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Woof Woof! America's Best Hot Dogs

June 11, 2014

Hot dogs unleashed at Senate in Cincinnati. (Photo: Gina Weathersby)

By Pervaiz Shallwani

From classic franks to artisan wieners with toppings like kimchi, here are the nation’s best hot dogs.

Senate Restaurant; Cincinnati

Chef Daniel Wright has received national accolades for his playful takes on pub food, including a regularly changing menu of hot dogs like the Croque Madame (Black Forest ham, poached egg, béchamel) and the Lindsey Lohan (goat cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, arugula and balsamic vinegar). senatepub.com

(Courtesy: Hot Doug’s)

Hot Doug’s; Chicago

At Doug Sohn’s hot dog temple, the specialty sausages are named after celebrities: the Anna Kendrick, for instance, is a spicy dog. Purists stick to The Dog, a Chicago-style dog with trimmings like celery salt, along with a side of duck-fat fries (only available on Friday and Saturday). The lines often stretch down around the block, and real dogs are allowed on the outdoor patio. hotdougs.com

Crif Dogs. (Photo: John Joh)

Crif Dogs; New York City

Childhood pals Brian Shebairo and Chris Antista differentiate themselves in the city’s crowded hot dog market by deep-frying their franks to a crisp snap before serving them in a choice of more than a dozen mad scientist combinations that include a bacon wrap and toppings such as avocado, cream cheese, and a fried egg. crifdogs.com

Dirty Franks. (Photo: The Ely Brothers Photography)

Dirty Franks; Columbus, Ohio

The franks served here are Vienna all-beef wieners; beyond that, Dirty Franks has made sure to create an option for just about everyone. There are more than 20 styles to choose from, including toppings like brisket, corn relish and Sriracha-cream cheese. Vegetarians are covered, too: The same treatments are offered for Tofurky pups. dirtyfrankscolumbus.com

Frank. (Photo: Alison Narro)

Frank; Austin

Geoff Peveto and Christian Helms pair beer and cocktails with an artisan wiener menu that includes everything from Vienna beef hot dogs to house-made specialties like the Jackalope, a smoked antelope, rabbit and pork sausage. Bun choices include gluten free, pretzel or a tortilla wrap. hotdogscoldbeer.com

Heid’s. (Photo: Katy Watts, shelteredgirlmeetsworld.com)

Heid’s; Liverpool, New York

This 1917 drive-in is a central New York landmark and one of the oldest drive-ins in the country. The frank of choice is a griddled Hofmann’s white Coney—made with pork, veal, and egg whites—and served on a New England-style split-top roll, either one or two to a bun. heidsofliverpool.com

Puka Dog. (Photo: Chadd White)

Puka Dog; Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaiians have long had a love for processed meats—see Spam musubi, a popular sushi-like snack made with the canned meat product. This remote island spot specializes in hot dogs that are plugged into house-baked sweet rolls toasted on custom spikes (this creates a hole in the middle so the buns don’t have to be sliced). The bun serves as a jacket for a grilled Polish sausage that is finished with tropical toppings like garlicky lemon sauce and banana relish. pukadog.com

Pink’s. (Photo:  Courtesy of Pink’s Hot Dogs)

Pink’s; Los Angeles

This legendary Hollywood hot dog shack has been in business since 1939, but the menu has evolved with pop culture. Current editions include the Martha Stewart dog (topped with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream), and one named for Gustavo Dudamel, the L.A. Philharmonic’s current music director and conductor (toppings include guacamole, American and Swiss cheese, jalapeño slices and tortilla chips). pinkshollywood.com

Belly Shack. (Photo: Yasmina Cadiz)

Belly Shack; Chicago

Chef Bill Kim’s Asian-Latino food comes fast and casual in a stripped-down setting under the Blue Line El tracks. Hot-and-sour soup studded with hominy evokes the Mexican soup posole. Kim uses noodles, too, in unexpected ways, such as tucking crispy egg noodles and kimchi salsa in the bun of Chicago’s beloved hot dog. bellyshack.com

Bark Hot Dogs. Courtesy: Bark Dog)

Bark Hot Dogs; Brooklyn, New York

Chefs Joshua Sharkey and Brandon Gillis source their franks from a producer in upstate New York, baste them in lard and pair them with excellent house-made condiments at their eco-friendly Park Slope fast-food joint. One surprising highlight is a veggie dog made with the same pride (hold the lard), and stuffed with Yukon Gold potato, green apple, sage, barley and wheat. barkhotdogs.com

See the rest of the best hot dogs.

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