Summer’s coming to a close, but not before there’s one last major I’ll-diet-in-the fall celebration: The 10th of September marks National Hot Dog Day, brought to us from the same people who gave us National Donut Day and National Pie Day. God bless these people.
Now I’m well known around these parts (most parts, really) as a hot-dog enthusiast. A Weiner devotee. An encased meat… okay, you get the picture. Hot dogs are delicious, man. And here are my choices for the five best franks in the grand old U.S. of A!
5 Katz’s Delicatessen, NYC
This legendary icon of the Lower East Side already features perhaps the best sandwich in the entire country: the hot Pastrami on Rye. But Katz’s also serves up one hell of a dog. An all-beef frankfurter seasoned with salt, paprika, and garlic, lightly charred to add a nice snap to each bite. Smear some golden mustard and pile on the tangy sauerkraut and you’ve got a taste of the old country. Heck, you might even feel inclined to shorten your last name after a visit. I did. I used to be known as Mike Postalakissmeimgreek.
4 Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace, Columbus, OH
Columbus is becoming one of those “thriving small big cities”. Which is a nice way of saying “there used to be only chain restaurants here, but now, not”. You know things have changed when a Midwesterner can add Korean Kimchi to his hot dog — which is one of the menu choices at this Palace de Hot Dogs. My go-to dog here is the Classy Lady: an all-beef wiener smothered in cheese sauce and crushed potato chips. This is not for the tidy eater. On the plus size… I mean, side, it’s less than $4. So you’ll have plenty of leftover change for the laundromat.
3 Pink’s Hot Dogs, Los Angeles, CA
Known mostly these days as a tourist trap, Pink’s used to be the spot for celebrities with a taste for weenies. Like Orson Welles. Rumor has it that on one particularly hot summer night, Mr. Welles devoured 17 hot dogs in one sitting. Ummm… bravo, Orson? Look, don’t feel the need to break that record. One or two will send you away full. Try the Planet Hollywood dog with grilled onions, bacon and nacho cheese. It’s the best cuisine named after a failed vanity project since Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania! I promise you that was a real thing.
2 Bud’s Broiler, New Orleans, LA
Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know that you know that NOLA is probably the best city in America for eating. There’s crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, beignets…the list of great comfort foods served in the Big Easy is endless. Now add a dynamite hot dog to said list. Open 24/7, Bud’s Broiler is serving up a spilt-down-the-middle wiener in a warm hot dog bun, drenched with some bonafide Southern BBQ sauce. Add some grated cheddar cheese and onions for less than a ticket on a trolley car ride. You’ve earned it, Stanley.
1 Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit, MI
Downtown Detroit has seen better days. Still recovering from whatever the hell happened in 2008, the city has become a destination for chefs & entrepreneurs hoping to find cheap rents for future gastronomical meccas. Fortunately, some of the classic spots have survived. Most notably Lafayette’s Coney Island. Which is sorta remarkable when you also factor in that they are neighbors to their chief competitor, American Coney Island. Both places serve a traditional “Michigan Hot Dog”: all-beef franks loaded with chili, raw onions, and a dab of mustard. The chili has a kick, the mustard has a tang, and the onions have a freshness that all combine perfectly to create the best hot dog around.