50 States of Hot Dogs
From Chicago’s famous vegetable-topped Red Hots in a poppyseed bun to so-called dirty water dogs on New York City street corners, franks are an American culinary rite of passage. Here are the 50 United States of hot dogs.
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Birmingham Hot Dog, Gus's Hot Dogs (Alabama)
One of the oldest hot dog stands in a city that was once home to countless frank purveyors, Gus’s is the place to try the Birmingham hot dog developed by the city’s early Greek immigrants. Both the regular and the "special" dogs feature a half pork-half beef weenie charred on the 70-year-old grill and served in a steamed standard issue bun with yellow mustard, chopped white onion, sauerkraut and spice-scented special sauce that’s like a sweeter, tangier version of New York pushcart-style onions. The special, with the addition of ground beef, is city’s storied hot dog claim to fame, as owner Lee Pantazis sees it. "A small piece of history wedged in a bun covered in sauce," he says.
Reindeer Dog, International House of Hot Dogs (Alaska)
Long before the wild game sausage trend took over gastropub menus across the United States, Anchorage residents where noshing on dogs showcasing one locally ubiquitous, otherwise rare ingredient: reindeer. Reindeer has been a summertime street cart specialty in the Last Frontier for more than two decades. But International House of Hot Dogs serves its McKinley Dog throughout the year - sleigh-pulling season included. It starts with a hearty and heavily spiced Polish-style reindeer sausage in a bun with a simple combination of sauteed onions and a sweet and smoky homemade chipotle sauce.
Sonoran Hot Dog, Aqui con el Nene (Arizona)
Peddled by hundreds of restaurants and street cart-pushing hotdogueros throughout Tucson and Phoenix, Sonoran hot dogs are so common in Arizona, they might as well be called Grand Canyon wieners. Beef franks are swaddled in bacon and griddled until they fuse together like a carnivorous candy cane. Those flavorful franks are cradled in a fluffy Mexican baguette, then topped with a whole shebang of toppings like pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard and spicy salsa. At Aqui con el Nene in Tucson, those exceptional dogs are served chilipon-style with a toasted bun and melted cheese with all the old reliables and a world-class jalapeno sauce.
Chili Dog, Spradlin's Dairy Delight (Arkansas)
One of those dishes of unknown origin, the Frito Chili Pie — corn chips topped with bold chili, cheese and crisp onion — is claimed by many places throughout the South and Southwest. This 1957 England, Arkansas, dairy is one. Owner Claude Spradlin claims that infamous dish has been on the menu for more than a half-century. And while he still serves plenty of chili-topped Fritos, he sells a lot more hot dogs coated in that same sauce. Spradlin's chili dogs follow the Arkansas ethos, its footlong dog topped with mustard, chili and slaw with optional additions of American cheese, pickled jalapenos and raw onions. And, of course, Fritos are available on the side.
Dodger Dog, Dodger Stadium (California)
Hot dogs are a baseball rite of passage, and few dogs are as associated with a ballclub as the Dodgers' Dodger Dog. A fan favorite since 1962, the 10-inch Dodger Dog is available steamed or grilled at kiosks throughout the stadium, then tucked into a steamed bun. Kiosks nearby offer ketchup, mustard, onions and relish. Bring it back to your seat and feast while looking out at the palm tree-silhouetted horizon. It's as Californian as a hot dog experience can get.
Elk-Jalapano-Cheddar Sausage, Biker Jim's (Colorado)
From a souped-up hot dog cart on Denver's 16th Street Mall to multiple carts, a brick-and-mortar locale and a stand at Coors Field, Jim Pittenger, aka Biker Jim, has become the de facto hot dog king of the Rocky Mountains for his creative toppings and 15 gourmet different sausages. Many highlight Rocky Mountain-inspired wild game, ranging from wild boar and Southwest buffalo to rattlesnake and pheasant. None represent the Centennial State better than the spicy and savory elk-jalapeno-cheddar sausage. Guests can order it topped however they please, but the proper accoutrement for this top dog is Biker Jim's cream cheese and caramelized onion cooked in soda.
