Turkey Dog from Misconduct Tavern (Philadelphia)
Misconduct is a nautical-themed after work happy-hour spot in center city Philadelphia that happens to have a terrific menu including a variety of housemade hot dogs. From now until Thanksgiving they're running this special, made with a whole turkey that's run through the grinder seven times before being blended with duck fat, stuffed into natural casings and smoked. All in the back of a sports bar.
Grilled to order and topped with stuffing, turkey veloute gravy and cranberry mustard on a butter-toasted New England style bun, the flavors are pure Thanksgiving comfort zone. But the toppings don't overpower the housemade dog, which is really the star of the show. It has nice snap with a great traditional frankfurter texture, and just the right amount of smoke. It's hard to believe this thing is made out of turkey. And only $4.
Thanksgiving Brat from The Wurst Bar (Ypsilanti, Michigan)
This sausage and craft beer bar has been getting a lot of love in Michigan. They really set themselves apart with their menu of housemade sausages (and some wild burger specials) ranging from traditional Italian and mettwurst to rattlesnake chorizo and several vegan varieties.
For Thanksgiving they've come up with this roasted turkey and brioche stuffing brat (the stuffing is inside the bratwurst) topped with brown butter and chive mashed potatoes, dark roux gravy, fried haricots verts, cranberry jam and a mushroom and fried onion soubise. Looks amazing, and intense. This dog and a high ABV beer, and I'd probably be ready to pass out watching a Thanksgiving day marathon of Restaurant Stakeout.
The THANKSdog from Hot Dog Mike (Little Rock, AR)
For a one-man operation cart in Little Rock, Hot Dog Mike cranks out some really nice looking dogs, from standards to an ever changing menu of really interesting specials, like this THANKSdog that he'll be offering thanksgiving week. It's a smoked turkey hot dog topped with jalapeno cornbread dressing and cranberry relish on a sourdough bun. Check him out on twitter for cart locations and late-night delivery (!!) hours.
Little Rock, AR ; follow twitter.com/hotdog_mike for location info.
November Special from Franktuary (Pittsburgh)
A neat little socially conscious gourmet hot dog joint in the basement of a church (though it recently also opened a truck) Franktuary serves up your choice of veggie, grass-fed organic, or Boar's Head all-beef natural casing dogs with creative toppings made with fresh ingredients from local farms. This November Special dog, shown on the all-beef Boar's Head, is refreshingly minimal, topped with a homemade cranberry-apple chutney and pumpkin seeds.
The Holly from Short Leash Hot Dogs (Phoenix, AZ)
Short Leash is a truck in Arizona with another seasonal offering that really embodies what I'm talking about with less over-the-top hot dog shock value and more finesse. For the last few years they've been offering the Gratitude Dog - a turkey link with cranberry walnut relish and bacon, but this year it's a new one called The Holly, named after a customer's actual dog.
Starting with a beef and pork frankfurter from nearby Schreiner's Fine Sausages that's steamed and then grilled, The Holly is topped with roasted butternut squash, brown sugar butter, and fresh ricotta from Rainbow Valley Farm, then wrapped in naan bread. Sounds fantastic.
Short Leash Hot Dogs: Phoenix, AZ; see website for location schedule <a ; shortleashhotdogs.com
The Thanks Dog from Station Street Hot Dogs (Pittsburgh)
Station Street, a Pittsburgh hot dog institution since 1915, was recently revived to become a more gourmet concept. Think Chicago and NY classics along with Banh Mi and Cubano dogs. Their Turkey Day offering is an all-beef natural casing frank topped with sausage-cornbread stuffing, cranberry relish and smoked brisket gravy.
The Sweet Pork & Pie from Franks & Dawgs (Chicago)
Forget everything I said about "less over the top". This beautiful mess from gonzo hot doggers Franks & Dogs pretty much takes the crown (previously held by Tubby Dog in Calgary) for the most insane Thanksgiving hot dog concoction of all time. It's a bacon sausage buried under a mountain of sweet potatoes and topped with spiced pecans and crowned with ginger marshmallow fluff. There's also the more "restrained" Tur-Doggin, a turkey and date sausage topped with duck confit, herb aioli, pickled carrots and onion relish.
Turducken Dog from Dat Dog (New Orleans)
A newer hot dog restaurant and bar in New Orleans, Dat Dog offers a huge variety of encased meats - everything from traditional german frankfurters to alligator or crawfish sausage and veggie options, topped with anything from their wild list of toppings. They also run specials fairly often such as this turducken hot dog covered in their signature andouille sausage sauce, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and green onions.
The Thankfurter from DC-3 (Washington DC)
Part of the newest generation of "regional gourmet" hot dog shops, DC-3's menu includes classics like Chicago and West Virginia dogs and their native Half-Smoke alongside wild specials like a fried shrimp and cajun mayo topped "Po Boy Dog" or this awesome looking Thanksgiving offering.
The "Thankfurter" starts with a housemade turkey and stuffing sausage (yes, the stuffing is inside the sausage, almost identical to Wurst Bar - great hot dog minds think alike!) topped with whole cranberry relish and a crispy tangle of fried sweet potatoes.
Thanksgiving Dog from Vicious Dogs (Los Angeles)
Another newer wild-style hot dog spot, Vicious is known for dogs topped with carne asada, chicken fingers, and Ranch dressing, all somehow very gracefully. Their Thanksgiving dog pops up around this time of the year, rather restrained compared to the rest of their menu - a turkey dog topped with stuffing, cranberry and creamy white gravy.
Thanksgiving Dogs from Good Dog (Chattanooga, TN)
An eclectic spot that opened in 2009, Good Dog focuses on local ingredients with a slight Southern meets European twist, offering everything from pimento cheese dogs to currywurst and housemade frites available topped with chili, cheese, and slaw (nice!)
They're doing two Thanksgiving style dogs this year (as well as a turducken sausage throughout the holidays, not pictured) both starting out with all-beef natural casing dogs. The one on the left is topped with rosemary aioli, mashed potatoes, roasted garlic turnip greens and chili apple cranberry relish. On the right is cranberry dijon aioli, turnip greens, and purple cauliflower gratin. Probably the first time I've seen cauliflower on a hot dog, and it kind of makes sense in a pickled chow-chow sort of way.
JJ's Red Hots, Charlotte, NC: Turkey Sausage
A newer southern joint riding the line between hot dog joint and craft beer bar (think slaw dogs, Chicago dogs, liguica sliders and local beer on tap), JJ's red hots is rolling out this turkey and herb sausage for thanksgiving topped with grilled peppers and onions, and a pickled cranberry mustard.
Thanksgivin' Corny Dog from Good Dogs (Houston, TX)
Wait, what? Another place called Good Dogs? Yup, except this one is a truck in Texas. (There's also another one in Colorado, and a bar here in Philly, all unrelated.) Anyway, these guys use local natural casing dogs and make absolutely everything from scratch, down to the ketchup and mustard. They do a lot of wild specials, including this crazy delicious looking Turkey Day corn dog, dipped in a fresh herb and salted table cracker batter, and served with cognac gravy and cranberry apricot chutney. Damn.
Good Dog Truck: Houston, TX; twitter.com/GoodDogHouston
Turkey Sausage from Mutts Amazing Hot Dogs (Oklahoma City)
Mutts is a chef-driven hot dog joint in Oklahoma City that makes some of the craziest hot dog, sausage, and burger specials that I've ever seen, all with locally sourced ingredients. This one's a turkey, sage and cranberry sausage topped with cranberry mustard, smashed sweet potatoes, and cornmeal-crusted fried green beans.