Arkansas Travelers - Hot Dog Mike
If you find yourself at an Arkansas Travelers game, or in Little Rock for any reason, try to track down Hot Dog Mike, one of the most colorful cart guys in the country. Originally from New Jersey, Mike worked in hotels and even as a DJ before settling down in Little Rock and opening his stand about two years ago - selling the sort of wild gourmet dogs you wouldn't expect from a cart, like this "Wing a Ding Dog" topped with blue cheese slaw. Scoot over to this other slideshow from Arkansas Times to check out the full arsenal of Hot Dog Mike's offerings.
New Britain Rock Cats - Capitol Lunch
A few miles down the road from the home of the Rock Cats - affiliate of the Minnesota Twins - is one of your best options in Connecticut for a chili dog, or actually a "dog with the works" as they call it, insisting that their "secret recipe" meat sauce is not chili at all. The famous cappy sauce is ladled onto grilled natural casing Martin Rosol's frankfurts, made literally right down the street.
Montgomery Biscuits - Chris's Hot Dogs
I don't know how I missed this place last time I was in Alabama. Only a few blocks from the Tampa Bay Rays affiliated Montgomery, Alabama Biscuits' stadium, Chris's hot dogs - open since 1917 - serves up these crazy dogs that could best be described as the famous Birmingham Special Dog on crack. Loaded into a soft bun with kraut, mustard, onions, "special sauce" (ask for extra), a slice of cheese, and oh yeah a hot dog somewhere underneath.
Las Vegas 51's - Cheffini's Hot Dogs
Las Vegas has not always been known as a hot dog hot spot, but not too far from the Vegas 51's ballpark is a newer stand called Cheffini's, a late night cart that serves Hebrew National all beef dogs South American style - topped with jalapeños, tomatoes, mozzarella, potato sticks and sweet homemade sauces. Cheffini's dogs are only 3 bucks and served on extra long 7" rolls to hold in all the toppings, or order one "underdog style" (toppings under the dog) to combat the mess.
Altoona Curve - Texas Hot Dogs
Down the road from the Pittsburgh Pirate affiliated Altoona Curve ballpark is one of two identically named Texas Hot Dog restaurants in the small city of Altoona Pennsylvania. This one on 58th Street was my favorite, with super messy dogs loaded with chili, cheese sauce, and super finely diced onions, all steamed together in wax paper to marry the flavors. Killer onion rings too.
Texas Hot Dogs: 101 58th Street Altoona, PA (map) (814) 942-9992
New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Dube Dogs N More
Just a few blocks from the Fisher Cats in Manchester, New Hampshire lives a really interesting cart called Dube Dogs. Owner Marc Dube serves Old Neighborhood brand natural casing dogs from Massachusetts that are first steamed then finished off on a grill - sounds great so far. Toppings are fairly standard until you get to "Jambalaya Fridays" where you can try Marc's homemade Jambalaya, served in a Syrian bread bowl or on top of the frank resulting in the world's only Jambalaya Dog.
Newark Bears - Jimmy Buff's
With several teams and so many great hot dogs, New Jersey was a tough state to pick a spot for. But you can never go wrong with Jimmy Buff's. Their West Orange location is a few miles from the Newark Bears (who are in a Canadian League? huh?) and their Italian Hot Dog - deep fried, all beef Best brand dogs, topped with fried potato coins, peppers and onions, and stuffed into North Jersey pizza bread - is still one of the best regional hot dog variations I've ever had. Also nearby is Dickie Dee's, another great spot for NJIHD's (New Jersey Italian Hot Dogs).
San Jose Giants - Mark's Hot Dogs
An old-school stand near the San Jose Giants ballfield, Mark's sounds like one of those places that can only exist in California - surly carhop service, a kitchen in the shape of a giant orange, and awesome dogs topped with chili or the signature "Everything Dog" topped with fresh tomato, onions and relish - similar to Caspar's in the East Bay. The snappy natural casing dogs at one time came from the nearby Stephen's Meat Products, now closed. Not sure where they're getting them these days but they're still natural casing which is a good thing.
