Americans consume about 150 million hot dogs across the nation on Fourth of July alone — enough to stretch between Los Angeles (the country’s hot-dog-eating capital) and Washington D.C. five times. The sausage – in all its forms – is a popular food on many other days as well, especially in the summer.
According to some sources, the hot dog was invented in the late 15th century in the German city of Frankfurt-am-Main — hence one of its alternate names, “frankfurter,” meaning a person or thing from Frankfurt. Others trace it back to the Austrian city of Vienna, known as Wien in German — giving us another one of the dog’s monikers, “wiener” and its diminutive, “weenie”. (Here are 20 foods you didn’t know were named after places.)
What’s certain is that by the late 19th century, the hot dog, by whatever name, was well-known in America. Today, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, we eat about 20 billion of them a year in all — about a third of those during peak hot dog season, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. (Before you fire up that grill, for hot dogs or anything else, take note of these tips for the perfect barbecue from the experts.)
The Council differentiates between 18 different regional hot dog styles, mostly having to do with their traditional condiments, but sometimes involving the nature of the bun and even the kind of meat most often used.
The elaborate Chicago version, for instance, adds yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped raw onion, a pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato slices, and celery salt to an all-beef frank nestled in a poppy seed bun. (This is clearly the most popular variation nationwide, based on the frequency with which Chicago dogs show up on menus across the country.) Up in Alaska, on the other hand, the toppings are far simpler (grilled onions are popular) but the dog itself may well be made from caribou meat (usually described as “reindeer”).
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of every state’s top hot dog joint (which may include sit-down restaurants, self-service stands, and even food trucks or carts), based on reviews and ratings appearing on Yelp and on numerous other food, travel, and general interest sites. These include Food & Wine, Eater, Taste of Home, The Daily Meal, First We Feast, LoveFood, Food Network, Gayot, Travel & Leisure, Thrillist, Insider, and People.
Alabama: Gus’s Hot Dogs
> City: Birmingham
Not to be confused with another famed Birmingham-born eatery chain, Gus’s Fried Chicken, this Greek-owned institution, founded in 1947, serves highly rated 50-50 dogs (half pork, half beef) with various combinations of the standard condiments.
Alaska: International House of Hot Dogs
> City: Anchorage
The Alaskan dog is a reindeer (actually caribou) or buffalo frank with sautéed onions and “secret” chipotle sauce. All-beef Polish sausages, available as an alternative, come in Asian, Hawaiian, Italian, Sonoran, and other variations. (Chicken and all-vegetable dogs are also served.)
Arizona: El Güero Canelo
> City: Tucson
This mini-chain of Mexican restaurants (there are three Tucson locations plus a meat market and a bakery and tortilla factory) began life as a hot dog stand in 1993. While there is now a small menu of Mexican dishes (tacos, quesadillas, burros — big burritos — and more), the Sonoran-style hot dog — wrapped in bacon and topped with beans, grilled and raw onion, tomato, mayonnaise, mustard, and jalapeño sauce — remains a major attraction here.
> City: Little Rock
A newcomer to the Little Rock food scene, ensconced in a former Church’s Texas Chicken outlet, Frank’s has quickly earned a reputation for its spicy chili, its classic burgers, and above all its array of dogs, including the Seattle (with cream cheese and pepper jelly), the Pupperoni (with a coating of pepperoni slices and marinara sauce), and the Fryin’ Hawaiian (wrapped in deep-fried bacon with teriyaki sauce, pineapple, and cheese), as well as more conventional New York- and Chicago-style offerings.
California: Pink’s Hot Dogs
> City: Los Angeles
This self-styled “Hollywood legend since 1939” (with outposts around the state and country plus a location in Manila) is famous for its chili and krаut dogs, but also offers a menu of countless other variations.
Colorado: Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs
> City: Denver
You can get a plain “Snappin’ Dog” here if you want, with a choice of add-ons, but Steve’s also serves such creations as the Atlanta Slaw Dog (with chili, cheddar jack cheese, coleslaw, and red onions) and the Denver Dog AKA “Homey” (a dog with bacon, tomato, jalapeños, chili, and cheddar jack wrapped in a flour tortilla).
