and more.
Thu., July 24, 7pm. Noble
Sandwich Co., 4805 Burnet Rd. $70.
For more food and drink events,
BLaCk and WHiTe PaRTy
Hollywood costume contest and
swing from Snorky’s Rhythm Kings.
Cover includes an infused cocktail.
Fri., July 25, 8:30pm-2am. Russian
House, 307 E. Fifth, 512/428-
5442. $10.
SieRRa nevada BeeR CaMP
Craft beer giant offers pours
of rare collaborative brews.
Sat., July 26, noon-6pm. Banger’s
Sausage House & Beer Garden,
79 Rainey, 512/386-1656.
Free event, $6 pours.
TRaiLeR fOOd TueSdayS
feast returns to Long Center terrace.
Tuesdays. Long Center for the
Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside,
JOSePHine HOuSe GueST CHef
Series welcomes Bufalina
chef and owner Steven Dilley.
July 29, 6-10pm. Josephine House,
1601 Waterston, 512/477-5584. $50,
additional $30 for wine pairings.
andiaMO MOnTHLy Wine dinneR
Four-course Italian feast with pairings.
Tue., July 29, 7pm. Andiamo Ristorante,
2521 Rutland, 512/719-3377. $50.
PeRuvian indePendenCe
day CeLeBRaTiOn
while enjoying live
Andean and Criole music and
folkloric dance.
Sat., July 26,
6-11pm. La Chaparrita,
6001 Airport, Highland Mall,
faRM TO TaBLe TexaS
Sunday funday
sourced summer menu, local
beer, and specialty cocktails.
Austinites receive 10% discount.
Sun., July 27, 12-4pm. Hyatt
Regency Austin, 208 Barton
Springs Rd., 512/477-1234.
T-Loc’s Sonora
Hot Dogs
5715 burnet rd.
tue.-sat., 11am-10pm
p h o t o s b y j o h n a n d e r s o n