No longer the sole domain of ballparks and children’s parties, hot dogs have gone gourmet.

[Editor's Note: This story has been altered to correct the website address of Pelon's Mexican Hot Dogs. The Ind regrets the error.]

Food 
  Photo by Robin May
   Tony Bailey, proprietor of Pelon's

Let’s get the jokes and accusations out of the way right now and say a hot dog is subjected to the same sanctions as any other food, so freaking out about its innards isn’t necessarily a worry. Besides, Acadiana is famous for stuffing rice and pig organs into a tube — we’re not one to point fingers.

Unlike boudin, hot dogs have evolved. Far from the choice of kosher or Chicago-style, the links have seen a rebirth as of late. From foie gras to Kobe beef to pineapple and Spam, all sorts of non-traditional ingredients have been peeking out of carbohydrate exteriors the past several years, but the country that has really taken to livening up the dog is Mexico.

Mexican cities have lots of hot dog carts and restaurants offering the country’s take, and it goes far beyond guacamole. Pelon’s Mexican Hot Dogs at 1506 Verot School Road was inspired by a trip Pelon, aka Tony Bailey, took with his wife.

With a background in sales and as a manager and co-owner of both Roly Poly locations, opening his own place was a dream of Bailey’s. “This building was originally a Cajun Sno location. I picked it because of its location and it’s fully equipped for what I wanted to do,” says Bailey, who spent years perfecting his recipes. “I worked on recipes for about six years.”

Pelon means bald in Spanish, and Bailey is both chrome-domed and a lover of hot dogs, so the name came easily from his host family in Mexico. While on a church mission trip to San Luis several years ago, Bailey acquired a taste for all Mexican food, including the magnificent way the hot dogs typically come: wrapped in bacon and deep fried.

I’ll pause and let that epic epicurean feat sink in a minute.

Pelon’s takes a hot dog made out of turkey and gives it a cozy blanket of hardwood smoked bacon and a whirl in the deep fryer. Then you’re given a choice to wrap it in a tortilla, to make a tacquito out of it or have it on the traditional bun with which most Americans are familiar. From here you get to choose three toppings from a list of eight, or choose as many as you want for a few pennies more.

There’s probably no way to describe what it sounds like to say to your best friend, “Happy Birthday! I’m taking you to eat Mexican hot dogs!” But if you don’t get the chance, it is a mixture of awe and trepidation. She eats hot dogs twice a year and I never do. Full disclosure? I don’t like hot dogs — the texture freaks me out.

And now? Apparently both of us found the hot dogs we’ll eat often and a reason to go to the Southside. For $3.19 she got the Taco Dog, a tortilla wrapped frank with grilled onions, shredded cheese and house-made guacamole. Also for $3.19 I got the tacquito with chili, grilled onions, guacamole and sour cream. Both were amazing. The hot dog takes on a heartier texture and flavor and the bacon, sliced thin, bolsters the skin and adds an amazing slap of flavor and bite. With the tacquito the corn tortilla is fried with the dog and becomes a snappy stick of meat. The chili, which is also sold as a meal if franks aren’t your thing, is very good. It’s not spicy, but that’s easy enough to make happen to your taste.

As a side, Bailey insisted we try the esquites. “It’s a traditional Mexican dish,” he says. “Corn is roasted and then put into a cup with either butter or Mexican sour cream and spices.” Roasted corn pops into your mouth with a deep sweetness, and when you add butter and soft spices like cumin its depth is unbelievable. After our hot dogs neither of us could finish our cups of corn.

One great bonus is Pelon’s offers Mexican soft drinks on the side. If you’ve never had the pleasure of a “real Coke,” also known as coke made with actual sugar, good lord, it’s worth a dose of diabetes. The sangria soda known as Sangria Senorial was pilfered from me by the birthday girl. It’s alcohol-free but has all the great flavors of an innocent, boozy summer cocktail.

Find Pelon’s Mexican Hot Dogs online at mexicanhotdogs.com or call 446-4466 to find out more. Look for Pelon’s to be mobile with a food cart in the next few months. Open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

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