25 Regional Hot Dog Styles across the USA

Eating, History

The hot dog is the most American of foods.

Inspired by sausages from German immigrants, improved by entrepreneurial newcomers to America’s shores, and beloved for more than a century by every social class, the hot dog represents America in ways no other food can. Yet as much as hot dogs unify every barbecue from coast to coast, they also divide, as the humble hot dog is among the most regional dishes in the country. During the summer months, barbecuing seems like a no-brainer. Among the burgers, ribs, chicken, and whatever else is cooking, hot dogs likely have a place on the table.

While there are many regional hot dog styles, these are the most notable variants from coast to coast. These should be on everyone’s hot-dog bucket list. How many have you tried?

Image from: eatsbythebeach.com

Dirty-Water Dog

Place of origin: The streets of New York City

The dog: A skinless, all-beef kosher dog (usually Hebrew National or Sabrett) boiled in a deep tank of questionably sanitary water, topped with a stripe of spicy, pale yellow, deli style mustard, a spoonful of red onion mystery sauce (optional), and handed over in a soft white bun.

Quintessential place to try it: Hot dog carts throughout New York City

Image from: thespruceeats.com

Italian Hot Dog

Place of origin: New Jersey

The dog: An authentic Italian hot dog is served in a specially made “pizza bread” which is fashioned into a pocket (like a pita) then coated with mustard on one side and sweet ketchup on the other. The pillowy bread is then stuffed with one or two spicy all beef hot dogs (preferably from Best Provisions) cooked in hot oil. Next, onions and red and green peppers (also cooked in hot oil) are stuffed into the fresh-baked bread. The dog is then topped with thickly sliced, deep-fried potatoes. Choice of mustard, ketchup or red sauce, doused sparingly.

Quintessential places to try it:
Jimmy Buff’s
60 Washington Street
West Orange, NJ 07052
(973) 325-9869
https://www.jimmybuffs.com

Image from: tasteatlas.com

Dickie Dee’s
380 Bloomfield Avenue
Newark, NJ 07107
(973) 483-9369
https://www.dickiedees.net/

Image from: foodrepublic.com

Ripper

Place of origin: Clifton, NJ (and surrounding areas)

The dog: A deep-fried, pork and beef dog, in natural casing that tears and crinkles (i.e. rips) during the cooking process. Dressed with mustard and/or spicy sweet relish and served in a regular or toasted hot dog bun. Brave? Order a Weller (a well done ripper) or a Cremator (which is well beyond well done).

Quintessential place to try it:
Rutt’s Hut (since 1928)
417 River Road
Clifton, NJ 07104
(973) 779-8615
https://www.ruttshut.com

Image from: jerseybites.com

Texas Wiener

Place of origin: Surprisingly not Texas. Plainfield and Patterson, New Jersey, both claim the honor.

The dog: A beef dog, grilled and topped with spicy mustard, chopped raw onion, and “Greek sauce” (a smooth, chili-like sauce made with ground meat and seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and cayenne).

Quintessential place to try it:
Texas Wiener 1
100 Watchung Avenue
Plainfield, NJ 07060
(908) 756-5480

Image from: bar-s.com

Baltimore Bologna Dog

Place of origin: Baltimore, Maryland 

The dog: A kosher, all-beef dog, griddled, lined with yellow mustard (relish and chopped onion optional), fit snugly into a freshly baked roll.

Quintessential place to try it:
Attmans (since 1915) Delicatessen
1019 East Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 563-2666
https://attmansdeli.com/

Image from: tastingtable.com

Philly Combo

Place of origin: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The dog: A grilled, all-beef hot dog, split down the middle and placed upon a wide steamed or toasted bun, layered with sweet, vinegar-based coleslaw and a stripe of spicy mustard (so far so good) but look underneath and you will find a fish cake. Yes, a fish cake. It’s a Philly thing!

Quintessential place to try it:
Johnny’s Hots
1234 North Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 423-2280

Image from: reddit.com

Troy Mini Hot Dogs

Place of origin: Troy/Albany, NY region

The dog: Typically eaten ten at a time, the mini hot dog is a hyper localized regional style originating in Troy, New York. The tiny dogs, produced by local butcher shops, are served on three-inch buns and traditionally topped with spicy meat sauce, yellow mustard, and onions.

