While having a crown replaced by a great dentist in Tucson, I asked the dental assistant for restaurant recommendations. She informed me that anyone passing through the Tucson area should try a Sonoran hot dog. She said that they were bacon-wrapped dogs with guacamole, and I was sold. After some research, we chose Yamis HotDogs, which was highly lauded online as authentic and conveniently located near a wine and craft beer establishment.
We followed our iPhone directions to an unfamiliar neighborhood, north west of downtown Tucson, and found an empty, perhaps long-empty, gravel lot. A broader phone search found a different address only a few miles away, so we headed there. We drove right past the 'pin' on the iPhone screen, confused again, and pulled over. "It’s possible," I said, "that I saw a hot dog cart back there, maybe it is a cart.” Yelp had indicated that there were tables, but maybe the gravel lot was the former brick-and-mortar incarnation. We went back and found out that Yamis (this seems to be the business name, although it is treated more grammatically as “Yami’s” in some of the literature) is actually an elevated hot dog cart, on an unused portion of a car wash parking lot, connected to a tent that provides seating, lighting and coolers full of drinks.
Our Spanish is poor, but fortunately there is only one item on the menu and we settled on hot dogs with “everything". The dogs at Yamis don't come out of dirty water, they are heated on the cart griddle. Then each dog is wrapped in grilled bacon, and quickly fried, sealing on the bacon wrapper. Next a spoon of cooked onion stuff is added, and a spoon of standard chili-dog-consistency chile con carne. Then some fresh onion and tomato and the sauces. After watching a few get made, I asked the proprietor about the three sauces that went on each dog. Full disclosure, other customers helped with the translation. Each dog gets mayo, mustard, and guacamole sauce. A final key difference from a standard cart hotdog is the long, sturdy, bakery-quality bun, freshly buttered and fried to perfection on the fatty griddle, just in time for filling.
Each order also comes with a medium hot pepper of some sort, also wrapped and fried in bacon, and stuffed with some yummy unidentified meat and dairy matter for no additional charge.
Yamis gets 5 out of 5 stars for food. The dog itself compares favorably to Crif Dogs' bacon-wrapped offerings in New York and any hot dog anywhere. The bun is a particular treat.
Service: 5 out of 5, universal language of meat spoken.
Price: Dirt cheap, insane value.
Atmosphere: In some places, a car wash parking lot tent might not meet restaurant zoning requirements, but you know what? Just shut up and eat your dog.
Kathryn Tully and Shane Sesta are a married couple, one American and one Brit, who are spending a year traveling across America and writing about their discoveries. Sonny is their rescue cat and fried chicken aficionado.