America's Best Hot Dogs

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America’s Best Hot Dogs
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America's Best Hot Dogs

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

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

Image Credit: Gina Weathersby

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

Image Credit: Courtesy of Hot Doug's

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

Image Credit: John Joh

Dirty Franks; Columbus, OH

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

Image Credit: The Ely Brothers Photography

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

Image Credit: Alison Narro

Heid's; Liverpool, NY

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

Image Credit: Katy Watts

Puka Dog; Koloa, Kauai, HI

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

Image Credit: Chadd White

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

Image Credit: Courtesy of Pink's Hot Dogs

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

Image Credit: Yasmina Cadiz

Bark Hot Dogs; Brooklyn, NY

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

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The hot dog has many connotations: an American classic with a squiggle of yellow mustard, a "dirty water dog" at an NYC street stand and the savior and bane of parents with picky eaters. Nowadays, it also rivals the hamburger as a canvas for chef-driven experiments in comfort food. And the results are delicious.

Toppings range from light and tropical garlicky lemon sauce and banana relish, to heartier meat-on-meat versions covered in brisket, corn relish and Sriracha -cream cheese. Hot dogs are even keeping up with pop culture; you can find ones named after Lindsay Lohan, Martha Stewart and Gustavo Dudamel, the L.A. Philharmonic's current music director and conductor.

Check out the slideshow above for the most outrageously delicious versions in the country.

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