In the pantheon of American culinary traditions, there are few dishes as iconic as the good old hot dog. And no better time to eat one than during the summer, where they’re a staple at baseball games and cookouts everywhere, and there’s an entire day (July 23rd) in celebration of the frankfurter. But if mustard, ketchup, relish, and onions are as outrageous as your dogs get, prepared to be wowed by these 15 wild dogs from across the country.
Location: New York, NY
Beef, pork, and chicken are what you traditionally find in a hot dog. But there’s nothing traditional about the octopus hot dog that Riverpark chef/partner Sisha Ortúzar is serving up. “I really enjoy octopus, and the texture is similar to that of a hot dog,” says Ortúzar. “We realized a tentacle fits perfectly into a hot dog bun and that it’s fun to eat octopus this way, so we added it to our bar menu. We braise, smoke, then grill the tentacles before putting one in a bun with spicy mayo and refreshing cucumber relish.”
Where: Dat Dog
Location: New Orleans, LA
If you’re going to eat an alligator dog, there’s no better place to do it than in New Orleans. And there’s no better place for dogs in New Orleans than Dat Dog, where you’ll find regional delicacies like an alligator sausage topped with guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, bacon, and yellow mustard, or a crawfish sausage with sour cream, crawfish etouffee, fresh onions, diced tomatoes, and Creole mustard.
Where: Haute Doggery
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Few cities know how to do “over the top” better than Las Vegas—and, yes, that includes it hot dog stands. At The LINQ, a new open-air dining and shopping spot on The Strip, Haute Doggery offers more than 20 types of dogs, some of them retro-inspired, some of them—like the Billionaire Dog—for high rollers. “When the ‘whales’ roll into Las Vegas looking to gamble with extremely high stakes, the casinos cater to their every demand,” says Anthony Meidenbauer, corporate executive chef and director of culinary operations at Block 16. “High-end menu items including Kobe beef steak, foie gras, truffles, caviar, shark fin soup, and crazy expensive wine are all regular fare…the inspiration for the Billionaire Dog was to bring some of the foods that ‘billionaires’ enjoy in Vegas to the masses. We use a Kobe beef hot dog, topped with foie gras torchon, black truffle mayo, and port onion marmalade.”
Where: Kachina Southwestern Grill
Location: Westminster, CO
“Kachina’s menu is heavily influenced by Southwestern cuisine,” says chef Jeff Bolton of the reasoning behind their Sonoran Dog, a bacon-wrapped frankfurter that is popular in Arizona. In Kachina’s case, that means a Kobe hot dog with Applewood bacon, cowboy beans, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and smoked tomato aioli. “We’ve made it even more popular at Kachina by adding our personal touch with a house-made bollilo bun and smoked tomato aioli,” says Bolton. “The fresh bollilo bread we make daily in our in-house pastry shop really enhances the flavor, and we use our smoked tomato aioli in place of your typical mayonnaise.”
The Kirkland Dog
Where: The Kirkland Tap & Trotter
Location: Somerville, MA
Chef Tony Maws spent more than a year developing The Kirkland Dog, made from all-natural pork shoulder, grass-fed beef chuck and shoulder and served on a house-baked pretzel bun. “I personally don’t like a soft, squishy hot dog bun,” says Maws. “I don’t like it! I don’t like Wonder Bread, either. For my interpretation, I didn’t want a bun so hearty that you couldn’t bite into it, but I also didn’t want something so soft that it would fall apart.” But you’d better time your visit correctly if you want to try it: The dish is an off-menu item that’s available Monday evenings and served in limited quantities throughout the rest of the week.
Chicken & Sage Sausage Roll
Where: The Shakespeare
Location: New York, NY
“The idea is not a novel one,” says chef Jason Hicks of The Shakespeare’s house-made chicken and sage sausage roll, which is wrapped and baked in a puff pastry and served with a baby leaf salad and a pint of beer. “Sausage rolls are eaten the same way in the U.K. as hot dogs are in New York. [They’re] sold in both bakeries and butcher’s shops alike and are normally put in a small paper bag, so that they can be eaten on the run.”
