The Year In Hot Dogs
Let's take a look at 2010 in tubular meat.
New Jersey Italian Hot Dog
I finally got to Jersey to try the famous Newark style Italian Hot Dog, and my mind is blown. Deep-fried dogs stuffed into bakery fresh pizza bread (only found in North Jersey) then jammed with cooked peppers and onions and piled with deep fried potato medallions.
Jimmy Buff's in East Hanover is the original, and most well-known—but I also found a killer Italian Hot Dog further south at Joe-Joe's in Tom's River, New Jersey.
Jimmy Buff's: 354 New Jersey 10, East Hanover NJ 07936; jimmybuff.com
Joe Joe's Italian Hot Dogs: Coolidge Avenue & Route 37 East, Toms River NJ 08753;
Joe Joe's website
Another Jersey legend, Rutt's Hut is an awesome roadhouse bar and hot dog stand that's been cranking out deep-fried Thumann hot dogs for decades. The housemade cabbage relish is the perfect cool, refreshing counterpoint to the salty, crispy fried hot dog.
Rutt's Hut: 417 River Road, Clifton NJ 07014
Blackie's Hot Dog Stand
Connecticut is another state known for deep-fried hot dogs. Blackie's opened as a gas station in the 1920s serving up local Hummel Bros franks covered in housemade "hot relish" and mustard. No onions, no kraut, not even french fries.
For more Blackie's check out this clip from A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour, a 2009 documentary featuring 10 different Connecticut hot dog stands.
Blackies: 2200 Waterbury Road, Cheshire Connecticut 06410; blackieshotdogs.com; Closed Fridays
Famous Lunch is an awesome old-school lunch counter in Troy, New York, known for their mini hot dogs. These tiny dogs are about three-inches long, made by nearby Helmbold's and served on custom buns fresh from a local bakery.
Four dogs and a soda is $3, the dogs slathered in mustard and Famous Lunch's signature "Zippy Sauce," a super spicy, thinly ground chili.
111 Congress Street, Troy NY 12180;
Nicky & Pete's Famous Hot Dogs
Nicky & Pete's is my new favorite hot dog joint in my hometown of Philadelphia. It's a tiny storefront doing old-school Philly style hot dogs: split and grilled, served on short and stout club rolls, with plenty of Cheese Whiz.
A great place to try the infamous "Philly Combo," a hot dog and potato fish cake on the same roll, preferably garnished with sweet pepper hash and mustard.
Nicky & Pete's Famous Hot Dogs: 349 N. 64th Street, Philadelphia PA 19139
Fat Franks is an amazing small town semi-locavore hot dog joint that makes all their toppings from scratch as well as fresh-cut fries.
The dogs are natural casing, spicy Boston Smokehouse franks; grilled or steamed to your preference with any combination of toppings, all piled into those delicious New England split-top buns.
Located in Bellows Falls, Vermont, they also have great burgers, veggie versions of everything, and a terrific selection of microbrews and even Belgian beers.
Fat Franks: 92 Rockingham Street, Bellows Falls VT 05101; fat-franks.com
At first glance, Brooklyn's artisanal hot dog boutique Bark might look too fancy for the hardcore hot-dogger. But these lard-basted Hartmann's natural casing dogs are the best example of "haute dogs" I've had so far.
Dropped into lightly toasted top-split buns, Bark's dogs are delicately topped with all sorts of house-made toppings. I'm not usually a fan of beans on hot dogs, but Bark's bacon-braised (for 12 hours!) baked beans won me over.
Bark: 474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn NY 11217; barkhotdogs.com
Torta De Salchicha
This berserk Mexican hot dog sandwich came from Puebla Mini-Mart in Brooklyn. Two hot dogs, ham, bacon, jalapenos, fried egg, cheese, and avocado might sound like a mess, but this was one of the cleanest and best tortas I've ever had, full of fresh ingredients all held together with lightly toasted bread, pressed almost like a Cuban.
Puebla Mini Mart: 3908 5th Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11232
Colombian Perro Caliente
Speaking of crazy hot dogs, Colombian fast-food dogs might still be the most insane I've ever had. We stopped at four Colombian hot dog joints in Jackson Heights, Queens, scarfing down hot dogs covered in a delirious array of toppings including pineapple, bacon, ham, cheese, grilled onions, hard boiled eggs, crushed chips and a crisscross of fruity, bright pink and green mayonnaise based sauces.
My favorite was Perro Veloz, a tiny neon green storefront that didn't go overboard with the toppings and had some interesting combinations—finishing their dogs with a dusting of panko-like, finely crushed potato chips.
Perro Veloz: 80-26 Northern Blvd, Queens New York 11372
Toronto Street Meat
Toronto has a bizarre but thriving hot dog scene, with scores of street vendors that grill cheap hot dogs lovingly known as "street meat" by locals. Veggie dogs and all varieties of sausage are also popular, topped with random ingredients: bacon bits, mushrooms, hot peppers, corn relish, all lined up in self-serve containers along with a selection of sauces.
Part of this tradition is due to strange local health department laws—where anything that requires refrigeration is illegal—although some vendors supposedly keep mayonnaise and shredded cheese "under the counter."
Cleveland's claim to encased meat fame looks brutal, but the Polish Boy is much more than just another shock-value meat overkill sandwich. An incredible combination of the city's Southern barbecue and Eastern European traditions. The best one I had was from Freddie's Rib House. The kielbasa was smoked for hours and loaded with fries, creamy slaw and super sweet barbecue sauce. Or try a "Polish Girl" with an added pile of barbecue pork shoulder.
Freddie's Rib House: 1431 Saint Clair Avenue NE, Cleveland OH 44114
Seti's Polish Boys: Dean Supply Parking Lot, 3500 Woodland Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115
Last but not least is the Alligator Coney. Northern Kentucky is Cincinnati Chili territory, but only Dixie Chili serves this slight riff on the standard cheese-and-chili loaded Coney Dog.
This tiny grilled frank with a spear of dill pickle, mayonnaise, and big mound of shredded cheese was surprisingly good, a nice crunch from the pickle that tasted great with mayo and cheese—sort of like a hot dog deli sandwich. Delicious.
Dixie Chili: 3716 Dixie Highway, Erlanger KY; dixiechili.com