Well, hot dog!
There are few things quite as quintessentially summer as a charred hot dog poolside, in the stands of a baseball stadium, or at a cookout with friends and family. It’s a nostalgic entrée oh-so-easy to make, yet one we tend to save for occasions (or when lunch is forgotten and a vendor is nearby). Whether you microwave, boil, bake, or grill, this summer staple is the perfect meal to bring summer to a close.
And while we all love a classic hot dog, might we recommend spicing it up? Allow yourself to be transported from your home to Wrigley Field, Coney Island, and beyond by exploring the different hot dogs of the U.S.
New York City and hot dogs just go together, which is why you might find yourself with a few varieties. With stands on every street corner and home of the original Nathan’s Hot Dogs, this city has made a name for itself in the world of franks. The Coney Dog, originating on, you guessed it, Coney Island, features a Vienna beef hotdog, a heaping topping of beef sauce, mustard, and onions. And who can we thank for this savory creation? None other than your Greek and Polish ancestors who crossed through Ellis Island, bringing with them a dish unlike any New Yorkers had ever seen; needless to say it quickly became a staple.
The New York Dog
And while a Coney Dog might be a New York staple (and what many tourists are probably expecting), it’s not what NYC residents would consider their hot dog. On just about every city corner what you’ll find is not the beef sauce covered variation, but instead the incredibly simple but always iconic dog that New Yorkers can’t get enough of: a bun, frank, spicy brown mustard, tomato paste, and sautéed onions (yes, this is what you’ve been smelling since your plane touched down).
Do not even think about asking for ketchup. Chicago is known for many things, a few essential ones being: the metal mound in the center of downtown commonly known as The Bean, Michael Jordan, and being vehemently anti-ketchup. The famous Chicago Dog might sound a little over the top, but the toppings—yellow mustard, onions, relish, a dill pickle, tomatoes, sport peppers, and celery salt (I told you it was a lot!)—pair perfectly with the snappy all-beef frankfurter and poppy seed bun.
If you’re headed to the South, be ready for a creamy rendition of this summer staple. At Atlanta’s popular Dog Days and Hot Dogs and Burgers, your “Georgia” hot dog order will come topped with coleslaw, a Southern favorite. This cold, sweet, and creamy topping perfectly contrasts the charred dog, making the otherwise heavy meal a little more refreshing.
Get ready to enjoy your frankfurter with a side of fiber, as Boston slings out their dogs with a topping of baked beans. While not necessarily unique to Boston, this New England city is where you’ll find this variation the most prevalent, as well as what you’ll be served at Fenway Stadium (the city-defining dog tends to be the one to accompany their baseball games). So, if clam chowder isn’t really your thing, look toward this Boston spin on the hot dog, complete with relish, mustard, and baked beans—it’s everything from the cookout packed into one bun.
Kansas City Dog
While Kansas City might be more widely known for it’s BBQ, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own signature hot dog. While you might be expecting something smoky and smothered in BBQ sauce from a city with such a prized sandwich, their hotdog takes on a different flavor palate. If trying a different flavor of the Kansas City culinary scene interests you, give their pork sausage dog covered in brown mustard, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese a try (and perhaps pack a breath mint).
San Fran Dog
While California might be known as being the health-fad epicenter of the U.S., the San Francisco hot dog strays far from that reputation. While the toppings may differ from place to place, the basic idea here is that you have a hot dog wrapped in bacon dressed for whatever your taste buds are craving that day—some go the spicy route with jalapenos while others opt for a BLT variation, adding lettuce and tomatoes. No matter what direction you choose to take the frank, the San Francisco way will always star the same: a trusty hot dog wrapped and fried in bacon.
*Update: This article has been correct to remove references to Turner Field.