Dallas needs more regional hot dog representation. Five years later, we’re still mourning the loss of Luscher’s Red Hots, which showed that Deep Ellum does not deserve perfect Chicago-style dogs. Any time someone in the area serves a Sonoran hot dog as a one-night-only menu special, I’m attracted to it the way that Elon Musk is attracted to business ideas that sound like they came from a 6-year-old.
Alas. Until there are Chicago- and Sonora-style hot dog trucks on every corner, we’re going to have to console ourselves the best way we can: by eating a cool regional dog dish we do get to enjoy.
We’re going to have to eat a whole lot of Guatemalan-style hot dogs.
They’re called shucos. Shuco is slang for dirty (it’s related to the word “sucio”), but this doesn’t mean dirty in the sense of the “dirty water” used in New York City push carts. It also doesn’t mean that the food itself is dirty. It just means there’s lots of stuff on top.
What stuff, exactly, can vary. There’s usually a cabbage slaw and a layer of guacamole. There’s often a whole second kind of sausage. Mayo is common, even though it doubles up on the guacamole’s creaminess. Shucos aren’t spicy, tangy, or peppery. (Guatemalan food in general is not as spicy as some of its neighboring cuisines.)
Instead, shucos are kind of comforting in a different way, with the fatty richness of the guacamole and mayo, and just a bit of dressed cabbage for tang. Honestly, they’d be a huge hit in the Midwest. There should be shuco spots all across Ohio and Wisconsin.
In Dallas, we’ve got two. Guatemala-based chain San Martín Bakery serves its native country’s food mostly at breakfast and brunchtime at its Uptown location, sticking to global sandwiches and soups at lunch and dinner. But shuco is a happy all-day exception to the rule. Up near the Galleria, Isabel’s Guatemalan Restaurant and Bakery has its own version.
Naturally, I tried both, for research. San Martín’s frank is practically buried in guacamole and slaw, and this is a compliment, not a complaint. If somebody ever tells you to eat a healthy, balanced meal, but what you really want is a hot dog, this is your loophole. It comes with plantain chips on the side, too.
If somebody ever tells you to eat a balanced meal, but what you really want is a hot dog, this is your loophole.
Ultimately I prefer the double-barreled sausage situation at Isabel’s, although the tradeoff is that you get less guacamole and fewer condiments. With the crisp, toasted loaf of bread—a clear cut above the standard hot dog bun—this is more like a petite but proper sandwich.
One more tip: shucos are typically listed as appetizers on menus at sit-down restaurants, and this isn’t a mistake. At Isabel’s, for example, my table split the dog, then tried some tamales and a bowl of pepian. (That’s why the shuco is off to the side in the picture at the top of this article.) At San Martín, my friends and I shared a procession of sandwiches.
If you want one or two of your own, though, we won’t judge. The first rule of Lunch Club is there’s no overordering in Lunch Club.