New Englander, Super Duper Weenie (Connecticut)
Cities like New York and Chicago get tons of hot dog praise; however, Connecticut is hailed by those in the know as one of the greatest wiener sanctuaries in the United States. Exemplary hot dog stands can be found in pretty much every town. One of the best is Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield. Owner Gary Zemola is known for sourcing prime ingredients for all of the housemade toppings (like the highly classified relish), house-baked rolls and fresh-cut fries. The proper order is the New Englander, which starts out with a Hummel Bros. frank purchased from the family-run New Haven deli. In the classic New England style, it’s split in half and grilled, then topped with a healthy serving of sauerkraut, bacon, raw white onions, mustard and relish.
Griddle-Fried Franks, Deerhead Hot Dogs (Delaware)
Split griddle-fried franks are an obligatory Delaware rite of passage during the summer months. For in-the-know Delawareans, these crisp dogs drum up ardent everyday affection akin to Joe Biden' s obsession with aviator sunglasses. Deerhead Hot Dogs has been center-slicing and crisping up its dogs according to local tradition since 1935. Those side-by-side halves are cradled in a soft dinner roll-like bun with compulsory mustard, onions and a healthy serving of its secret tomato-based sauce thatâ s like a slightly spicy, sweet and tangy cross between standard chili and the liquid that comes in a can of Heinz baked beans.
Cartel Dog, Pincho Factory (Florida)
Drawing inspiration from the local flavors found throughout Miami and the streets of Latin America, the folks behind South Florida’s fast-casual Pincho Factory created the Cartel Dog. It has quickly beat out all other wieners to take the podium as Miami’s favorite hot dog. A grilled kosher frank is slathered with a wholly unkosher, but incredibly delicious mix of chopped bacon, cheddar cheese, mango sauce, potato sticks and secret pink Pincho sauce, a ketchup and mayonnaise blend that’s a favorite condiment throughout South America.
Scrambled Dog, Dinglewood Pharmacy (Georgia)
Back around 1946, an inventive Columbus, Georgia, restaurateur decided to create a unique hot dog dish with boiled chopped franks smothered in chili, onions and pickles served with a substantial handful of oyster crackers on top that was intended to be consumed with utensils. That diner went out of business, but its Scrambled Dog stuck around, becoming a Columbus-area mainstay. It's been on the menu, true to its original form, for more than 50 years at the century-old Dinglewood Pharmacy, where it's served in a porcelain relish dish and a spoon. This regional classic is still so popular that accounts for 85 percent of the independent pharmacy's soda fountain sales.
Puka Dog, Puka Dog (Hawaii)
Essentially a larger, more interesting take on pigs in blankets, this Hawaiian specialty features a proprietary dog cradled inside freshly baked Hawaiian sweet bread. That bun, called a puka for the hole in the center, is where the shop and corresponding hot dog style get their name. Each one of these volcano-like snacks comes with choice of Polish sausage or veggie dog, garlic-lemon secret sauce (ranging in heat from mild to lava), and pick of Hawaiian fruit relish with tropical flavors including mango, pineapple, coconut and papaya. Those seeking traditional condiments can also add ketchup, yellow or Dijon mustard, sweet relish and the state's special — and addictive — Auntie Lilikoi's Hawaiian mustard.
Tater Dog, Dave's Tater Grill (Idaho)
Idaho is best known for its eponymous spuds, so it makes sense that representative wiener has some potatoes incorporated into the mix. Cue: the tater dog. At Dave’s Tater Grill, a food cart parked on Boise’s 6th Street between Main and Grove, late-night diners queue for shredded hash browns grilled with cheddar and jack cheeses laid on a toasted bun with a quarter-pound Nathan’s all-beef hot dog (or whatever other sausage you please) crown.
Chicago Red Hot, Superdawg Drive-In (Illinois)
The winking weenie couple atop this 1948 drive-in have been a beacon to Windy City hot dog lovers for more than half a century. This multigenerational icon is hailed as one of Chicago's top red hots. Here, proprietary beef hot dogs are served on steamed poppy seed buns and dragged through the garden with yellow mustard, sweet neon green relish, chopped white onion, a kosher dill pickle spear and hot sport peppers as is tradition in the Second City, but this real drive-in - complete with carhop service - also throws on a pickled green tomatoes, as well. Get yours with a side of crinkle cut fries and an old-fashioned Supermalt to wash it down.
Coney Island Hot Dog, Fort Wayne's Famous Coney Island (Indiana)
A short drive from the Michigan and Ohio borders, Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island picks up where celebrated Coney traditions of Detroit and Cincinnati (sort of) stop. Owned and operated by the same family for more than a century, this lively eatery has worked its way into the city’s culinary fabric. It sells around a million hot dogs per year. Why the fuss? Its legendary dogs are just that good. Each frank is grilled and placed inside a steamed bun with mustard, hand-chopped onions and homemade Coney sauce that’s essentially Greek bolognese. The must-order is "three and a bottle," three dogs with all the fixings and a bottle of Coke.