Connecticut: Super Duper Weenie
> City: Fairfield
Connecticut may be known for its lobster shacks, but it’s also famous for its many hot dog joints, where the franks are traditionally grilled, sometimes to the point of charring. This example began life as a food truck in 1992, opening as a restaurant eight years later. Specialty dogs include the New Englander (sauerkrаut, bacon, mustard, sweet relish, and raw onion) and the Cincinnatian (Cincinnati-style chili, cheddar, and chopped onions) — and the hand-cut fries aren’t to be missed.
Delaware: The Dog House
> City: New Castle
Though a sign outside also billboards burgers, steak sandwiches, subs, and pizza, the headline reads “HOT DOGS Our Specialty!” There’s nothing fancy about them — just top-quality franks with cheese, cheese and chili, or krаut.
Florida: Hot Dog Heaven
> City: Orlando
All-beef Vienna hot dogs, done up in the authentic Chicago style, are the thing at this counter-service wiener spot. Both a regular and a spicy option are available (the latter dubbed The Great Chicago Fire Dog), and variations include a cheese and slaw dog, a baked bean and onion dog, and a Reuben dog.
Georgia: Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs
> City: Marietta
This super-casual counter-service place is chili dog heaven: all the dogs come with (serious) chili, as well as mustard and onions. Onion rings, fries, a burger, and hot fried apple and peach pies fill out the menu.
Hawaii: Big Island Top Dogs
> City: Hilo (Big Island)
The dogs here include an all-beef version plus such wiener-adjacent choices as kielbasa, Portuguese sausage, and linguica. All are available on a choice of white, wheat, or Punalu’u sweet bun, and the condiments offered include (besides the usual) passion fruit-mustard sauce, kimchi aïoli, and house-made bourbon pineapple BBQ sauce. .
Idaho: Irving’s Red Hots
> City: Ketchum (Sun Valley)
“Serving the great American hot dog,” this laid-back wiener stand offers both Chicago-style beef franks and Polish sausage, either available with krаut, mustard, onions, pickles, and peppers; chili, cheese, onions, and peppers; or “the works” — mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and peppers. Soft pretzels and Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese are also on the menu.
Illinois: The Wiener’s Circle
> City: Chicago
This Lincoln Park institution is known for two things: its franks (especially the char-grilled “Char-dogs,” with all the classic Chicago condiments) and its longtime tradition of encouraging name-calling and other verbal abuse between staff and customers, especially in the evenings. If the mutual insults don’t chase you away, you’ll find the dogs hard to beat.
Indiana: Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island Wiener Stand
> City: Fort Wayne
Opened in 1913, this old-style eatery has welcomed everybody from Mickey Mantle to Jay Leno to Mike Pence for its famous Coney Island dogs, grilled and served on a steamed bun with mustard, chopped onions, and housemade Coney sauce (a tomatoey meat sauce reminiscent of mild chili). Regulars use shorthand to order: “Three without” is three dogs with mustard and Coney sauce but no onions. “Three and a bottle” is three dogs with everything and a Coke on the side.
Iowa: The Flying Wienie
> City: Cedar Rapids
Red Hot Chicago brand dogs, all beef, are available with all the usual toppings here — though the Flying Wienie adds peanut butter to the mix as a possibility. Other choices include a chili cheese dog (“lots of chili and covered with cheese”) and a gyro cheese dog.
Kansas: Leeway Franks
> City: Lawrence
The basic Leeway frank is a beef hot dog with brown mustard, sautéed onions, and krаut. There’s also a classic Chicago-style dog and a chili dog made with “Texas red chili” and yellow mustard. For an unusual hot dog variation, there’s even a frank Frito pie — a sliced dog with mustard, chili, cheese sauce, salsa, and sour cream on a bed of Fritos.
Kentucky: Lonnie’s Best Taste of Chicago
> City: Louisville
Lonnie’s serves not one but five variations on the traditional Chicago dog. The Clark St. dog, for instance, adds cucumbers to the usual condiments; the Rush St. chili cheese dog involves homemade chili, hot melted cheese, yellow mustard, and chopped onions. Four Polish sausage choices are also available.
Louisiana: Dat Dog
> City: New Orleans
What was once a small hot dog stand is now a three-store mini-chain around the city (with outposts in Lafayette, Louisiana, and College Station, Texas). “Dat Dog” offers a choice of Vienna all-beef frank, Polish kielbasa, Italian sausage, or sausages made from crawfish or alligator, among other things — as well as four vegan dog variations. Toppings? The usual, of course, but also blackberry sauce, Creole mustard, and crawfish étouffée.
