Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots, Chicago: Mighty Dog; As every Chicago hot-dog lover knows, hot dogs and tamales go hand in hand at many of the city's storied spots (though they're frequently not the best thing on the menu). Not so at Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots where John Pawlikowski serves the Mighty Dog — a hot dog and tamale on a bun with chili and cheese. Sounds like a monster, right? You're right to be scared, it's a mess. You want tomato, sport peppers, relish, and pickles on that? You bet you do. Soft steamed bun, moist tamale, fresh snap of the dog, chili, cheese, and a slice of cucumber sliced on the bias — it's one of the best hot dogs you'll ever have. Johnnie celebrates 40 years this May. (Photo: Arthur Bovino)
Rutt's Hut, Clifton, N.J.: The Ripper with Relish; Whether you order an "In-And-Outer," (just a quick dunk in the oil), a Ripper (a pork-and-beef Thumann's link that's deep-fried in beef fat until it rips apart), a well-done "Weller," or the crunchy, porky, almost-overcooked "Cremator," make sure you get it "all the way," topped with mustard and a spicy, sweet, onion- and cabbage-based relish. (Photo: flickr/ Brouhaha)
Hot Doug's, Chicago: Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage; Along with Doughnut Vault, Hot Doug's is probably Chicago's most famous line for food. The signature order here of course, is the foie gras and sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli. It's a brilliant pairing — the snap of the dog against the creaminess of the foie — a visionary move celebrated by gout-defying offal lovers everywhere. (Photo: Arthur Bovino)
Schaller's Drive-In, Rochester, N.Y.: Meat Sauce, Mustard, Onions; Schaller's specialty is the upstate hot-dog variety known as White Hots: fat natural-casing dogs made from pork, beef, and veal, made by Zweigle's. Top it with some of their meat-based "hot sauce," mustard, and onions, grab a handful of pickles, and you're in summer-vacation heaven. (Photo: Foursquare/ Chris C)
Olneyville N.Y. System, North Providence, R.I.: NY System Dog; The New York System dog is a regional specialty: small franks (in this case, from Little Rhody) are steamed, placed atop a steamed bun, and topped with a cumin-heavy meat sauce, yellow mustard, diced onions, and celery salt. You're going to want to order a few of these, because they're small and addictive (see how many of them the counterman can balance on his arm). The "wiener sauce" is so popular that people have been requesting the recipe for years; you can purchase a packet of seasoning online and make it yourself at home. (Photo: Olneyville N.Y. System)
Superdawg, Chicago: Superdawg; Superdawg has been an institution on Milwaukee Avenue across from Caldwell Woods since Maurie Berman opened it in 1948. The recently returned G.I. designed the building and devised his own secret recipe and set up a drive-in at what was then the end of the streetcar line where he planned to sell $0.32 Superdawg sandwiches to "swimming families and cruisin' teens" for a few months during the summer to help put him through school at Northwestern. In 1950, Maurie passed the CPA exam, but he and wife Flaurie decided to keep operating Superdawg and to open year-round. The family-owned, working drive-in still serves superior pure beef dogs, "the loveliest, juiciest creation of pure beef hot dog (no pork, no veal, no cereal, no filler) formally dressed with all the trimmings: golden mustard, tangy piccalilli, kosher dill pickle, chopped Spanish onions, and a memorable hot pepper." (Photo: Superdawg)
Rawley's Drive-In, Fairfield, Conn.: "The Works"; Behind the small counter, plump Red Hots from Blue Ribbon take a trip to the deep-fryer and are then finished on the griddle next to toasting buns, where they develop a burnished, crusty skin. You have your choice of condiments, but regulars would recommend "the works:" mustard, relish, sauerkraut, and chunks of crunchy bacon. (Photo: Michael Stern)