Good Dog, Los Banditos Hot Dog Speakeasy (Iowa)
What started as a joke between friends — about a hot dog speakeasy in the old basement bar of Krunkwich Ramen House — turned into an reality. This late-night weekend pop-up serves a diverse array of hot dogs from the ramen shop after it’s finished serving noodles. Locally produced Berkwood Farms pork franks serve as the base for most of the Asian, Latin American, French and Midwestern-inspired hot dogs and sides. (The tater tot casserole should be Iowa’s state dish.) The most-popular pick is the Good Dog, inspired by a late-night chat about crab rangoon pizza. Unlike the other franks, this dog is all beef, served alongside a cream cheese and real crab spread, rolled in an egg roll wrapper, deep fried and placed on a bun with housemade sweet chile sauce.
When Pat and Gina Neely went on a hunt for some of the best eats around Kansas City on Road Tasted with the Neelys, they stopped by Fritz' s Meat & Superior Sausage for a taste of its prized smoked bacon. But this small Leawood, Kansas, butcher shop is known for way more than its luscious cured pork belly. As one of Kansas Cityâ s oldest smokehouses, established in 1927, all of the meats and sausages sold from this butcher are top notch - including its hot dogs. During lunch, locals lineup for housemade all-beef dogs simply served with mustard and sauerkraut or dressed up with a bacon wrap, deep-fried and gussied up like a BLT in the HDBLT.
Alligator Dog, Dixie Chili (Kentucky)
Cincinnati’s love of chili spills across the border into Northern Kentucky. There are probably just as many places serving that chili-topped spaghetti and Coney dogs in the top reaches of the Bluegrass State as in the city that inspired its name. Founded in 1929, Dixie Chili is one of the state’s top places to get a taste of a Cincinnati Coney; however, its most iconic dog doesn’t come with the spicy, meat dressing. The alligator, a petite beef and pork frank, is covered in a heaping pile of shredded cheddar cheese, a crisp dill spear and a mix of mayonnaise and mustard inside a soft white bun. Of course, guests can add chili and chopped sweet onion if they really want to go for it.
Crawfish Étouffée Dog, Dat Dog (Louisiana)
What Louisiana lacks in hot dog history, it makes up for in culinary ingenuity. The fun-loving folks behind NOLA’s Dat Dog draw from the city’s deep-rooted comestible heritage, stuffing it all into various hot dog buns. Its sausage selection spans from alligator and creole hot sausage to a Guinness-infused brat. The item most representative of South Louisiana, however, is the crawfish étouffée dog. Crawfish sausage, smoked with mild Creole seasoning, is smothered with savory crawfish étouffée, sour cream, onions, tomatoes and Creole mustard, nestled inside a sweet sourdough bun.
Maine Red Snapper, Dysart's (Maine)
Earning their name from their crimson hue and signature snap, Maine Red Snappers are a mainstay at family barbecues and campsites around the Pine Tree State. These locally made naturally cased beef and pork franks get their vibrant neon color from a healthy dose of food dye. They can be found at grocery stores and hot dog stands in every corner of the state, but they come paired with another Maine signature at Dysart’s Restaurant & Truck Stop. Those glowing wieners are paired with baked Maine yellow-eye beans, served 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the Herman roadside stop.
Jumbo Jewish Hot Dog, Attman's Delicatessen (Maryland)
A landmark on Baltimore' s Corned Beef Row since 1915, fourth-generation-owned Attman's has outlived most of its peers and generations of newcomers. It is not just one of the most-famous delis in Charm City, it' s one of the most-legendary Jewish sandwich shops in the entire country. The Jumbo Jewish Hot Dog has become a Maryland staple. Here' s why, an all-beef frank is tucked under a blanket of crisp-fried bologna, cloaked in your choice of mustard, onions, relish and ketchup - plus chili for those who really want to live boldly - barely held together with a fresh-baked roll.
