Monday, April 28, 2014

T-Loc's Sonora Hot Dogs

"Man is only great when he acts from passion." ~ Benjamin Disraeli


If Benjamin Disraeli is to be believed, Miguel and Zulma Kaiser are pretty damn great. One has only to visit with them for a few minutes about their three-week-old business, T-Loc's Sonora Hot Dogs, to become firmly convinced of their deep passion for the food they're serving from their little trailer on Burnet Road.

Miguel graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Arizona and started his career with a bang as a commis at Thomas Keller's Per Se. He's held a number of jobs since then, most recently in a local hotel, working hard to hone his skills both in the back of the house and the front. He recently put in his two-week notice at his day job so he can focus on T-Loc's, which means that they will soon be able to provide lunch service in addition to their current dinner hours (EDIT: They are now open for lunch!).

Miguel and Zulma met while they were both working at a restaurant in Tucson. He was in the kitchen, she was bussing tables, and he was attracted to her work ethic. "She was always hustling," he says, with a note of great respect in his voice. She worked the morning shift and he worked nights, and he started going out of his way to say hello to her when he left. Years later, he proposed to her atop a pyramid in Honduras. They plan to marry later this year.

So, what's a Sonoran hot dog, you ask? You video-lovers can check out this clip from Man vs. Food; you readers can instead devour this short piece from Sunset magazine. Or, in case you don't feel like doing any homework, just drive on over to T-Loc's and check out their graphic menu:

Sonora Hot Dog Menu

Better yet, don't bother with the menu and dive into the real thing.

Sonora Hot Dog
Sonora Hot Dog, just $5.

Sonora Hot Dog Closeup
About to Bite Cam

I'd never tasted a Sonoran dog before, and I was instantly smitten. The combination of flavors and textures just works - the soft, steamed bun and the earthy beans serve as mellowing influences to the bite of the mustard, the tangy jalapeno sauce, the sharpness of the raw onions, the acidity of the fresh tomatoes, and the salty, bacon-wrapped dog. The crowning slathering of mayonnaise just pulls it all together and, as Miguel put it, "helps it go down a little easier."  This is a hot dog.

After tasting the Sonora dog, I would never have given anything else on the menu a second glance. But my husband wanted to try the carne asada burrito. He loved it so much that he ate three of them this week alone.

Sonora Hot Dog carne asada burrito
I am pretty sure my husband finished the other half of this burrito 
before I finished taking this photo.

After the carne asada success, of course I had to try the bean and cheese burrito on my next visit. This is not a dish I would typically order, but after trying the one at T-Loc's, I just may have to start.

Sonora Hot Dog bean & cheese burrito
Bean & Cheese burrito - ridiculously cheap at $4.

Despite their incredibly affordable prices, Miguel refuses to skimp on quality. He insists on getting the ingredients right and in order to ensure that he does, he has buns and tortillas Fed Ex'd to him from Tucson. He and Zulma make their own sauces and their own beverages, which include a rotating selection of homemade agua frescas and horchata (my husband is completely addicted to the pineapple agua fresca).

In short, T-Loc's Sonora Hot Dogs offers wonderful food at excellent prices. Best of all, you'll be helping a very sweet, exceedingly hardworking couple realize their dream.

Miguel and Zulma
Miguel and Zulma Kaiser, owners of T-Loc's Sonora Hot Dogs

T-Loc's Sonora Hot Dogs
5715 Burnet Road (across from the HEB at 2222 and Burnet)
512-994-8982

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Monday, April 7, 2014

An Ode to Tiny Pies

(Sung to the tune of Lyin' Eyes by the Eagles)

Tiny Pies

This city girl, she tries to find out early
When the brand new stores are comin' 'round
When one opens, she gets there in a hurry
To see what tasty treats can there be found

This pastry shop was much anticipated
And when it came it did not fail to please
One bite and she was instantly elated
The caramel apple brought her to her knees

A mixed assortment of six different flavors
So hard it was not to devour them all
Every bite she forced herself to savor
Wishin' all the while they weren't so small

You can't hiiiiiide your Tiny Pies
You might just try, but it ain't wise
I thought by now you'd realize
There ain't no way to hide your Tiny Pies

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from Tiny PIes

Tiny Pies
5035 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78757
512-916-0184

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sound Bites: Ramen at the Whole Foods Domain

The new Whole Foods in the Domain is really stepping up its game. I tried their build-your-own ramen bowl the other day and was very impressed. It's no Ramen Tatsu-Ya, of course, but I always love being able to build a meal to suit my ever-changing food whims, and you don't have to stand in line for an hour to get it, either. They have many delightful topping options; I chose soy sauce egg, cabbage, watermelon radish, seaweed, black mushrooms, corn, fried shallots, and pork belly for mine. Oh, and a generous squeeze of hot sauce. Behold:

Whole Foods Domain ramen

They offer both pork and veggie broth, and it'll set you back just $10 for a very large bowl. We've come a long way from Maruchan, baby.


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