The Flying Dutchman
Where: Urban Hotdog Company
Location: Albuquerque, NM
There are more than 20 unique ways to enjoy a frankfurter at Albuquerque’s Urban Hotdog Company, including Flying Dutchman-style, in which a split and fried Italian sausage is covered with green chile, fontina cheese, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, and hot sauce before being topped with grilled jalapeños and sport peppers. “The Flying Dutchman came about through employee collaboration,” says manager Matthew Bernabe of the dish’s origin. “I started a secret menu to give our regulars something different to try and encourage creativity in the kitchen…One day a few of our employees got the urge to try anything that had a sort of ‘kick’ to it on top of our spicy Italian sausage. We refined the idea a bit and we were completely blown away with the results! It has become one of the most popular ‘Secret Menu’ items we have created.”
Kobe Beef Hot Dog
Where: City Limits Diner
Location: White Plains, NY & Stamford, CT
Few ingredients say “indulgence” like Kobe beef. “The Kobe Beef Hot Dog is very popular among adults that dine at City Limits, allowing guests to indulge in an elevated version of a childhood favorite,” says Chef Peter Assue of their high-end dog, which is topped with jalapeño jack cheese, pickled cucumbers and chimichurri. “We serve the hot dog in a house-made pretzel roll that gives the dish a little bit more flavor. Kobe beef is unexpected, and takes the hot dog to the next level…we’re making it accessible and offering it at a price that everyone in the family can be comfortable with.”
Street-Style Hot Dog
Where: The Painted Burro
Location: Somerville, MA
Casual Mexican favorite The Painted Burro is taking a cue from the Sonoran dog with its Street-Style Hot Dog. The all-beef hot dog courtesy of Pearl Meats, located in nearby Randolph, is served inside a toasted bun with fried pork belly, cabbage and jalapeño slaw, chipotle ketchup and agave mustard. On the side? Pickled veggie salad and charro beans.
Where: Harlem Shake
Location: New York, NY
New York City’s Harlem Shake is offering yet another take on the Sonoran Dog, this one a deep-fried bacon-wrapped dog with pickled cherry pepper-bacon relish, chipotle mayo, and onions (all of the condiments are made in-house). “The inspiration for this hot dog was my husband, who is Mexican, and kept raving about the hot dogs he used to eat in Mexico as a child,” says owner Jelena Pasic. “He made it for me once at home and I thought it was the best hot dog I ever had! Needless to say, I decided to place it on the menu at Harlem Shake.”
Sugar Mountain Pork Hot Dog
Location: Burlington, VT
Dogs get local at the Hotel Vermont, where on-site restaurant Juniper is serving up a locally-raised and pastured pork dog. The dish, courtesy of chef de cuisine Douglas Paine, is a new addition to the summer menu and is dressed with house pickle relish, yellow mustard, and the diner’s choice of lamb chili, cheese curds, or oxtail gravy. (The chef also suggests pairing it with a fresh and local Citizen Cider.)
Where: Craftsman and Wolves
Location: San Francisco, CA
The hot dog is getting an upscale twist at San Francisco’s Craftmans and Wolves. “There are few things better than a hot dog and an ice cold beer on a sunny day with friends,” says chef/owner William Werner. “For baseball season and summer BBQs, we wanted to make a Craftsman and Wolves version of a hot dog. So we got a custom bun mold to make a special croissant bun. Then we added a Zoe’s natural, all-beef hot dog and topped it with whole grain mustard and salt and vinegar beet chips. It’s soft, crunchy, salty, and slightly sweet—hits the spot.”
Paradise BLT Dog
Where: Paradise Park Trailer Resort
Location: Nashville, TN
An old-school dog gets a new-school twist at Nashville’s Paradise Park Trailer Resort, where a jumbo all-beef hot dog gets wrapped in bacon, deep fried and served BLT-style. “I wanted to make the traditional hot dog more fun, and everyone loves a good BLT, so I thought, why not combine the two?” says Max Goldberg, co-owner of Strategic Hospitality.
The Big Kahuna
Where: Hot Diggity!
Location: Philadelphia, PA
The City of Brotherly Love is giving the traditional hot dog a tropical makeover with The Big Kahuna. This refreshingly innovative dish comes with one of three frankfurter bases—all-beef, vegetarian, or vegan—then gets topped with guava mustard, grilled sweet red onions, pineapple salsa, and an orange habanero aioli.
Lobster “Haute” Dog
Where: Chebeague Island Inn
Location: Chebeague Island, ME
You’ll have to travel 10 miles off the coast of Portland, Maine on National Hot Dog Day if you want to get a taste of this not-so-average hot dog, which pairs a fresh lobster and beef dog with avocado garlic whip and pickled watermelon slaw.
More on hot dogs and outrageous eats below…