Fenway Frank, Fenway Park (Massachusetts)
Coney Dog, American Coney Island (Michigan)
Motor City may be the Car Capital of the World and the birthplace of Motown, but food-lovers have long associated it with the Coney Dog. Layered with chili, lined with mustard and dotted with onions, these franks have spread across the Midwest, becoming staples in places as far away as Kentucky and Oklahoma. You have to try them at side-by-side originals Lafayette and American Coney Island to get in on the age-old Detroit debate as to which is best. That multigenerational question has most likely spawned more than one Montague-Capulet-like feuds.
Corn Dog, The Depot Tavern (Minnesota)
Minnesotans take their state fair seriously. It’s one of the best-attended expositions in the United States. And attendees start planning what they’re going to eat months before the event takes place. Obviously, the requisite order is something deep-fried on a stick. Though, the options keep getting crazier and crazier (think: corned beef-stuffed giant tater tots), the Minnesota corn dog is still a long-standing favorite. Minneapolis locals can indulge in one of the best riffs on the cornmeal-battered frank throughout the year at the Depot Tavern. Its Diamond Corn Dog features a quarter-pound all-beef weenie wrapped with pepper bacon, dunked in cornmeal batter, deep-fried to golden brown, served with a tangy maple mustard sauce on the side.
Creole-Topped Mississippi Dog, Dis and Dem (Mississippi)
Bringing a taste of New Orleans’ nouveau gourmet frankfurter trend to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Dis and Dem offers a nationally inspired selection of wieners, including the beer-battered fried-cod Pacific Dog, a classic Chicago Dog and the grilled gator Swamp Dog. Each is inspired, but the simple Mississippi Dog is the way to go. Grilled Polish Kielbasa, made from garlic- and paprika-scented beef, is topped with choice of cooked or fresh sauerkraut, onions, tomatoes and mustard. It’s straightforward, flavorful, crisp yet juicy, but if you really feel the need to jazz it up, opt for the Creole mustard on top.
KC Dog, Up Dog (Missouri)
Hootdog, Lewiston Farmers' Market (Montana)
Rita Hofer admits it was a crazy idea. The King Colony Hutterite woman essentially created Montana’s state hot dog — it’s frankfurter roots aren’t as deep as places in the Midwest and East — when she skewered a hot dog, wrapped it in fry-bread dough and dipped it in a vat of boiling oil. Hofer serves it with ketchup and mustard on the side at the Lewistown Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from June through October. Basically a corn dog without the corn, Hofer named this Big Sky Country invention after the slang term some Montanans use to describe members of her Anabaptist-descended religious colony, Hoots, hence the punny Hootdog title.
Nebraska: B&B Classic Dogs (Nebraska)
The specifics are cloudy but the most-credible story about the birthplace of the Reuben claims that the sandwich of corned beef, melted Emmental cheese and sauerkraut with Russian dressing on grilled marbled rye was created at Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel. So, it make sense that Nebraskans love their Reubens in any form, including hot dogs. At Bellevue’s B&B Classic Dogs, one of the most-popular franks is the Cornhusker-inspired Rueben [their spelling], a quarter-pound Nathan’s beef frank covered with thousand island dressing, kraut, melted swiss and, to mimic the original bread, caraway seeds all nestled within a toasted bun. Guests can opt to get the whole thing, bun included, wrapped in a tortilla and dunked in the fryer.
Naked Dog, Cheffini's Hot Dog (Nevada)
At some point in its flashy history, Las Vegas adopted a hot dog style all its own, the naked dog. Seriously. Exactly as it sounds, the dog is a simple char-grilled beef hot dog served simply in a plain bun. It’s either the most-perfect or most-inaccurate metaphor for Sin City, depending on how one looks at it. The modest dogs can still be found all over town, but one of the best places to munch into one is Cheffini’s Hot Dogs. There, guests can sample the classic naked dog in all its bare glory or follow the city’s ostentatious vibe with an array of diverse and showy toppings ranging from seaweed, avocado and pickled mango to dry chorizo, pork belly and fried quail egg.
New Hampshire: Vin's Dogs
It’s pretty clear that New Englanders love their hot dogs. From Connecticut’s omnipresent hot dog stands to Fenway’s famous franks to Maine’s red snappers and Rhode Island’s oddly titled New York Systems Wieners, the Northeastern tip of the United States has plenty of regional hot dogs. New Hampshire may not have its own style, but the state is still home to one weenie that combines two — or three — of the greatest dishes known to man. At Vin’s Dogs in Woodsville, fans love the bacon mac and cheese dog, a Sabrett frank topped with Cabot Creamery Vermont cheddar-infused mac n’ cheese and crispy smoked bacon hold together by a steamed bun.
