For a city with such strong Mexican roots and influence, Houston is sadly lacking in Sonoran-style hot dogs. They pop up from time to time on board food trucks or as seasonal menu items at places like JCI Grill, but the bacon-wrapped, salsa-topped hot dogs that have frequently been called the best in the world are still rarely spotted outside Good Dog Houston, which has featured its own version—the Ol' Zapata Dog, which The Daily Meal once crowned the best in America—since opening its Heights restaurant in 2013.
But the Ol' Zapata now has serious competition, and from an unlikely place: Habanera and the Gringo, the Hobby-area "Mexican bistro and margarita bar" that's received more accolades for its fresh-fruit cocktails and mole enchiladas since opening last May than for its hot dogs. But when the waitress told us during a visit last week that the Mexidog was her "absolute favorite," we had to order it alongside our beef cheek tostadas and pork belly pipian.
While a true Sonoran-style dog from the Mexican state that borders much of Arizona typically features beans in addition to the bacon, salsa, ketchup, mustard and onions on top, the Mexidog at Habanera and the Gringo takes a more streamlined, considered approach. In lieu of beans, it's dosed with creamy white queso. And instead of just any old salsa, this salsa is rich with charred green chiles, with a final crunch of raw white onions for posterity.
The Mexidog comes with a side of skinny fries, also covered with more of that irresistible white queso, and although you only get one hot dog per plate, it more than makes a meal—the kind of meal, we should note, that requires a fork and knife to finish. And at $7.99, it's a steal worthy of an appearance in our guide to Houston's Best Cheap Eats, if only we'd tried it sooner. For max Cheap Eats impact, we suggest pairing it with one of Habanera and the Gringo's equally laudable margaritas during happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. daily and all day long on Wednesdays.