In my quest for the best street food in Denver, I've had a tough time tracking down a Sonoran hot dog that does justice to the Mexican original or stateside versions that have become common in Tucson, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Diego. A handful of half-hearted substitutes can be found around Denver, but most are just regular hot dogs sidled up against a slice of bacon in a standard bun, with maybe a few pickled jalapeños or perhaps a squiggle of guacamole, if you're lucky. But leave it to Federal Boulevard to finally produce a hot dog that Sonora would be proud of: Los Mangos opened recently at 920 South Federal Boulevard, serving an array of burgers, dogs and burritos worthy of the finest street vendors.
Los Mangos had been operating as a neveria, with ice cream, frozen yogurt and tangy/salty snack foods, for more than two years, but earlier this month the shop expanded into the space next door with a separate entrance and a shared kitchen. Both sides of Los Mangos are clad in shiny white tile, faux-wood floors and gleaming stainless steel.
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A properly constructed Sonoran hot dog is far more than a simple wiener on a flimsy bun. Los Mangos starts with a fat frankfurter wrapped in tissue-thin bacon and jams it into a split-open bolillo — the same kind of roll used to make tortas. From there, a generous dollop of guacamole is added, along with diced tomatoes, onions, refried beans, mayo, mustard, ketchup and bacon crumbles. The result is too unwieldy to pick up with your hands (unless you're prepared to wear some of those toppings home), so a fork is required equipment. This is a departure from street versions of the dog, which must be self-contained since to-go customers don't have the luxury of a plate or a table.
Battered fries and a vivid green salsa come with the dog, which sells for about $9 — which might seem pricey, until you actually see the thing in person. Equally impressive are the shop's burgers (some stacked with ham, shrimp, pineapple and other unlikely toppings) and bacon-wrapped burritos. If you go, bring cash (or hit the ATM at Tacos y Salsas next door), but decide first whether you want dinner or dessert — there's no way you'll have room for both.
Los Mangos is open from noon to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Feast your eyes on the fruit-based constructions and other treats on the company's Facebook page, or call 303-922-6285 for more details.