David's Kosher is an interesting new hot dog brand that seems to be pushing the "healthy"—or at least "gluten free, uncured, natural"—angle, along with the kosher and regional Chicago angle. These all-beef franks basically taste like a fusion between a New York-style Hebrew National and a milder Chicago Vienna Beef dog. I tested them out with a couple different methods and various levels of toppings.
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I was a bit skeptical of Hot Diggity's February special, as I am of many reimagined, fancied-up regional hot dogs. Messing with something like the New Jersey Italian Hot Dog or "NJIHD" —a north Jersey thing, land of the most hard-core hot dog purists in the country—is dangerous. Jersey-style pizza bread made by an organic artisan pizza place in Philadelphia? But guess what? It works.
The other weekend I made it to Hobbs, a coffee shop right outside of Philadelphia, for their one-night only Hot Dog Jamboree. Chef William Randall puts out some really impressive food from a tiny coffeehouse kitchen and recently became hot dog obsessed, whipping up eight different hot dog specials for the event, and even road-tripped into Jersey to source some of the country's best frankfurters.
When some friends recently came back from New Hampshire, I was expecting maybe a can of Moxie, but not a hot dog package complete with several brands of natural casing New England dogs (stowed in an ice packed cooler) along with a pack of top-split buns. Amazing. These dogs are very, very red too thanks to some artificial dye.
The hot dog purist in me wants to hate this sort of thing, and really how many carb-on-carb stomach bombs topped with stuffing and mashed potatoes can you eat, but I'm always surprised by how inventive and truly tasty these things are every year. This year's crop of Thanksgiving-inspired dogs was created with even more finesse and balance. Sure, some of them are pushing the "hot dog" definition, they still look so damn good.
I found the hot dog holy grail at Net Cost, an Eastern European superstore in northeast Philly (with several outlets in Brooklyn) that has more natural casing hot dog brands than I've ever seen in one place, not to mention a selection of cured and smoked meats that rivals anything I've ever seen in my life. Take a hot dog tour of the supermarket with me!
I've tasted and written about almost every different Greek-rooted hot dog sauce in the country here on Hot Dog of the Week from Cincinnati to Detroit, New York to Alabama. But one glaring omission from my regional meat sauce knowledge was Rochester Beef Hot Sauce, an integral ingredient of Rochester's famous Garbage Plate, and also an essential topping for Rochester's local Zweigle's Dogs, split and flat-grilled, covered in sauce and known as Texas Hots or simply Hots.
This year for National Hot Dog Month, Philadelphia's South Street / Headhouse Square district held its very first annual week-long Dog Days Of Summer celebration, which included a hot dog topping contest where 15 contestants, chosen from a pool of more than 30, presented their wild creations. A Shakshuka Dog, an Elvis Dog, an Icelandic-inspired one with fried onions, and many more.
I was surprised to find that Michigans aren't the obscure forgotten dog I thought they were. Literally from the Canadian border (and even into Canada, although they are different) all the way down to Lake Placid, you can grab a "Michigan"—even a vegetarian version—from almost any roadside stand, diner, or gas station.
When most people think "hot dog relish," the first thing that comes to mind is the sweet, green pickle relish you find at the grocery store. And in a lot of places this's exactly what you'll get if you ask for relish on a frankfurter. But there's a lot of areas and unique hot dog joints where "relish" has nothing to do with pickles. And like everything else with hot dogs, relish loyalties are fierce.
Call it chow-chow, mustard slaw, or pool-room slaw, all of these start out with some combination of cabbage, bell peppers, onions, mustard, vinegar, sugar and sometimes carrots or hot peppers—but they all taste wildly different. Here are our favorites.
You might have read about Midtown Manhattan's cutthroat pizza price wars on Slice or in The New York Times, but until getting off a Megabus a few weeks ago, I had no idea that hot dogs were also involved.
Pauly Dogs opened for business outside of Duke's campus almost 15 years ago, a crazy hot dog cart run by former bartender and pizzeria cook Paul Konstanzer. Since moving to Duke's West Campus Plaza in 2007—along with other carts like Locopops and the Carribean Kitchen—Pauly has established a loyal cult following with 52 (and growing!) varieties of hot dogs and hundreds of toppings.
There are plenty of brand new, amazing and/or totally insane hot dog monstrosities at the ballparks all over the country this season. Many of them are deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, four-foot-long mutant hot dogs, while other concoctions are more locally inspired, like the Provel Cheese topped dog in St. Louis. Check out these dogs.
There were a few signs right off the bat that this stuff was going to be good. Getting yelled at for taking pictures, and being asked "that's it?" with a sad frown after ordering "only" several pounds of Kielbasa and Kabanosy.
Spring is here again which means the beginning of baseball season, which also means the unofficial start of hot dog season. It's time to highlight the really cool spots outside the Major League Baseball ballparks where you can grab a dog or sausage before or after the game, for a lot less money and a real taste of whatever city you're in.
The Ikea Dog, officially known as the Swedish Meal Time Dog, starts with Hot Diggity's standard base of a toasted Liscio's oversized hot dog bun, lined with two pieces of bibb lettuce tossed in lemon vinaigrette. Next is the grilled all-beef Sabrett's dog topped with rock shrimp salad made with mayo, sour cream and tarragon. Finished off with fresh dill, fried potato sticks, and a handful of salmon roe. CAVIAR. On a hot dog. And it works.
The food at Frank is just as awesome as the concept, where about half of the artisan sausages are made in-house. The Jackalope is one of the most popular, but they also do all sorts of weekly specials like the Venison Corn Dog and the In-and-Out tribute Animal Style dog, an all-beef Vienna topped with grilled onions, American cheese, iceberg and Thousand Island dressing, only available during SXSW.
Maui's Dog House has been quietly serving hot dogs at their family-run stand in Wildwood, New Jersey, for over ten years now. At least until Guy Fieri showed up and put them on the "Flavortown" map, quadrupling their business overnight. Having never visited the original, I was excited to hear they were opening a new location smack in the middle of Center City Philadelphia.
The next time you're in hot dog territory, wash down your dog with a can of Grapico, Moxie, a "Boston Cooler" or maybe even an ice cold mug of delicious fresh buttermilk. Some of these pairings are, yes, very strange.