24 Over-the-Top Hot Dogs
Nacho cheese sauce, kimchi, black truffle aioli — anything is fair game when it comes to topping the wieners at these creatively minded hot dog spots.
Photo By: Katie Sikora Photography
Photo By: MISUNHAN
Photo By: Boka Restaurant Group
Photo By: Joe Vaughn
Photo By: David L. Reamer
Photo By: Alaine Whitmire with Tastebuds61
Photo By: Anthony Tahlier
Photo By: Jackie Alpers
Photo By: Kathleen Gilbert
Bacon Werewolf Dog at Dat Dog, New Orleans
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of toppings available at this NOLA joint — the 30-plus options include crawfish etouffee and blackberry sauce. You could ask for the chef’s choice or choose one of their Haute Dogs like the Bacon Werewolf, a lightly smoky Slovenian sausage that’s topped with bacon, sauerkraut, dill relish, grilled onions, chopped tomatoes and Creole mustard.
The Abe Froman at Swizzler in Arlington, Virginia
Can you teach a dog new tricks? The owners of food truck Swizzler seemed to think so when they took the beloved hot dog and traded in the mystery-meat version for a grass-fed beef variety. They also took liberties with the toppings and partnered with a local bakery for the buns. The truck has such a major following that a brick-and-mortar location will open in the fall. A favorite menu item is the Abe Froman, named after the fictional "sausage king of Chicago" — thanks, Ferris Bueller. This dog is topped with a bright cucumber-and-herb relish, fried bread-and-butter pickles, grape tomatoes, chopped white onions and Sir Kensington’s mustard, all stuffed into a pretzel bun.
Flame Dog at Scooter's World Famous Dawg House, Mentor, Ohio
This roadside stop — on the way to the beach — is open only seasonally, but when its door swings open each spring people flock there for fresh-cut fries and hot dogs aplenty. The Flame Dog combines a few favorite late-night indulgences; it’s a hot dog topped with creamy cheese sauce, crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, jalapenos and a drizzle of ranch dressing to cool it all down.
Fried Egg Style Gang Nam Dog at Buldogis, Las Vegas
Korean and American food favorites unite at this Las Vegas hot dog joint that takes its name from two popular foods — "Buldogis" is a mash-up of "bulgogi" and "hot dog." The menu follows suit, topping the all-American hot dog with Korean ingredients, as with the Gang Nam Dog (with optional fried egg), a quarter-pound beef dog with roast pork belly, cucumber, nori flakes, sesame seeds and Korean chile sauce.
The Musketeer at Kings of Kobe, New York
Hot dogs may be an atypical brunch food, but then again, everything at this New York City joint is a bit atypical. Using all-wagyu dogs and ingredients you’d often find in more upscale restaurants — burrata, lobster, aged cheddar — this place has redefined the hot dog eating experience. So, a brunch dog it is. This one is a fried wagyu dog topped with all of your favorite morning fixins: scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes (in the form of battered french fries) and sriracha aioli just to make sure you’re awake.
MacDill Dog at Datz, Tampa, Florida
Come hungry to this comfort-food haven. The MacDill Dog is two meals in one — a half-pound all-beef frank with bacon- and jalapeno-infused macaroni and cheese. As if that weren’t enough, it’s sprinkled with a few pickled jalapenos and pieces of bacon before being stuffed it into a giant hoagie roll. Even the housemade chips that come on the side are decadent: sweet and salty, topped with a blue cheese drizzle and chopped green onions.
The Pickleback at Hurricane's at the Garden, Boston
Just steps from the TD Garden is this sports bar serving up twists on pregame classics like burgers and pizzas. Prepare for heat in the hot dog section, because the Pickleback packs a punch, topping a quarter-pound hot dog with bright green jalapeno puree, a hefty drizzle of spicy mayo and plenty of crisp pickles for added bite.
Chicago Steak Dog at Dutch and Doc's, Chicago
About 500 feet from Wrigley Field, Dutch and Doc’s is a great hot dog option for those without Cubs tickets. The menu is full of upscale riffs on popular bar food (along with pastas, steaks and other dishes), but on game day they bring out the big dogs, their version of the Chicago hot dog. Chef Chris Pandel saves the steak trimmings from his cows in Nebraska (the source of steaks for his other restaurant, Swift & Sons) to turn into steak hot dogs. He tucks each dog into a local Aya Bakery poppy seed bun and tops it with the appropriate Chicago-style toppings — sweet pickle relish, pickled sport peppers, yellow mustard, chopped onions, tomato, a dill pickle spear and a sprinkling of celery salt.
