Now, as baseball season begins, it only seems appropriate to keep hot dogs, America’s classic stadium meal, front and center. This got me thinking: where, besides at a game, can I get a decent hot dog around here?
As I searched, my cravings grew. I don’t need a house-ground gourmet sausage. I don’t want anything fancy. I just want quality meat on quality bread with interesting — but not too off-the-wall — toppings. Yellow mustard a necessity.
Enter Los Shucos, the new spot for Latin-style hot dogs in the Mission, inspired by the flavors of Guatemala.
They have quality meats: bacon-wrapped all-beef hot dogs, and pork and beef Spanish-style chorizo, both sourced locally.
They have quality bread: homemade buns, baked daily. They have lots of interesting toppings, a list that most importantly includes yellow mustard. (I can’t explain my yellow mustard thing; it’s a hereditary obsession.)
And they’re not too fancy. A street-food atmosphere pervades the snug, cheery interior. A few brightly colored wooden benches allow minimal indoor seating, with stacks of milk crates to be utilized as seats or tables.
Grab a coffee and chit-chat with the friendly staff if you can. Otherwise, the hot dogs easily transport elsewhere — Dolores Park, perhaps? — if the benches are full.
Just don’t forget napkins. These Shucos (which roughly translates to “dirty dogs”) are overflowing with toppings. Each one starts with a hefty spread of avocado along the length of the toasted bun, applied like a good paint job in an even layer from corner to corner. Each is finished with a drizzle of Mayo Maya, similar to mayonnaise but lighter.
In between those two layers is where it gets interesting. I fell hard for El de la Foto, a bacon-wrapped frank topped with heaps of cabbage. What makes it special is the deep and complex chimichurri-style sauce, called salsa chapina, that douses the signature bread and is brought here directly from Guatemala. Garlic, parsley and a subtle citrus kick make a fresh, herbaceous counterpoint to the savory beef and bacon.
El Huevon, another of my favorites, tops slices of delicious, dense chorizo with mounds of buttery eggs, flawlessly scrambled. My only quibble was that I took a few bites without a piece of chorizo to be found, and it’s needed to add snappy texture to the otherwise all-soft components.
Also, be warned that this is a fairly mild chorizo, so if you want heat, keep your eyes peeled for a bottle of Guatemalan hot sauce. (Go for the green stuff — it is, as my friend so eloquently described it, “banging.”)
I had a similar issue with El Frijolazo, a frank piled high with frijoles volteados (refried black beans) and queso fresco. Along with the avocado, these elements provided little textural contrast. But the flavors — especially the beans, rich and well-seasoned — were solid.
On my last visit, Los Shucos had just introduced a soy-based vegetarian hot dog as well as a gluten-free option. But I had my eye on the Dos Carnes — both bacon-wrapped frank and chorizo, together, with the usual toppings, finished with a healthy slug of yellow mustard. It’s simple spicy, smoky, tangy perfection. Cravings satisfied.
Location: 3224½ 22nd St. (near Mission Street), S.F.
Contact: (415) 366-3868, www.losshucos.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Price range: $5.95 to $7.95
Recommended dishes: El de la Foto ($7.95), El Huevon ($6.95), El Frijolazo ($6.95), Dos Carnes ($7.95)
Credit cards: All major
Reservations: Not accepted