Maine: Simones’ Hot Dog Stand
> City: Lewiston
Sinones’ got started back in 1908, “serving Lewiston, Maine and the rest of the world” according to its menu. There are burgers, sandwiches, and a full menu of breakfast fare, but the dogs are the thing here — steamed or grilled, with cheese, chili, or krаut, or some combination of them.
Maryland: G&A Restaurant
> City: Baltimore
This 94-year-old family-owned restaurant bills itself as “Home of Baltimore’s best Coney Island hot dogs.” Apart from that brag, they don’t make a big deal about it. There’s just one dog (with the usual accompaniments available) on an otherwise huge menu of sandwiches, meat and fish, and other fare. But Guy Fieri raved about that dog — and its Coney sauce, which he approvingly dubbed a “crazy meat concoction” — and G&A won a Reader’s Choice award for favorite hot dogs eight years in a row.
Massachusetts: Hot Dog Ranch
> City: Pittsfield
A longtime favorite in Pittsfield, in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, Hot Dog Ranch is famous for its “baby hot dogs” — a Pittsfield specialty since a restaurant owner in town first had them made specially by a local butcher. They’re just over four inches long, part beef and part pork, grilled and served with mustard, chopped onions, and a chili-like sauce.
Michigan: Lafayette Coney Island
> City: Detroit
This unpretentious 1914-vintage hot-dog-centric diner, which calls itself “the spot for Coneys,” serves a classic version — a beef-and-pork frank with yellow mustard, chopped onions, and plenty of meaty Coney sauce. Chili cheese fries are the recommended accompaniment. One Yelp reviewer seemed to be speaking for many of Lafayette’s fans when he wrote “Hands down the best coney dog, and coney experience, in the United States.”
Minnesota: The Wienery
> City: Minneapolis
A decades-old family-owned neighborhood diner, The Wienery features 18 different dog variations, all made with Vienna all-beef franks (or tofu dogs, if you insist). Some examples: Mr. Sunshine (spicy giardiniera sauce and cheese), Picnic Dog (baked beans, cheese, and coleslaw), and Maxwell Street (fried onions, green peppers, and sport peppers).
Mississippi: Hot Dog Man
> City: Vicksburg
At this bare-bones take-out place near the Yazoo River Canal separating Mississippi from Louisiana, you can get a chili cheese dog, a small Frito pie, a soft drink, and chips or a cookie for under $6. An “old fashioned dog” goes for $1.50 with some combination of catsup, mayo, mustard, relish, onions, krаut, or jalapenos.
Missouri: Steve’s Hot Dogs
> City: St. Louis
Steve Ewing, frontman for the popular local band The Urge, launched a hot dog cart in 2008, opening an actual restaurant three years later. All-beef franks from Nathan’s Famous are the basis for about a dozen variations including the Bacon Bacon Jamaican (bacon, pepper jack, jerk seasoning, bell peppers, and honey chipotle BBQ sauce) and the Gorilla Mac & Cheese (mac’n’cheese, bacon, and French’s fried onions). And there’s a build-your-own option.
Montana: Mr. Hot Dogs
> City: Butte
The specialty here is an “original Chicago-style dog’ made with Montana-raised beef or buffalo and served on homemade buns. The atmosphere of this little place suggests a family-style Italian restaurant (there are also pizzas and pastas on the menu), but there are other specialty dogs on the menu and abundant specials, too.
Nebraska: Coney Island Lunch Room
> City: Grand Island
Don’t expect gourmet franks or internationally inspired variations on the wiener at this 1933-vintage institution. In addition to breakfast dishes, sandwiches, and a few steaks and chops, this local favorite serves just one perfect dog — Coney Island-style, preferably with a generous ladling of chili.
Nevada: Dirt Dog
> City: Las Vegas
With five Las Vegas locations, Dirt Dog promises “L.A. street food.” In addition to ample servings of crispy fries with topping including corn and chili, that mostly translates to Nathan’s Famous all-beef dogs served on split-top buns in numerous extravagant variations. Snoop’s Dogg, also bacon-wrapped, includes slaw, more bacon, and something described as “gin & juice ketchup.”
New Hampshire: Gilley’s Diner
> City: Portsmouth
This historic railway-car-style diner was built in 1940 and towed to its current location in 1974. Besides assorted burgers and sandwiches, the centerpiece of the menu here is the beef-and-pork hot dog — steamed and served on a split-top bun with various traditional condiments, including krаut or chili.