Oh Canadog at Hot Diggity Dogs, Birmingham, Alabama
Our neighbors to the north were onto something when they created the gloriousness that is poutine, so the proprietors of this Southern hot dog joint decided to pay homage to that dish in their own way. They freshly make their gravy each morning to pour over hot dogs topped with crisp fries, cheese curds and finely chopped onions.
The Sunny at Short Leash Hotdogs, Phoenix
What started as a food truck in the Phoenix area morphed into a successful three-truck, two-shop business that’s all about the love of dogs — both puppies and hot dogs. Each of the hot dogs is named after a customer’s pooch and wrapped in naan instead of the typical bun. Choices include gourmet dogs like the Sunny, a chicken hot dog topped with prosciutto, grilled peaches (or pears in the off season), locally made goat cheese, arugula and a drizzle of honey. For a sweet treat, Short Leash offers Rollover Doughnuts, which are brioche doughnuts made from scratch.
Humm Dog at NoMad Bar, New York
If acclaimed chef Daniel Humm is going to put his name on a hot dog, you know it has to be filled with only the finest ingredients. This decadent dog is wrapped in bacon and topped with melted Gruyere cheese. It is then topped with a celery relish with mustard seeds and a bit of black truffle. For a final flourish, it gets a dollop of truffle mayonnaise before it lands comfortably in a rich and buttery brioche bun.
Fat Boy at Hank's Haute Dogs, Honolulu
Henry Adaniya is no stranger to hot dogs: Before moving to Hawaii he was a restaurateur in Chicago (where he owned Trio, best known for launching famed chef Grant Achatz). There he saw the beauty of what Doug Sohn did with Hot Doug’s (now closed), and he ventured to create his own haute dogs in Hawaii. The menu ranges from classic Chicago dogs and chili dogs to the extreme Fat Boy, a bacon-wrapped dog that’s deep-fried and topped with lettuce, tomato slices and mayonnaise.
Gangnam Style at Doug’s Delight, Hazel Park, Michigan
When this neighborhood snack shack closed, the team behind Mabel Gray bought it, revamped it and put a chef’s twist on it. Snacks are still the draw, with a menu of both savory and sweet delights designed by Chef James Rigato and Pastry Chef Kristina Conger. Six dogs grace the menu, from plain to creative, including the Korean-inspired Gangnam Style — a local Dearborn hot dog topped with Kewpie mayo, kimchi, scallions, spicy peanuts and hard-boiled eggs.
Reuben Dog at Olympia Provisions Public House, Portland, Oregon
Portland’s Olympia Provisions is known for its gourmet crafted meats, so when the folks here create a hot dog, it’s bound to be delicious. This version is a mash-up of a Reuben sandwich and a hot dog, taking a Kasekrainer — an applewood-smoked pork hot dog studded with Emmenthal cheese — and crowning it with Reubenesque toppings like capicola ham, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.
Doginator at Dirty Frank's, Columbus, Ohio
There are close to 50 hot dog selections at this northern Ohio hot dog palace, but if you really want to go over the top, check out the Viva Baconia! section for the bacon-wrapped dogs. The Doginator is a beast: It starts with a bacon-wrapped hot dog, which is then layered with beef brisket and topped with shredded cheese, barbecue sauce and a few golden onion rings.
Tideflats at The Red Hot, Tacoma, Washington
Killer brews and killer dogs make up most of the menu at this Pacific Northwest spot. You can get your pick of the classics or the creative — or the Tideflats, which pretty much is a monstrosity of it all. Two all-beef hot dogs are served open-faced on a steamed poppy seed bun with classic toppings like mustard, ketchup, onions and sweet relish. Sport peppers, pickled jalapenos and sauerkraut are added before housemade chili, nacho cheese sauce and housemade Southern slaw are piled on and it’s all finished off with a pickle spear and a dash of the house seasoning.