Katz's Delicatessen, New York City: Mustard and Sauerkraut; Katz's Deli, in New York's Lower East Side, is a New York institution. Made especially for the restaurant by Sabrett, these garlicky, natural-casing, jumbo-size all-beef dogs spend such a long time on the flat-top grill that the outside gets a nice char and snaps when you bite into it. A smear of mustard is all that's needed, but a little sauerkraut or stewed onions certainly won't hurt. (Photo: Arthur Bovino)
Flo's, Camp Neddick, Maine: Hot Dog with Mayo, Celery Salt, Relish; Flo's Hot Dogs is a family-owned and operated establishment that has been in business since 1959. They specialize in steamed hot dogs that only need a sprinkle of celery salt, relish, and is sold separately in jars both on location and online. The hot dogs have a spicy natural casing, and the secret relish is at once spicy and sweet. (Photo: Flo's)
Dew Drop Inn, Mobile, Ala.: Dew Drop Dog; There's a surprisingly expansive Southern-tinged menu with a handful of hidden gems (like the oyster loaf, a smaller-size oyster po'boy), but their hot dog, supposedly the first to reach this neck of the woods way back when, is a true standout. The bright red, steamed dogs are stuffed into a squishy bun and topped with coarse-ground chili, sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard, and a bread-and-butter pickle. You can also order them "upside-down," with the dog sitting atop the condiments, but any way you slice it this is a very solid hot dog. (Photo: flickr/ vige)
Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit: Coney; The hot dog has a juicy, salty, smoky snap, the Coney sauce is spot-on, and the fries are crispy, but it's the experience that puts it over the top in our book: Lafayette is a divey, weathered, eccentric sort of place that hasn't been renovated in many years, but the charm is palpable, especially in the staff. (Photo: flickr/ eekim)
Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C.: The Half-Smoke; It might tweak some Washingtonians to hear, but along with the Jumbo Slice, as bagels and pizza are to New York, so the half-smoke is one of the Capitol's most iconic foods. The celebrity (and presidential) photos on the wall are clear indications of Ben's Chili Bowl's city landmark status, but the continuous lines out the door are evidence that the restaurant's chili-cheese dogs are some of the best in the country. Those in the know don't just order "dogs," they get the half-smokes, a half-pork, half-beef smoked sausage, which is a native D.C. specialty supposedly invented by Ben Ali, the founder. (Photo: David Hill)
Senate Restaurant, Cincinnati: Croque Madame; While some restaurants relegate the hot dog to the children's menu, here the weiners are front and center, in eight over-the-top varieties (including one that changes daily). Their custom dogs are made by Avril-Bleh butchers just down the street, and they go through 800 of them weekly. The real showstopper is the Croque Madame dog: a béchamel-slathered dog, topped with Black Forest ham and a poached egg, in a toasted brioche bun. It's breakfast, lunch, and dinner all in one. (Photo: Senate)
J. S. Pulliam Barbecue, Winston-Salem, N.C.: Chili Slaw Dog; It's called a barbecue place, but what most people seem to rave about Pulliam's isn't the 'cue, it's the dogs. These wieners are a fearsome dark red in color, nicely spiced, and bursting with juices. The buns are buttered and toasted, which adds a nice level of texture and flavor. Reader's Digest once called them
"the best hot dogs in the South." (Photo: Charlie Brinson)
Walter's, Mamaroneck, N.Y.:- With homemade mustard; The hot dogs here haven't changed since Walter Warrington opened his first stand nearby in 1919. Warrington devised the recipe for these dogs himself, and to this day they're still split down the middle, basted in a secret sauce as they grill, placed into a fluffy toasted bun, and topped with homemade mustard. (Photo: Walter's)
Wednesday, July 23 is National Hot Dog Day. We've got photos of the many ways we like to top our hot dogs.
But what could possibly top this? FREE!
Kangaroo Express offers free hot dogs from 6 a.m. to midnight to anyone with a military ID or their mobile app installed. Everyone else pays 50 cents from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. - limit four, Donations will be accepted for the Salute Our Troops campaign.
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