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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
Who is Mija?
Mija is Lesley Téllez, a food writer and culinary guide in New York City. I spent four years in Mexico's Distrito Federal, which launched my deep love for Mexican food and culture. In 2010 I co-founded the tourism company Eat Mexico.
Be kind, ask permission!All photos on this site were taken by me, unless otherwise noted. If you'd like to use a photo, please email me.
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