Quintessential place to try it:
Famous Lunch
111 Congress Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 272-9481
https://www.worldfamouslunch.com/

Image from: tastingtable.com

Michigan Red Hot

Place of origin: Plattsburgh, NY, and the surrounding area

The dog: An all-beef frank steamed in a natural casing, doused in meat chili (no beans), covered with chopped raw onion and mustard, and loaded into a steamed, New England-style, split-top bun. To casual observers, it might look like a chili dog, but to people in upstate NY, it is a rare gem. Why is it called a Michigan Red Hot? The original sauce recipe supposedly came from a Detroit woman who moved to Plattsburgh, hence the name Michigan.

Quintessential place to try it:
Gus’ Red Hots
5 Commodore Thomas MacDonough Highway
Plattsburg, NY 12901
(518) 735-0936
https://www.gusredhots.com

Image from: en.wikipedia.org

Half-Smokes

Place of origin: Washington, DC, metro area

The dog: Less a hot dog and more an oversized spicy sausage. A coarse pork and/or beef burger topped with pork-and-beef chili or all-beef chili, mustard and chopped grilled onions, all stuffed in a steamed bun.

Quintessential place to try it:
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1001 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 733-1895
https://www.benschilibowl.com

Image from: newengland.com

Main Red Snappers

Place of origin: Maine

The dog: A Maine Red Snapper is either grilled or griddled, then lodged in a buttered and toasted roll or popped into a steamed top-split bun. They get their name from their distinctive red-colored casing (result of coloring) and the snap accomplished by the use of natural lamb casings. They’re served with whatever topping you like; in this case, the dog is all about the meat itself, not a particular combination of toppings.

Quintessential place to try it:
W.A Bean & Sons Meat Market
229 Bomarc Road #1
Bangor, ME 04401
(207) 946-0364
https://www.beansmeats.com/

Image from: newengland.com

The Fenway Frank

Place of origin: Boston, MA

The dog: The Fenway Frank is a beef-and-pork dog that’s boiled then grilled then placed inside a New England-style, split-top bun and topped with mustard and relish, though many choose to add a scoop of Boston baked beans.

Quintessential place to try it:
Fenway Park
4 Jersey Street
Boston, MA 12215
(877) 733-7699
https://www.mlb.com/redsox/ballpark

Image from: newenglandtravelnews.blogspot.com

NY System Wiener

Place of origin: Rhode Island

The dog: A grilled, all-beef hot dog in natural casing, garnished with meat sauce, mustard, chopped raw onion, and celery salt, and enclosed in a steamed side-cut roll.

Quintessential place to try it:
Olneyville New York System Restaurant
18 Plainfield Street
Providence, RI 02909
(401) 621-9500
https://www.olneyvillenewyorksystem.com/

What’s with the name?
Founders Nicholas Stevens and his father Anthony emigrated from Greece to the United States in the 1920s and settled in Brooklyn, York New, while they operated a candy shop (that’s the NY part). In the 1930s they moved the entire family to Rhode Island and opened a small restaurant at 8 Olneyville Square in Providence (that’s the Olneyville part). The same family continues to run two restaurants to this day.

Image from: cheerleadershotdogs.com

Texas Tommy

Place of origin: Pottstown, PA (near Philadelphia). 

The dog: The origin of the name is unclear and it has been suggested that name may have been devised per the general branding of hot dogs as “Texan” on the East Coast (Wikipedia). A Texas Tommy consists of a toasted bun with a split and grilled or fried hot dog, crispy slices of bacon, and heaps of Cheez Whiz. Now that’s a delicious Philly thing.

Quintessential place to try it:
Famous Franks A-lot
51 North 12th Street (Reading Terminal Market)
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 625-9991
https://famousfranksalot.com/

Image from: si.com

Crab Mac n’ Cheese Dog

Place of origin: Camden Yards, Baltimore, MD

The dog: An all-beef hot dog, grilled and placed into a soft, chewy bun, then loaded with lump crab meat, hot gooey macaroni and cheese, and an ample dusting of Old Bay.

Quintessential place to try it:
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
333 West Camden Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 685-9800
https://www.mlb.com/orioles

Image from: pamsdailydish.com

Slaw Dogs

The place of origin: The South

The dog: Popular throughout the South, these (typically) all-beef dogs are usually topped with chili slaw, cole slaw, raw onion, minced chili, or BBQ slaw. Inasmuch as this hot dog is prevalent over a large area, there are many variations depending on where you go.