The Homewrecker at Hillbilly Hot Dogs, Lesage, West Virginia
There's a whole lot of fun at this husband-and-wife-owned hot dog stand that goes beyond the frankfurters. For starters, it has a theme song ("The Weenie Song"), and a wedding chapel on-site! Try any of their dogs, but they'll dare you to face up against the Homewrecker, a 15-inch, one-pound all-beef hot dog that is slopped with two pounds of toppings -- jalapenos, habaneros, sauteed peppers and onions, nacho cheese, chili sauce, mustard, lettuce, tomato, slaw and shredded cheese. If you can tackle that bad boy in under 12 minutes, you'll go home with a T-shirt.
Blue Galactic Dog at Jack's Cosmic Dogs, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
When in the South, a slaw dog is a must, and this hot dog stand puts the perfect out-of-this-world twist on it. This shining star is the Blue Galactic — a hot dog that’s a blend of pork and beef, topped with housemade beanless chili and cheese sauce, then covered with the signature blue cheese slaw and topped off with the sweet potato mustard this spot has become so well known for. The menu may be playfully futuristic, but the old-fashioned hot dog stand will keep you stationed for the Moonpie Magic sundae.
Trailer Park at Senate Pub, Cincinnati
These aren’t your average roadhouse dogs, but they are just as delicious. Senate takes a gourmet yet lighthearted approach to its dogs, with quirky names and a few celeb shout-outs — hello, Lindsay Lohan. (There’s even a Senate cookbook that will show you how to make the dogs at home.) A favorite is the Trailer Park, an all-beef hot dog topped with applewood bacon and melted American cheese. On top is a hearty mound of coleslaw topped with crumbled Grippos, locally made BBQ chips.
Back Yard BBQ at Steve's Hot Dogs, St. Louis
Steve’s is the place for hot dogs in the Gateway City and is known for fun and creative takes on the classic. One of the best ideas came from a conversation with one of Steve’s very first customers, about backyard barbecues. Steve decided to take all of the customer’s favorite barbecue items and put them on a hot dog; thus the Back Yard BBQ Dog was born. The dog is smoked at a low temperature and then grilled over a high flame. It’s then topped with housemade baked beans flavored with the liquid smoke used for the hot dogs, a scoop of potato salad, chopped smoked bacon and a drizzle of BBQ sauce. It’s all stuffed into a bun made especially for Steve’s by across-the-street neighbor Vitale’s Bakery.
Jake the Ripper at Jake Melnick's, Chicago
It’s not just the hot wings that draw people to this Chicago mainstay; it’s also Jake’s take on the hot dog. The Jake the Ripper is a spicy hot dog, a local Makowski hot link that’s wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon. It’s topped with pico de gallo, black beans and a chipotle-lime crema before being stuffed into a sausage roll. Be prepared for a mess, or bring out the fork and knife (and a napkin!) — you’ll need them.
Slawsky and Hutch at Blue Rooster, Portland, Maine
Familiar flavors are redefined at this Portland eatery, including sandwiches, kicked-up tots and of course plenty of hot dogs. The dogs -- a combination of beef and pork in a natural casing -- come from Maine Family Farms and are topped with a variety of creative combinations. A favorite is the Slawsky and Hutch, made with Blue Rooster's own beef chili, a housemade Brussels sprout slaw, brown mustard and a few Tater Tots for some crunch, all stuffed into a New England-style hot dog bun from local bakery Mainly Grains.
Sonoran Hot Dog at El Guero Canelo, Tucson, Arizona
Perhaps one of the original over-the-top hot dogs, the Sonoran is imitated across the country but remains the most authentic in its hometown of Tucson. El Guero Canelo’s version, served in a bolillo, is wrapped in bacon and topped with a hearty scoop of pinto beans, tomatoes and onions before it gets drizzled with ketchup, mustard, mayo and jalapeno sauce across the top.
Gut Punch at Tin Roof, Charleston, South Carolina
When a music-and-comedy venue also serves as a neighborhood bar and hot dog joint, creativity reigns supreme. This woman-owned spot serves some stellar dogs with a side of tots and housemade banana pepper aioli. The Gut Punch hot dog is essentially a Frito pie in a bun (one from local bakery Pane di Vita): a massive kosher all-beef hot dog topped with housemade chili and pimento cheese, jalapenos, diced onions — and Fritos, of course.