San Carlos, Sonora at sunset
A few weeks ago we were in Sonora for a wedding. It was only a four day trip, and most of the time we were busy with wedding activities. By the time we had to leave, though, I felt like my eyes had been opened. “Norteño food!” I wanted to shout from the rooftops. “NORTEÑO FOOD!”
Sonoran food, in my brief experience, included excellent cuts of meat; seafood with the occasional Asian influence (soy sauce and whole chiles, anyone?) and interesting salsas, some with charred tomato, others with cucumber.
Here’s more about I loved the most from my quick trip:
1. The steak. I’m not a big red-meat eater, but I couldn’t resist ordering a rib-eye at Mochomos, a fancy Sonoran fusion restaurant. It was the best steak I’ve had in a long time — velvety, peppery and oozing bits of juice. The only hassle was trying to tell them I wanted the steak “medium rare”; apparently such a term doesn’t exist in Ciudad Obregón. We settled on “entre término inglés y medio.” I didn’t get a picture of the steak because I ate it too quickly. But I did get a photo of Crayton’s arrachera, so you can see what we’re dealing with here:
Arrachera from Mochomo’s restaurant in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora
2. Chile caribe stuffed with marlin. I didn’t know the chile caribe until it came on the side of a hot dog we ordered at the Ciudad Obregón ball park. It was a squat, pale yellow thing, served simply, charred and unpeeled. The chile tasted buttery and spicy and almost sweet — I loved that it wasn’t overloaded with vinegar like the chiles encurtidos in DF. (Granted, I love me some chiles encurtidos, but sometimes you need a break.)
At Los Arbolitos, a famous seafood restaurant chain throughout Sonora, the chiles caribes came stuffed with smoked marlin and rolled around in what tasted like bacon fat, all while lying in a little lagoon of soy sauce. It was umami overload. I wanted to squeal.
Chiles caribes stuffed with marlin at Los Arbolitos, Ciudad Obregón, Sonora
3. Hot Dogs. I had heard about the famous Sonora hot dogs before I visited, and in fact it was the only thing I told the bride that I needed to try. On our first night in Ciudad Obregón, we visited the local baseball stadium, where of course we ordered a dog, known as a “dogo” locally. It was a bacon-wrapped monster, wedged in a fluffy bun and drizzled with various toppings. (This is the hot-dog equivalent of a torta.) Stadium food in Mexico is usually middling to sub-par, but this thing was worthy of several rapturous Tweets. The salchicha’s meaty flavor! The sweet burn of the chile caribe on the side! The bacon, the cheese!
A hot dog, cut in half, from the Yaquis baseball stadium in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora.
We had one more hot dog in Hermosillo, thanks to a taxi driver who shared his recommended spot with us. These buns were kept in a little metal steamer tray, and they tasted better than the ones at the stadium. They were soft and sweet, like a puffed-up version of the packaged hot dog buns we used to buy when I was a kid.
Street-side hot dog in Hermosillo, Sonora
On my next trip I want to try the sobaqueras — flour tortillas so large you can swaddle a baby in them, and so thin they’re nearly translucent. (Here’s a neat sobaquera video, so you can get an idea of what they’re like.)
What else did I miss? Please share!