Not technically a hot dog—more like a delicious cross between Mexican torta sandwich and hot dog.
Past Weeks' Dogs
I might be pushing the definition of "hot dog" with this one, but this monster of a sandwich was just too good to ignore.
On a recent trip to Brooklyn I stopped at the Puebla Mini Mart (aka "Don Pepe's") in Sunset Park for a bite before an all-day hot dog excursion. The colorful bodega with a full-service grill and tables in the back had a wild menu with more varieties of tortas than you ever thought possible. But I did a double-take when I saw some loaded with what resembled hot dogs.
Salchicha literally means "sausage" in Spanish but for Mexican sandwich menu purposes, it seems to imply a frankfurter, while "chorizo" will put you into sausage territory.
The standard Torta De Salchicha is simply a grilled and split dog or two topped with avocado, jalapenos, tomato, onion, and Mexican cheese. But since it was breakfast time, I had to go for the "Espanola Doble" which added ham, bacon, and a fried egg. It was unbelievable, and somehow not the heavy mess you might expect after hearing that list of ingredients.
I've never seen a Mexican torta like the ones at Puebla Mini Mart. They're grilled a la plancha similar to a Cuban or Puerto Rican sandwich but not as flat, and served on Mexican bread, filled with a well-balanced mix of fresh ingredients. Hot and crispy, the torta is wrapped in smartly folded parchment to help hold it all together. It was almost a shame we had six or seven more stops planned for the day—I could have just stayed here drinking Tecate and going through the entire menu.
You can't go wrong with the classics here: Torta Milanesa (breaded chicken), Bistec Encebollado (steak, onions, and cheese) or some delicious tacos. But some of the special combinations—there's at least 30 different sandwiches on the menu, and more posted on hand-written signs—are mind-blowing.
Breaded chicken topped with chorizo, grilled hot dog, bacon, and two kinds of cheese, or the house special with roast pork, stewed chicken, ham and bacon. Tortas De Pescado piled high with breaded fish? Or a Hawaiian with three kinds of pork and pineapple? Why not?
Sunset Park is a food lover's dream. Walking around the neighborhood, brightly-lit tropical menus offering 75 variations of everything seems to be the norm.
Mexican pizzas done Hawaiian-style or topped with Buffalo chicken, noodle shacks, plates of tripe and tongue swimming in chili oil. There's an incredible collision of Latin American, Asian, and American foods happening in these neighborhoods (which also happens on a smaller scale in parts of Philadelphia). You could spend a month eating your way through Sunset Park and still miss something.
Puebla Mini Mart
3908 5th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11232 (map) Open daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.