New Jersey: Tommy’s Italian Sausage & Hot Dogs
> City: Elizabeth
This modest street-corner restaurant (with a streetside takeout window), open since 1969, is famous for its Italian hot dogs, once described by Serious Eats as “the holy grail” of franks. These are all-beef dogs, made by a Newark producer of deli meats, served on a wedge of “pizza bread” cut from a round, flat loaf, and topped with sautéed peppers and onions and little rounds of fried potato. More conventional dogs with chili, krаut, and other accoutrements are also served.
New Mexico: Urban Hot Dog Company
> City: Albuquerque
With both a food truck and a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Urban offers an array of all-beef dogs (and other sausages) with elaborate combinations of ingredients. The Crunchy Onion, for instance, is topped with ancho-chile-dusted onion strings and chipotle mayo. The Fully Loaded is a frank wrapped in potato slices and deep-fried, then enhanced with horseradish sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions, and bacon.
New York: Walter’s Hot Dog Stand
> City: Mamaroneck
Choosing just one top hot dog purveyor in New York State is a tough call, but Walter’s — established in 1919 and designated as a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places — is hard to beat. Their dogs are a blend of pork, beef, and veal, made especially for Walter’s, split down the middle and grilled with a secret sauce, then served on a toasted bun with a custom mustard blend. A variation on the standard version is the Puffy Dog, topped with smashed and grilled potato puffs.
North Carolina: JJ’s Red Hots
> City: Charlotte
This is a big, sleek restaurant rather than a funky hot dog stand, but the franks are definitely the thing here. Signature offerings include the Chicago-style Joliet Jake and the Southern Girl (pimento cheese, slaw, bacon, and “hot blonde mustard”).
North Dakota: DogMahal DogHaus
> City: Grand Forks
Nearly every national ranking of wieners puts this curiously named establishment, near the University of North Dakota, at the top for the state. The all-beef franks include a classic offering, a Chicago dog, and specials like the Fightin Hawk (nacho cheese, chreded cheese, creen chilies, and jalapenos).
Ohio: O’Betty’s Red Hot
> City: Athens
Ohio-made all-beef franks in toasted and steamed honey buns with hand-cut twice-cooked fries on the side are the draw here. The decor pays tribute to old-school burlesque stars, as do the names of the dogs — for instance the Tempest “Stormy Weather” (habanero salsa, chopped jalapeños, sharp aged cheddar, and sour cream) and the Varla “Va-Va-Voom” (krаut, bacon bits, housemade horseradish sauce, and 1000 Island dressing).
Oklahoma: Diamond Dawgs
> City: Norman
Students and teachers at the adjacent University of Oklahoma love the Coney Island-style franks at this baseball-themed hot-doggery. Favorites include the Bambino (with pulled pork and BBQ sauce) and the Batting Cajun (andouille sausage, popcorn shrimp, okra, and rémoulade sauce).
Oregon: Victory Dogs
> City: Medford
Billing itself as “southern Oregon’s only destination hot dog stand,” Victory Dogs serves up more than 40 variations on the classic wiener. There are even five breakfast choices — including the Hangover Dog (fried egg, salsa, cheddar, olives, lettuce, and sour cream).
Pennsylvania: Eddie’s Footlong Hot Dogs
> City: Meadville
Open since 1947 and now with two locations in this city in the northwestern corner of the state, Eddie’s serves franks from Smith’s Provision in nearby Erie. Other than chicken tenders and sloppy Joes, the dogs are the focus here, with more than a dozen condiments available for mixing and matching.
Rhode Island: Olneyville New York System
> City: Providence
Named for the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence, this 75-year-old restaurant — recipient of a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic Award — doesn’t serve hot dogs, either at this original location or its outpost in Cranston. At least it doesn’t call them that. Instead, they’re known as hot wieners. In a style unique to Rhode Island, these are coated in mustard, napped in house-made meat sauce, sprinkled with celery salt, topped with onions, and served in a steamed bun.
South Carolina: Jack’s Cosmic Dogs
> City: Mt. Pleasant
Regularly hailed as serving the best hot dogs in the Charleston area, Jack’s has an ample menu of wiener variations with outer-space-themed names. The Blue Galactic Dog adds blue cheese slaw to the chili and cheddar, and substitutes sweet potato mustard for the spicy kind. The restaurant’s Cosmic Dog (with just the slaw and the sweet potato mustard) was praised by Food Network star Alton Brown.