Rippers, Rutt' s Hut (New Jersey)
Garden State residents love their weenies just as much as New Yorkers do. The most-famous of all Jersey dogs is the Ripper, a deep-fried pork and beef frank that gets its name from the rips and cracks in the skin that result from its dip in the deep fryer. Rutt’s Hut in Clifton has been cooking rippers this way since 1928. They’re served on a regular or toasted bun with a mustard and special relish that’s just as legendary as the hot dogs themselves.
Chile Dog, Dog House (New Mexico)
Highlighted on several episodes of Breaking Bad, this tiny Route 66 shack has become a mandatory stop for fans. But long before it achieved small-screen glory, Dog House already had an ardent following for its peppery chili dogs. A small amount of meat serves as the base for the flavorful crimson sauce, which is cooked down for hours to the point that the meat is nearly invisible. Hatch red chile and a secret blend of spices are added at the end. It’s served atop split and grilled skinless beef and pork footlongs (or six-inchers) with brown mustard and additional options of cheese sauce and onions.
White Hot, Schaller's Drive-In (New York)
Dirty water dogs, Papaya dogs, truffle mayo-topped gourmet dogs: the Big Apple has long sucked all the air out of New York state's weenie balloon. But love of franks spread well beyond the borders of the five boroughs. That's why it's time to extol the merits of the white hot, a Central and Western New York delicacy most often produced by Zweigle' s made from a combination of unsmoked, uncured pork, beef and veal, in a natural casing. Try one at Schaller' s Drive-In in Rochester. Open since 1956, the retro lakeside stop seems to have changed little in the decades since. Their classic white hot preparation is topped with the usual meat-based " hot sauce," mustard and onions.
Slaw Dog, R.O's Bar-B-Cue (North Carolina)
While mustard is a must on hot dogs in New York, tomatoes are a go-to in Chicago and Cincinnati chili tops dogs throughout Ohio, in the South it’s all about the slaw. Across the Southeast, hot dogs are smothered in either creamy or barbecue coleslaw. One of the most famous versions is sold at Gastonia’s R.O.’s Bar-B-Cue. It may sound odd that a barbecue spot is better known for its hot dog — slaw dog specifically — than its ’cue, but it combines the best of the South in its unique recipe. Finely processed cabbage is mixed with mayo, hot and sweet spices, and pimientos in a creamy, orange-toned slurry that is the perfect — though unexpected — accent to a hot dog in a white bun.
Smoked Rabbit-Rattlesnake Wurst, Wurst Bier Hall (North Dakota)
Bringing the German bier hall tradition to the Roughrider State, this brew-centric Fargo hangout has been hailed as the best beer bar in the state. Its ever-rotating assortment of suds is the perfect pairing for the expansive sausage list, which spans from classic brats and Polish kielbasa to gourmet Portuguese linguiça and all-American chicken apple-smoked sausage. The best representation of North Dakota is the smoked rabbit with rattlesnake and jalapeno wurst. Combining Southwestern heat with northern plains inspiration, this exotic showboat is served on fresh-baked French bread with choice of grilled onion, kraut and sweet or hot peppers.
Polish Boy, Banter (Ohio)
Ohio has strong dog-centric culinary traditions, including Cincinnati chili dogs. Back in the 1940s, the Polish Boy emerged on Cleveland's fast food scene. It's a stack of coleslaw, barbecue sauce, hot sauce and a pile of fries loaded atop a smoky Polish-style kielbasa in a sturdy hot dog bun. It can be found all around the Rock and Roll Capital of the World, but one of the best examples is sold at Banter, a new-school sausage and poutine shop on the near west side.
Regular Coney, Coney I-Lander (Oklahoma)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a long-standing Coney tradition dating back to 1926, when Greek immigrant Christ Economou opened his first hot dog stand, Coney I-Lander. Following in the vein of the spiced meat chili-, mustard- and onion-topped franks found throughout the Midwest, that original stand sticks to the classics. It’s since expanded to seven locations and has spawned countless impersonators, serving slow-grilled franks with all the standards and, for those who please, yellow grated cheese inside a steamed bun.
