Baseball season is here again, which at Serious Eats also means Hot Dog Season. Many people are familiar with classic ballpark dogs like the Fenway Frank and Dodger Dog, but this year the stadiums have gone berserk, reaching new level of hot dog madness, introducing multiple signature dogs alongside the old favorites.
Meat on meat insanity is big this year, with the Cincinnati Reds' bacon-wrapped, deep-fried Meat Lover's Dog topped with chili and garnished with crispy fried salami. The Orioles have a brand new pit beef and pepperoni topped Birdland Dog, while other parks are topping hot dogs with pulled pork, barbecue sauce drowned brisket or cheesesteak meat, most of which are also wrapped in bacon and possibly topped with Fritos.
Oh and if you're curious, many of these dogs are available on gluten-free buns too.
Regional confusion seems to be another trend. Take for example the "California Style Philly Cheesesteak Dogs" in Arizona, Chicago Dogs in New York, and various "Texas" and "Cincinnati" dogs that have little to do with anything served in those locations. Almost every stadium offers some variety of Mexican hot dog, everything from uber-authentic Sonoran dogs to ridiculous hot dog nachos.
Another exciting development in the world of ballpark franks: several teams are ditching mediocre hot dog purveyors in favor of higher quality franks from smaller local companies. It's also great to see a few teams with branches of local hot joints in the stadium, like Ben's Chili Bowl at Nationals Park in D.C., and Polock Johnny's in Camden Yards. They really should do it everywhere. Biker Jim's at Coors Field in Colorado? Varsity at the Braves' Turner Field? Why not?
What are your favorite ballpark dogs? And stay tuned next week for the Minor League hot dog roundup!