May 20, 2009

Flagstaff's Best Hot Dogs

Hot Diggity Dogs
By Angele Sionna

It’s hot dog season! While it may more commonly be referred to as summer, the beautiful weather that is upon is means it’s time for treating ourselves to those tasty franks that satisfy without breaking the bank. If you don’t have time to grill up a dog on any given work lunch hour, then check out the goods at Flagstaff’s top hot dog stops.

Primo’s Hot Dogs
113 S San Francisco St

Primo’s Hot Dogs, just south of the tracks downtown. Boasting Chicago-style dogs, Primo’s is a true hole in the wall joint. The door boasts seating for 1,000, four at a time, i.e. they have four seats lining the wall on the right. That’s it.
Here their standard dog is known as the Easy Dog. The bright green relish contrasted nicely with the crispy, diced white onion... with a little vivid red and yellow of the ketchup and mustard ever so slightly poking thru. The ingredients were fresh. The dog itself was plump, juicy, and flavorful. The perfect proportion of toppings, bun, and dog. And vegetarians take note, Primo’s doesn’t want you to miss out on its goodness. They serve veggie dogs with any toppings for about the same price. In all, Primo’s has 14 types of hot dogs and sausages plus meat lover’s sandwiches and nachos.

Mountain Top Dogs
113 E. Birch

Mountain Top Dogs is a true hot dog stand at the corner of Birch and San Francisco. Only open when the weather’s good and run by the owner, Mountain Top Dogs is in a great location for tourists and business folks for lunch. At Mountain Top Dogs, the hot dogs are flame grilled right in front of you and it’s the only place on this list where you add your own toppings.
The dog was a little less flavorful and not as thick as the ones at Primo’s, but the smoky flavor that comes from the grilling makes up for it. The condiments were standard, just like the ones you’d have at a back yard cookout at home. But you can taste the personal touch and care of the owner in every bite.
Mountain Top Dog has a handful of dog and sausage choices ranging a standard hot dog up to their claim to fame: a hand-wrapped and grilled bacon quarter pound dog.

Route 66 Dog Haus
1302 E. Route 66

The Route 66 Dog Haus is a Flagstaff classic. Right on Route 66 with cars whizzing by their can’t-miss-it red A-frame building, you can walk up and place your order or drive thru. And I do mean drive thru - cars pull up to the window in the center of the building. A novelty that catches kids eyes. Seating is limited to a few cement tables with umbrellas. Their menu includes sides like fries and is much more expansive than the other hot dog joints.
The Dog Haus dog itself was overloaded with ingredients and oozing as I opened the wrapper. The bun was super-soaked and soggy. It did not have the beauty of the Primo’s dog or the flame-broiled smell of Mountain Top but when I took a bite I was pleasantly surprised. There was too much of the overly sweet onions and relish though, ironically making this drive-thru joint the only place where the dog isn’t driver friendly.

Hot Dog Express
1566 S Riordan Ranch St

Newcomer to the hot dog scene is Hot Dog Express. They’re located in the little red and yellow shack surrounded by cheery picnic tables and umbrellas in the west end of the Bookman’s parking lot on the southwest side of town.
Here the choices are walk up or drive up. You can smell the hot dogs cooking on the grill as you do either. That’s such a great smell! Hot Dog Express offers up everything from standard dogs to more fanciful options like the gianormous Cujo dog or the spicy Jalapeño Express hot dog. The dogs comes served in a fresh and flavorful bright yellow bun and loaded with a fair amount of toppings. They also have combos with a soda and chips to make the most of your lunch money. And if you want a little picnicy feel to lunch, consider adding a side of their cilantro slaw or potato salad. For the kid inside, top it off with one of their slushies for dessert.

(Note: This article was origninally published in Flagstaff Live! - written by me too!)

May 5, 2009

Taco Tour of Flagstaff

Make a run for the border: A taco tour of Flagstaff
By Angele Sionna

Flagstaff is filled with little nook and crannies that are in turned filled with little Mexican dives. Some of these joints are definitely worth stopping in for a satisfying bite with some south of the border flavor. So, join me on a taco tour of Flagstaff’s best, in honor of Cinco De Mayo.

Starting off on the Southwest side of town, working our way North and East… we begin our adventure at …Burritos Fiesta (1530 S Riordan Ranch St # 405C, next door to Bookmans). This place is always packed and has a lot of people sitting at their tables with satisfied grins on their faces. The tacos here are served on corn or flour tortillas and much larger than your average taco dive’s taco. And they serve up a small side of chips on your plate at no extra charge. Taco choices include: shredded beef, steak, fish, shrimp and chicken ranging from $2.50-$3.75 per taco.

Basically across the street, we move into a much smaller little taco joint… Los Altenos Restaurant (1481 S Milton, behind Strombolli’s). Los Altenos is open every day from 8a-9p serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Their taco list is pretty expansive from your standard tacos de pollo (yum) to tacos de tripas – which is intestine with cilanto and onions in a corn tortilla (eew, unless that’s your thing). They also have several types of pork and beef choices, all at $1.99 each.

Moving up Milton, we find ourselves at… Ay Caray! Mexican Grill (1300 S Milton Rd, next to Picazzos) Ay Caray! upgrades their dive status by serving you at your table with fresh, extremely tasty homemade chips and salsa. I really love their chicken taco here. The meat is all white meat and marinated – mmm. They’ve got nine other taco choices too… all are served with salsa or guacamole included for $2.50 each (fish tacos cost $3.25). If you get their to-go menu, there’s a little coupon on the front for 15% off for NAU students or a free ice cream cone for the kids. Nice bonus.

As we head towards downtown on our taco tour, we stop next at… Tacos Locos (2 S. Beaver St. Suite 170 on the Phoenix Ave. side of the building). This taco shop is a little more, okay a lot more, high tech with free wireless internet. They have a unique menu and style- much more “Californian” than others. Their tacos start at $2.29 for a potato taco and go up to $3.49 for a grilled ahi taco. They’ve even got a weird one called a California Taco that has carne asada, guacamole, lettuce and, yes, french fries. It’s pretty good, actually. Extra bonus: they play cool music and serve beer and margaritas. Menu online at: tacoslocos.com

These next two stops are on the East side, are accessible without leaving the comfort of your car and have lots more than just tacos… Poliberto’s Taco Shop (221 E Cedar Ave.). This quickie stop seems to always have a line, which is what drew me in the first time. They’ve got beef or chicken tacos for $1.99 each or 3 rolled tacos with guac or sour crème for the same price. Fish tacos move up to $2.10 each and specialty ones are $2.45 each. Poliberto’s also has combos that include a drink.

And last but in no way least, our final stop is at… Tacos Los Altos De Jalisco (3650 E. Route 66, off of Fanning Dr.). This joint has drive-thru or sit down options. Los Altos serves hard shelled beef or chicken tacos for $2 each or specialty tacos for $2.25-$2.75. You can also get rolled tacos for 99 cents a pop and mini tacos starting at $1.25. They also have lots of combos, including for breakfast.

If you wanna upgrade…
•To a full-service restaurant: Check out the ever-popular “local’s secret” La Fonda. It’s been in business in Flag since 1958 and has good tacos and everything else. The original La Fonda is at 1900 N. Second St in the Sunnyside neighborhood.
•To a fancy pants taco: I love the pecan-encrusted fish tacos at Josephine’s Modern American Bistro. They’re not always on the menu, but when they are – yum! Great spring and summer lunch choice on their fantastic patio! Josephine’s is at 503 N. Humphrey's Street, just north of downtown.

Note: THis article was firt published in Flagstaff Live! - written by me too!

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