South Dakota: Philly Ted’s Cheezsteaks
> City: Rapid City
It might be named for another all-American culinary specialty, but Philly Ted’s is a popular stop for wiener-lovers, too, for dogs from the iconic Nathan’s, ideally ordered with chili and (cheese) “whiz” repurposed from those cheesesteaks.
Tennessee: Miss Griffin’s Footlong Hot Dogs
> City: Chattanooga
This Chattanooga favorite grew out of a hot dog stand opened by Willie Mae Griffin in 1939. It is said that she only knew how to make dogs one way: nestle a steamed foot-long wiener into a steamed bun and top it with mustard, hot sauce, onions, and secret-recipe relish. According to the restaurant website “She didn’t ask how you wanted your dog made, but only how many.” Patrons can customize their own dogs, and there are eight standard preparations, including the M.O.C.S. (mustard, onions, chili, and slaw) and the Miss Griffin original.
Texas: Hot Dogs, Wings, Etc.
> City: Bryan
This Brazos Valley standby, in business for more than 30 years, is best-known for its chili cheese dog. The all-beef choices include a few other variations on the classic, and quarter-pound franks are also available. Then there’s the Big Foot — a half-pound wiener with chili, American and cheddar cheese, jalapeños, onions, mustard, and relish.
Utah: J Dawgs
> City: Lehi
One of nine Utah locations — all offering “dawgs, chips, drinks, good times” — this place serves grilled all-beef franks and Polish sausages with a choice of standard condiments plus a house-made sauce. It’s all very simple, but as one Yelp reviewer put it “I love when a restaurant does one thing and does it right.”
Vermont: Al’s French Frys
> City: South Burlington
For almost 75 years, this local institution — given a James Beard America’s Classic Award in 2010 — has been serving burgers, chicken, and dogs in an old-style diner atmosphere. The ideal order: a chili dog with a side of Al’s excellent “frys,” with our without cheese and/or gravy.
Virginia: Ray’s Dog House
> City: Portsmouth
The dogs at this strip-mall storefront, a locals’ favorite, come from Boar’s Head, and include Coneys, all-beef, and skinless pork-and-beef options. There are also foot-longs and quarter-pound wieners. The toppings are standard, with the exception of sweet Vidalia onions. Customers rave about the French fries.
Washington: Matt’s Hot Dogs
> City: Seattle
At this counter-service restaurant, the 100% beef dogs are made according to the proprietor’s recipe. The chili dog is Matt’s most famous offering, but there are also Chicago- and New York-style variations, among others. The Seattle Dog is topped with grilled onions and cream cheese.
West Virginia: Hillbilly Hot Dogs
> City: Lesage
Hillbilly is almost certainly the only hot dog joint in America (in the world) with a wedding chapel. Really. They also have a house anthem, “Weenie Song.” If you sing it, you get a free basic hot dog or a scoop of ice cream. The extravagant — and extravagantly named — options include the “Whazz UP” Dog (a deep-fried frank with chili sauce, habanero sauce, BBQ sauce, jalapeños, nacho cheese, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing) and the Pine-Appalachian Dog (BBQ sauce, country ham, shredded cheese, and crushed pineapple).
Wisconsin: Martino’s Italian Beef and Hot Dogs
> City: Milwaukee
Staking a claim to serving what they describe as Milwaukee’s No. 1 Chicago-style dog, the family-owned Martino’s offers not just the classic but nine variations — all available in regular size or as jumbo or foot-long Vienna all-beef franks (there’s also a “fire” option if you like your dogs spicy).
Wyoming: Dog Haus Biergarten
> City: Cheyenne
Cheyenne has had several well-known hot dog stands and carts, but they seem to come and go, so this unit of a major California-based national dog and burger chain is widely considered to be the best bet in town for (as their motto puts it) “the absolute würst.” The specialty is hormone- and antibiotic-free all-beef franks served on King’s Hawaiian rolls. Possibilities include the Sooo Cali (wild arugula, avocado, tomato, crisp-fried onions, and spicy basil aïoli) and the Downtown (a bacon-wrapped frank with caramelized onions, pickled peppers, mayo, mustard, and ketchup).
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