Mexican-style Hot Dog al Julio Valdez (Salinas)
When I spotted the tamale cart of Julio Valdez on the corner of Ivy and E. Market in Salinas, I knew there was a good reason I'd forgotten to eat lunch on Thursday. Sr. Valdez was just getting set up a little before 4pm. That's as good a time as any to enjoy one of his Mexican-style hot dogs.
Wrapped with a strip of bacon and grilled, the beef franks are kept hot in a warmer. When I nodded "yes" when asked if I wanted everything, Sr. Valdez squirted the soft steamy bun with mayonnaise and yellow mustard, then nestled the hot dog into place. I kept saying "sí" as he marched down the condiment line-up: pickle relish, chopped tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and black peppery onions braised in butter and mustard. I passed on the chopped pickled jalapeños and the raw onion. Then a squirt of crema and a bit more mustard on top. I asked for grated cotija, and he offered me the option of orange-colored cheezwhiz as well. He charged me $2.60 for this pile of food and cautioned, "watch out for drips", eyeing my black sweater.
This time I'd asked for my dog packed "to go". The styro carton provides the support and catch basin for all the toppings, making this overflowing dog much easier to eat. It was utterly delicious. And, I managed to plop but one splash of crema on my clothes.
Image of hot dog to go -
Last year's post on Julio Valdez -
When a frost was forecast last night, I took the opportunity to stop by Julio Valdez's hot dog and tamale cart to see if he was making champurrado yet. Lucky for me he saw the same weather report and had cranked some out. Warming in a stick-to-your-ribs way and a big cup for $2.50. I also asked if he ever made Mexican style hot chocolate, and he said, "of course, but not yet." Something else to look forward to.
Julio Valdez's cart -
I never knew the name for these was "Mexican hot dogs." When I was a teenager living in San Diego we would cross the border to go bar hopping in Tijuana and these carts were everywhere. "Exquisitos" was painted on the front of all the carts, so I have called them Exquisitos for 20 years. No one but my TJ bar-hopping compadres ever knew what I was talking about. One thing is certain--Mexican hot dogs, or Exquisitos--sure hit the spot after a night of disco dancing in Tijuana.
When we were in high school and would eat them in Tijuana, we lovingly referred to the bacon-wrapped links as "death dogs." They are one of my favorite food items to this day. I usually get them in my neighborhood, Golden Hill (San Diego), on the northeast corner of 25th and C. It's an auto-repair shop by day with a Mexidog stand at night. Mmmmmm.
Having retasted the champurrado from the Jaquez stand on Sunday night, tonight I stopped here agin to try Valdez's version. It is a bit thinner than the other, but I find it more satisfying. It's not as overt with the chocolate, which lets more of the spicing and other notes come through and linger on the palate.