America is big. Its flavors are diverse. Why, even the quintessential American treat, the hot dog, is affected by geography. Regions are defined by their cuisine, as evidenced by their choice of hot dog toppings. Covered in chili? Detroit is for you! Adorned with onions? Head to New York! Here’s a look at what sets these hot dog destinations apart:
Chicago-style hot dogs date back to the Great Depression and whether you prefer Vienna Beef or Red Hot Chicago franks, the toppings don’t change. Hot dogs are topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt on a poppy seed bun.
Try it: Superdawg | Chicago, IL
Superdawg’s iconic neon hot dogs, Maurie and Flaurie (named after the original owners, whose family runs it to this day), have stood atop the restaurant since it first opened in 1948. Order a Superdawg or Whoopskidawg (Polish sausage) and have it delivered to your window carhop-style.
Coney Islands are restaurants that specialize in serving Coney Island hot dogs. These beef hot dogs, which originated in Michigan, not New York, are topped with all-meat, no-beans chili, diced onion and yellow mustard. But don’t confuse them with chili dogs – the onion and mustard sets these Detroit dogs apart.
Try it: American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island | Detroit, MI
American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island are located right next door to each other and have been competing for customers for almost a century! Most are loyal to one or the other; both are delicious.
Coleslaw is a popular topping for hot dogs throughout the state of Georgia. Whether you prefer just the slaw or a hot dog combination of chili topped with slaw, it’s a unique flavor not readily found in other parts of the country.
Try it: Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs | Marietta, GA
Though it underwent a name change a decade ago, this hot dog spot has been satisfying locals for over 30 years. Brandi’s slaw dog is topped with their signature chili, mustard, onions and, of course, coleslaw.
New Yorkers love hot dogs and there are countless places to get them. There are also many ways to serve them up; one of the most popular is with mustard, sauerkraut and stewed onions (sweet onions in a tomato-based sauce).
Try it: Katz’s Delicatessen | New York, NY
Katz’s was founded in 1888 in New York’s Lower East Side. They specialize in pastrami, corned beef and natural casing all-beef hot dogs covered in chili or sauerkraut. The deli has been featured in countless movies, including When Harry Met Sally, when a Katz’s patron told her waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Sonoran-style hot dogs found in Tucson and Phoenix actually originated in the State of Sonora in northwest Mexico. Hot dogs are wrapped in bacon and cooked on a comal, a cast iron griddle often used to prepare tortillas. They are topped with any combination of beans, onions (both fresh AND grilled), tomatoes, mayonnaise, salsa and mustard, and are usually served in a bolillo, a Mexican-style baguette baked in a stone oven.
Try it: BK Carne Asada | Tucson, AZ
BK Carne Asada has been serving up Sonoran-style hot dogs for twenty years. BK beat out neighboring El Güero Canelo for best Sonoran hot dog on Travel Channel’s Food Wars. While the majority of the menu items are cooked inside the restaurant in an actual kitchen, hot dogs are prepared at an outdoor food cart on their patio, a nod to the restaurant’s former incarnation as a humble taco stand.
Whatever your preference, one thing most of us agree on, is that ketchup does not belong on a hot dog. What are your favorite destinations and restaurants for hot dogs? What did we miss?