There aren’t many things on this green earth that unify, and simultaneously drive apart, Americans quite like hot dogs, besides maybe politics and the NFL (which may as well be the same thing at this point, much to the chagrin of “Stick to Sports” Twitter). Hot dogs are universal in the sense that they’re consumed at every corner of the country. They’re also quite divisive, in that each region has their own spin on the mystery sausage, and which one is the best is a oft-debated subject.
Cities and states lay claim to hot dogs like BBQ and famous nightclubs. The Chicago dog, Dodger dog, Seattle-style dog, Detroit dog — all delicacies that locals will fiercely defend to their graves.
In truth, most of these dogs are remarkably similar: dog, buns, onions, peppers, cheese, and some kind of sauce. The attachment lies in the intrinsic pride that comes with the down-home origin story of each dog, most of which were long ago enough to not be quite remembered, as well as memories of better days and sleepless nights spent with friends stumbling into a hot dog vendor at just the right time.
One such cherished hot dog is Detroit’s Coney Island dog, which combines a Dearborn Sausage Company hot dog with beanless chili, a hit of mustard, chopped raw onions, and, of course, a helping of shredded cheddar cheese. These dogs are a part of the city’s culinary backbone, a place where a preference between local landmark American Coney Island or it’s next-door counterpart Lafayette can strain friendships.
A few days ago, on Foodbeast’s podcast, The Katchup, hosts Elie Ayrouth and Geoffrey Kutnick were joined by Chris Sotiropoulos, the owner of American Coney Island to discuss the creation of the Detroit’s esteemed Coney Island Dogs. The company’s recent expansion to Las Vegas gives West Coaster’s the chance to try a regional dog that would be otherwise unobtainable. With the Coney fresh on our mind, the Foodbeast office began to think of other specialty dogs out there that we haven’t tried.
So, we hit the streets and found eleven hometown favorites that we wish we could try, and here they are:
The Sonoran hot dog starts with a frank wrapped in crispy bacon. Created in Tucson, AZ, the dog pays homage to the city’s Latino roots by using a split soft roll called a bolillo, and topping that with pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, diced onions, creamy mayo, mustard, and jalapeños.
Maybe one of the most famous options on this list, the Chicago-style dog is as much a staple to the city as its biting wind. It uses a steamed Vienna sausage all-beef dog, which is then placed in a steamed poppy seed bun, and painted with the bright colors of tomato slices, sport peppers, dill pickle, chopped raw onion, relish, celery salt, and a drizzle of bright yellow mustard.
The Scrambled Dog was born in Columbus, GA 72 years ago, the brainchild of the late Lieutenant Stevens. This beast of a plate starts with a soft bun, then Stevens’ fresh chili, cut up weiners, more chili, raw onions, dill pickle slices, and a heaping handful of crunchy oyster crackers.
Seattle Style Dog
A Seattle-style hot dog consists of a grilled, split frank, nestled on a toasted bun that’s been smothered in cream cheese, grilled onions and, often, jalapeños. It makes sense that these are typically eaten during late nights out, because it sounds like something I would make with some potluck leftovers at 2AM.
This… is what it sounds like. A specialty of the Twin Falls County Fair, this monstrosity does just enough to constitute as a hot dog. Really, it’s a sausage. And it’s stuffed inside of a baked potato. Hence, the tater pig.
Cleveland’s late night sausage of choice is a grilled kielbasa (a sausage broadly described as “any type of meat sausage from Poland.” Thanks Wikipedia). Place one of these guys on a sturdy bun, and top it with a handful of fries, coleslaw, BBQ sauce, as well as hot sauce, and you have yourself a Polish Boy.
Los Angeles’ Chavez Ravine favorite has both steamed and grilled variations. Either way, the result is a ten-inch pork hot dog embraced in an equally as long bun, marked with relish, mustard, ketchup, and chopped raw onions.
This version of the hot dog is popular amongst much of the Southeast United States. Beginning with an all-beef frank stuffed in a soft bun, it’s then covered in chili and piled high with coleslaw. Most people like to add mustard as well, to offset the sweetness of the slaw and savoriness of the chili.
New York Dog
Contrary to every other aspect of their lives, New Yorkers like to keep their hot dogs simple. Strictly boiled in water of mysterious circumstances on a street cart, these dogs are topped with only mustard and sauerkraut for buyers to quickly shove down.
The answer to every New Jerseyan’s hangover, this dog originated in Newark. Here, bakers make plush loaves of pizza bread, which are like massive pizza crusts. After being split open, the bread is stuffed with a lightly fried dog, onions, peppers, and more deep-fried potatoes than can fit.
The Tijuana dog, though named after the town in Mexico in which it originates, gained it’s fame off the streets of L.A. Sold largely from street carts outside of sports games and clubs, this dog is wrapped in bacon and fried until crispy and snappy. It’s tossed into a soft bun and then served with grilled onions and peppers, mayo, mustard, ketchup, and sometimes a grilled jalapeño to give it some kick.