Corn Dog, The Original Pronto Pup (Oregon)
Though deeply beloved, corn dogs don't have a clear, verified origin story. Some claim that Oregonians George and Vera Boyington invented the corn-battered hot dog sometime during World War II. Whether they did or did not, the Beaver State still has some of the best and most-varied selections of corn dogs in the United States at Rockway Beach's The Original Pronto Pup. Boasting a 30-foot fiberglass hot dog on its roof, the largest corn dog on the planet, this 1941 shack now serves nine different pup variations including vegetarian options like veggie dogs and pickle pups. Plus, it has a new claim to fame, the World's First Riding Mechanical Corndog. Talk about prestigious distinctions.
Texas Tommy, Tony Luke' s (Pennsylvania)
The Philly cheesesteak may be Philadelphia’s best-known claim to Cheez Whiz fame, but that golden liquid isn’t just reserved for thin-sliced steak in Eastern Pennsylvania and its surrounding South Jersey suburbs — it’s also one of the main ingredients of the ubiquitous Texas Tommy, a split-griddled hot dog loaded with bacon and a river of liquid cheese, found on nearly every greasy spoon and neighborhood grill menu in the City of Brotherly Love and beyond. Pick one up at Tony Luke’s, where you’ll get a six-inch all beef dog, split and cooked on a flat top nestled in a toasted roll with two pieces of bacon smothered in Cheez Whiz.
Hot Wiener, Olneyville N.Y. System (Rhode Island)
A Rhode Island staple since the 1940s, hot wieners or New York System wieners are the unofficial frank of the Ocean State. Sort of like a Coney-Chicago dog-sloppy Joe hybrid, this state specialty comes topped with meat sauce, mustard, chopped onion and a dash of celery salt atop a griddled weenie on a steamed side-cut roll. The most-iconic place to get one is Olneyville New York System. With two locations, the fourth-generation-owned shop sells crisp beef-pork-veal dogs topped with all the obligatory ingredients on a plush roll from a nearby Greek bakery. Follow the local tradition by chasing the weenies with coffee milk.
The RiverDog, Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park (South Carolina)
Hot dogs and baseball games go together like birds and bees, chili and cheese, wieners and cole slaw. That last one is nearly obligatory throughout the South, where one would be hard-pressed to find a frankfurter without sweetly dressed cabbage on top. In South Carolina, one of the best slaw dogs is served during Charleston RiverDog games at Joseph P. Riley Junior Park — a.k.a. The Joe — at the Dog House and Dog World concession stands. The team’s eponymous frank, the RiverDog, features an all-beef weenie slathered with slaw, mustard-barbecue sauce and pickled okra. Understandably, more than 5,000 of these delicious puppies are consumed every season.
Hungry Dog, Hungry Dog (South Dakota)
With a name like Hungry Dog, this place practically guarantees it’ll leave diners stuffed. A five-minute drive from the World’s Only Corn Palace, a top tourist destination in South Dakota, Hungry Dog serves a wide variety of franks and weenie-filled sandwiches, like the Philly cheesesteak-frankfurter hybrid, the Philly Dog, or a wiener-and-fried-shrimp Surf n Turf. The most-filling of all is the namesake dog, a fried, bacon-wrapped weenie, beer-battered and fried again and placed on a bun with shaved Ribeye, locally made Dimock Dairy pepperoni cheese and a pile of fries.
Hot Southern Mess, I Dream of Weenie (Tennessee)
This East Nashville VW bus-turned-food truck aims to Southernize the hot dog. It features regional toppings, many of which are made from locally sourced ingredients, atop its weenies. The most-emblematic example of its style is the Hot Southern Mess (or HSM) featuring three Volunteer State staples: creamy coleslaw, house-made pimento cheese and locally made Tennessee hot chow chow, a sweet cabbage-based pickled relish that dates back to old-school country kitchens as a means to preserve the end of season bounty. It’s all sandwiched together with its charcoal-grilled all-beef hot dog within a steamed, locally baked bun.
Rodeo Dog, The Good Dog Houston (Texas)
Expect all-American hot dogs with a Lonestar State twist at this Houston weenie shop. Toppings include fresh guacamole, refried black beans, brown sugar-baked ham, and beef and chorizo chili. One of the top-sellers is the Rodeo Dog, created by Chef-Co-owner Amalia Pferd during Houston’s rodeo season. It features an all-beef dog smothered in creamy cheddar mac & cheese, barbecue sauce, bacon, scallion and parmesan breadcrumbs inside a buttery split-top bun. "It’s everything that is comforting about the south and also a little tangy just like Texas," says Pferd.
