The dish is called shuco, often defined as a term that’s “not Spanish or Maya, but a word that represents their meeting point.” The definition I found online goes on to say it translates loosely as “dirty,” though I think it’s closer to “messy” as in “eat this dish while wearing a clean white shirt, and it won’t be a clean white shirt any more.”

At Puchica Guatemalan Bar & Grill in Sherman Oaks, shuco means “hot dog,” which it is in much the same way that a 24-course meal at The French Laundry is “dinner.” It is what it is, but it’s also so much more.

There are six shucos offered at Puchica, served Mondays and Tuesdays only, that are all insanely large. They’re like hot dogs on steroids, but not hot dogs in the Americana sense. They’re served on soft buns with a wiener hidden somewhere within, but the bun is just a vessel and the wiener really is a side issue. It’s everything else that makes a shuco a shuco.

Shuco El Tuanis

Shuco El Tuanis

Shucos range from $8.95 to $11.50 and, at least the night I was there, come with a complimentary beer (that part was not mentioned on the menu, so maybe it was just a reward for showing up on a slow night). The shucos at Puchica are the definition of the one-dish meal. The top-priced one — the Puchica!!!at $11.50 — contains beef carne asada, pork adobada, red chorizo sausage, white longaniza sausage, chimichurri sauce, mayo, mustard, lettuce, guacamole, a pepper and tomato salad called chirmol, plus ketchup. I doubt that it’s possible to lift it and eat it like a hot dog (if it is, I certainly didn’t try). I don’t eat my pizza with a knife and fork, but in the case of a shuco, utensils are essential.

The other five are basically variations on the top-dog theme. In one case, the dog is wrapped in bacon, in another the mayonnaise is flavored with serrano chiles. There are beans (frijol volteado) on one version, grilled onions on another. But they’re all essentially a hot dog that’s been allowed to run wild. And even though the oversized shucos are served Mondays and Tuesdays only, there’s a daily dog called Mixtas, assembled in a tortilla, with cabbage salad, guacamole, mayo, ketchup and tomatoes. Maybe someday this will replace the Dodger Dog.

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