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Believe it or not, prior to my visit to Bahia Tortugas in late September 2008, I had heard about "the hot dog guy down by the beach," in doing my Internet research on Bahia Tortugas.  Various accounts had mentioned in passing that this guy produces some of the best hot dogs that they'd ever eaten, but I was a bit skeptical, as the accounts were published by members of the yacht crowd, and when you're out at sea, enjoying the cuisine of fine canned food for a week or two, anything tasted good once you hit the beach.  Yet, I just had to find this guy...

Photo:  I passed by this shabby blue house many times, but like a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly, Juan and Hot Dog Negro came out at night to dazzle and amaze the world with his wonderful hot dogs.

In Mexico, hot dog stands generally pop up in the early evening, and frequently stay open until well after midnight, depending on how business is going.  I asked my gracious host Ernie, the manager of the Motel Nanci where I was staying, and he enthusiastically replied that it's fact, not fiction, and that Hot Dog Negro operates every evening at the foot of Calle Independencia, near the sports complex.  "Well," I asked, "Where has he been the last two nights?" and Ernie shrugged his shoulders and simply replied "No s."  Now where have I heard that before?

Photo:  I like a guy who looks directly into the camera, and that guy is Juan, as he places bacon wrapped hot dogs on his griddle.  That's a pot of beans heating on the side.  Condiments are placed in the bins in front.

Sunday evening, September 28, 2008, I was just about ready to give up on finding a new place to eat, as street vendors, taquerias and restaurants are quite scarce in Bahia Tortugas.  Something pulled me toward the beach, and Eureka!  ... at the food of Calle Indenpendencia, between the back side of the shuttered cannery and the spots complex, I spotted a colorful hot dog cart, strategically placed in front of a shabby blue house that I'd passed many times before...  Hot dog!  I'd found Hot Dogs Negro, and its smiling proprietor, Juan, cooking his world-famous hot dogs.

Photo:  Juan's condiments, the warming pot of beans, and bacon wrapped hot dogs cooking on the griddle.

Funny, during the last couple of days, I'd passed this non-decrepit, shabby house many times, and hadn't noticed a hot dog cart, which would draw me like a moth to a flame.  Obviously, Juan was taking a couple of days off, as one just can't miss his hot dog cart.  Like mot hot dog carts found anywhere, the cart itself is painted white, with "Hot Dogs" in red, and a picture of a hot dog painted on the side.  Its covered by a garish, striped red and yellow awning, with a red, plastic work table set to the side of it.  On the other side, there's a tall 20-gallon propane tank that provides fuel for heat, an ice chest for drinks, and a television, that's powered by an extension cord leading to the house.  Seating arrangements consist of a plastic park bench, and a couple of cheap, plastic chairs. Then there's Juan, the gregarious, friendly proprietor, the man who seems to know everybody in town.

Photo:  Juan places a bacon wrapped hot dog on a bun for me; my other dog is already waiting for me on the tray.

Juan is one of these guys who has an infectious smile, your beer drinkin' buddy, and a guy who once you start chatting with, seems like you've known him your whole life.  Everybody in town likes Juan, as folks who walk by wave and greet him, and those driving around honk their horns at him, and are rewarded with a wave and a smile.  Without further falderal, I ordered two bacon wrapped hot dogs.

Photo:  Juan applies mayonnaise to the hot dog, as per my request.

As Juan was placing the dogs on the griddle, I peppered him with questions, about Hot Dog Negro, Bahia Tortugas, and his life in general, which he gracious answered.  I found out that he is indeed the guy that I'd Googled, as he was familiar with the world wide web.  Hot Dog Negro is how he makes his living, and he has quite a clientele among the locals, as Mexicans love hot dogs, and the yacht set enjoy his hot dogs when they hit the beach.  To him, I was somewhat of a puzzle, as he told me that he hadn't seen an American come by vehicle for as long as he could remember, as the majority of gringo visitors arrive by yacht, and a few by private aircraft.  All the while we were engaged in conversation, people drove by and honked their horns at him.

Photo:  He gets ready to hand the tray of hot dogs to me... I'm sweating, foaming at the mouth and getting nervous in anticipation of taking a trip into hot dog heaven.

I noticed that the word "hamburguesas" appeared on the side of the cart, and I asked him about hamburgers, and he told me that he occasionally sells hamburguesas, but the majority of his business is hot dogs, as they seem to popular with the locals, and the yacht set, as he jokingly replied, will eat anything.  I asked him about the pot of the side of the griddle, and he said there pinto beans in there, if you wanted beans with your hot dog.  Now that's usually a no-brainier for me, but tonight, I wasn't in the mood for beans.

Photo:  Juan says "Come and get your dogs."  My camera came down in a hurry, the condiments went on the dogs, I took a bit of the first dog, and I was on my way to hot dog heaven.

For condiments, besides the customary squeeze bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise and yellow mustard, Hot Dog Negro offers hot dog relish, pickled jalapeo pepper slices, diced tomatoes, and surprise!  ... salsa verde...  I couldn't believe my good fortune... but when Juan handed me my plate of two hot dogs, it was time for the rubber to meet the road.

I love condiments, so piled my dogs full of condiments, including ketchup, which I usually shun.  Then I bit into the dog, and I though that I'd died and gone to hot dog heaven.  The hot dog actually snapped as I bit into it, the bacon was soft and chewy, and added flavor to the hot dog that only bacon can.  The condiments were fresh and delicious, and the buns, even they were store-purchased Bimbo brand buns, were soft and chewy, just like a hot dog bun should be.  The reports I'd read about this guy were correct, these dogs are to die for!  Editor's note: Bimbo is a popular brand in Mexico for hot dog buns, bread and other baked goods, and is widely distributed throughout the country.  Hot dog heaven for only MEX $14.00 per hot dog.  Juan asked me if I liked his dogs, and I just sighed, and by the contented look on my face, I think I answered his question.

Photo:  Here are my delicious bacon wrapped hot dogs, before I applied relish and salsa verde to them.  These dogs are good!

When you have a good thing going, why quit?  When I finished my hot dogs, I promptly ordered two more, as I couldn't resist the temptation, Hot Dog Negro's hot dogs are that good.

Later that night, after I fell asleep in my motel room, I was transported into the dream world hot dog heaven, dreaming of sugar plum hot dogs, juicy bacon, fresh hot dog buns, and some of the best hot dogs that I've had to pleasure to enjoy during my travels to Mexico, via Hot Dog Negro, in the small Baja California town of Bahia Tortugas.

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