Polish Dog, J. Dawg's (Utah)
In 2004, Jayson "J" Edwards pawned his Fender Telecaster guitar to raise enough funds to transform a tiny Provo shack into the site of Utah’s impending hot dog revolution. The ethos is simple, according to Edwards, "That quality meat, a freshly baked bun and our family’s special sauce might not change the world, but it might make you smile." For just $4, locals indulge in simple Polish or beef hot dogs slathered in the sauce that’s been in the family since Edward’s Grandma Marcela clipped a barbecue sauce recipes out of her local paper more than six decades ago. That a sweet and tangy tomato-based brew has garnered a cult-following with at least a few blogs attempted to recreate the formula.
Texas Dog, Handy's Lunch (Vermont)
Vermonters love their chili dogs, but they can’t decide on a name. Depending on where you are in the Green Mountain State, your hot dog covered with chili, chopped raw onions and yellow mustard may be referred to as a Michigans, a Red Hot or a Coney Island. At third-generation-owned Handy’s Lunch in Burlington, the iconic chili dog is called a Texas Dog. The year-round treat includes snappy dogs coated with all the compulsory toppings stuffed inside a classic top-loaded New England-style bun that’s griddled until buttery-crisp on the outside with that signature pillowy interior.
Bánh Mì Dog, Haute Dogs and Fries (Virginia)
The simple hot dog gets a complete makeover at this Alexandria place. All-beef franks are made with natural casings from grass-fed cows reared with no antibiotics or hormones, placed within toasted split-top New England-style buns made fresh and delivered daily by Ottenberg’s Bakery in nearby Washington, D.C. The most popular haute dog is the bánh mì dog, a rainbow of flavors and textures that strikingly impersonates the original sandwich with sliced jalapenos, matchsticks carrots and cucumber, fresh cilantro and hearty, twisty squeeze of sriracha mayo.
Seattle Dog, Monster Dogs (Washington)
Seattle’s signature dog is kind of like a cheese dog but also somewhat like a bagel. The city is known for grilled franks, split in half and slathered with cream cheese stuffed inside a bun. Anything goes in the topping department, but grilled onions, jalapenos and grilled cabbage tend to be available at all Seattle dog haunts. Monster Dogs, a Capitol Hill cart, is hailed by many as the best in town with some of the longest lines to prove it. There, the franks are steamed before they’re tossed on the grill, split in the middle and cradled inside a cream cheese-coated bun that’s been toasted on the grill. A simple garnish of caramelized onions tops it off.
Homewrecker, Hillbilly Hotdogs (West Virginia)
Hillbilly Hotdogs may not have the biggest sign, weenie statue or a mechanical bull corn dog, but it has one thing no other hot dog stand does: an onsite wedding chapel. For real. The restaurant — two school buses backed up to a shed — is a local obsession due to its gourmet dogs covered with things like kimchi and truffles. Its classic West Virginia Dog is like the state’s captain of the frankfurter team, a deep-fried weenie paired with slaw, mustard, chili sauce and chopped onion in a split-top bun. While the latter is the most-popular order, the place is best known for its whopping 15-inch Homewrecker, a gut-busting take on the Mountain State favorite with added chile peppers, cheese and other belt-unbuckling toppings.
Bratwurst, Charcoal Inn (Wisconsin)
Found at every restaurant, bar, butcher shop and home barbecue, the bratwurst is the food most-associated with America’s Dairyland — other than cheese in pure or fried curd form. To get a true taste of the German-style sausage, head to the Bratwurst Capital of the World, Sheboygan, where places like Charcoal Inn dole out the "double with the works," two brats squeezed side-by-side on an oversized hard roll with mustard, onions, pickles and ketchup.
Buffalo Brat, Pitchfork Fondue (Wyoming)
Ever wonder how cowboys ate their hot dogs? Straight off the tines of a pitchfork, sizzling hot from bubbling cauldrons of oil heated by wood fire, if you ask the folks at Pitchfork Fondue. Offering prime views of the Wind River Mountains, this Pinedale spot is one of the most popular places to experience a western cookout in the Cowboy State. While most places grill their meats over an open flame, these guys prefer to deep fry their steak, chicken, potato chips and onion rings. And each all-inclusive meal begins with buffalo brats cooked the same way as well as regular old deep fried hot dogs for kids — in actual age or mental maturity — upon request.