Mark's Hot Dogs: 48 South Capitol Avenue, San Jose, CA (map); (408) 926-0923
Memphis Redbirds - Dyer's
Mere blocks away from the St. Louis Cardinals affiliated Redbirds ballpark is Dyer's, Memphis' most famous burger joint known for their patties deep fried in 100 year old grease. Dyer's also serves up a crazy good split and deep-fried hot dog, served on a grease-dunked Wonder Bread bun with a simple mustard / pickle / raw onion garnish. Amazing.
New Orleans Zephyrs - Bud's Broiler
While we're on the subject of split hot dogs on burger buns, here's another awesome looking one from Bud's Broiler, an old-school burger and dog shack close to the New Orleans Zephyrs. Bud's dogs are cooked over charcoal and topped burger style with your choice of chili, cheese, mayonnaise, relish, or Bud's signature hickory smoked sauce.
Salem Red Sox - Ol Mule Hot Dog Company
This Boston Red Sox affiliate in Salem, Virginia (not Massachusetts), is just down the road from a neat little stand known as the Ol Mule Hot Dog Company. Father (local BBQ competition champion) and son (recent Johnson & Wales graduate) owners Bobby and Craig Morris recently bought the place, along with the chili and slaw recipes, doing traditional southern dogs on top-split buns along with roast beef subs, hush puppies, and even homemade pies and cakes.
West Virginia Power - Swiftwater Cafe
Just a few blocks from Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia, you'll find the best dogs in the downtown area at this whitewater-rafting themed restaurant, at least according to West Virginia hot dog expert Stanton of the West Virginia Hot Dog Blog. Mild but decent chili, fresh tasting slaw, and really unique for this part of the country - high quality Boar's Heads franks.
Tucson Padres - El Guero Canelo
If you're seeing a ballgame in Tucson, El Guero Canelo - widely recognized to make the best Sonoran Dogs this side of Mexico - is the place to be. The dogs are bacon-wrapped, grilled, stuffed into bolillo rolls and topped with all sorts of Mexican goodness. Aqui Con El Nene, a little further from the stadium, also makes a great Sonoran dog.
Oklahoma City Red Hawks - Coney Island
A few blocks from the Astros affiliated Red Hawks is the sort of old-school "Coney" joint that's pretty rare in the midwest, although Oklahoma has a handful of these places in Tulsa (where the dogs are tiny) and two or three in Oklahoma City including this one. Along with chili covered steamed dogs, the "Original Coney Island" serves cold beer, frito pie and Cincinnati-style chili covered spaghetti, quite possibly the furthest point west (and closest to Texas) that you'll find this type of Greek spiced hot dog chili.
Coney Island: 428 West Main Street, Oklahoma City OK (map); (405) 239-8568
Tri City Valley Cats - Famous Lunch
A couple miles from the Valley Cats ballpark you'll find the Famous Lunch, one of a handful of hot dog joints in the capitol region that serves tiny, almost cocktail frank sized dogs on tiny buns loaded with onions, mustard, and super spicy paprika-rich "zippy sauce". Famous Lunch is an awesome old school lunch counter where you can buy these things by the dozen for something like 63 cents a piece. Also great rice pudding.
Sacramento River Cats - Hot Dog Lady
Not exactly hot dog central, Sacramento seems to agree on one thing when it comes to hot dogs - the Hot Dog Lady. Not to be confused with Burlington, Vermont's semi-famous, retired Hot Dog Lady this one sets up on 9th & Capitol, not too far from Raley Field, offering long and skinny standard dogs, all-beef jumbo dogs, Polish sausage and a variety of toppings.
Fort Myers Miracle - What's Up Dogs
Part hot dog restaurant, part biker rave karoake night club owned by a former model, it's hard not to imagine this place in an episode of Eastbound & Down. What's Up Dogs is a wild spot to check out if you're in the area for a game or any other reason. The dogs look pretty damn good too - they use Vienna Beef dogs from Chicago (with veggie options as well) and do everything from the classic chicago dog to a Colombian dog topped with pineapple, mustard, mayo, ketchup and potato sticks, and something called a sloppy joe dog.