Quintessential place to try it:
Nu Way Weiners
6016 Zebulon Road
Macon, GA 31210
(478) 474-5933
https://www.nu-wayweiners.com


Note: Nu-Way Weiners has many locations throughout central Georgia

Image from: ledger-enquirer.com

Scrambled Dogs

Place of origin: Columbus, GA

The dog: The only hot dog on this list that requires a bowl. A local favorite was invented in Columbus, the scrambled dog was a concoction invented by long time cook Charles Stevens. It’s a chopped hot dog, complete with bun, completely drenched in chili, pickles, onions, and topped with oyster crackers. You can even add coleslaw if you want.

Quintessential place to try it:
Dinglewood Pharmacy
1939 Wynton Road
Columbus, GA 31906
(706) 322-0616
https://www.dinglewoodpharmacy.com

Image from: cooking.nytimes.com

Chicago Dog

Place of origin: Chicago, IL

The dog: Vienna Beef franks are the standard in the Windy City, but the toppings are really what make a Chicago-style hot dog stand out. The dog is steamed or charred and placed in a poppy seed bun. Then it’s “dragged through the garden” i.e topped with tomato slices, celery salt, dill pickle spears, chopped white onions, green onion relish, peppers, and yellow mustard and absolutely no ketchup. In many Chicago hot dog joints ketchup is not allowed, don’t even ask.

Quintessential place to try it:
Dave’s Red Hots (oldest hot dog stand in the city)
3422 West Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60624
(773) 722-9935

Image from: potatorolls.com

Kansas City Reuben Hot Dogs

Place of origin: Kansas City, MO

The dog: When you think of Kansas City eats, what first pops into your head is likely either Kansa City barbecue or their world famous barbecue sauce. Surprisingly, a Kansas City hot dog doesn’t have much to do with either of those. While hot dogs drenched in barbecue sauce can readily be had throughout the city, a real Kansas City hot dog features grilled sauerkraut, Swiss cheese (slightly melted), caraway seeds, and plenty of Thousand Island dressing.

Quintessential place to try it:
Kauffman Stadium (Home of the Kansas City Royals baseball team)
1 Royal Way
Kansas City, MO 64129
(816) 921-8000
https://www.mlb.com/royals/ballpark

Image from: thehotdog.org

Detroit Coney

Place of origin: Detroit, MI

The dog: Small-ish all beef or beef-and-pork dog, dropped into a steamed bun and bathed in Coney sauce (a salty, beanless chili made from beef heart and spices), mustard, chopped raw onion, and lots of shredded cheddar cheese.

Quintessential place to try it:
Lafayette Coney Island
118 West Lafayette Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 964-8189

Image from: cincinnatimagazine.com

Cincinnati Coney

The place of origin: Cincinnati, OH

The dog: While chili is a common topping for hot dogs, not all chili is created equal. Bad chili can ruin a hot dog in an instant. Conversely, great chili can carry a hot dog. Cincinnati chili is world renowned, so it makes sense that a great chili-powered hot dog can be found here. A Cincinnati Coney is an all-beef hot dog with a generous helping of Cincinnati chili (ground beef and pork blend, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cocoa powder) plus mustard, chopped raw onion, and shredded cheddar piled into a steamed bun.

Quintessential place to try it:
Mr. Gene’s Dog House
3703 Beekman Street
Cincinnati, OH 45223
(513) 541-7636
https://www.mrgenesdoghouse.com

Image from: tastingtable.com

The Polish Boy

Place of origin: Cleveland, OH

The dog: The Polish Boy is a grilled kielbasa sausage on a sturdy roll, topped with coleslaw, French fries, and a healthy pour of barbecue sauce and hot sauce.

Quintessential place to try it:
Seti’s Polish Boys (food truck)
West 42nd Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 240-0745
https://www.facebook.com/setispolishboys/

Image from: today.com

Seattle Dogs

Place of origin: Seattle, WA

The dog: There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of a Seattle dog unless you’ve been to the namesake or select parts of the Pacific Northwest. Yet, what the Seattle lacks in name recognition, it makes up for with a unique topping combination: cream cheese and sautéed onions. A frank or brat, is grilled, split in half, and rested on a toasted bun, then covered in cream cheese and grilled onions. Jalapeno slices are a common addition, along with mustard, sriracha, and barbecue sauce.

Quintessential place to try it:
Matt’s Hot Dogs
6615 East Marginal Way
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 768-0418
https://mattshotdogs.com

Image from: telegraph.co.uk

L.A. Dogs

Place of origin: Los Angeles, CA

The dog: All-beef, natural casing dogs that are wrapped in bacon, topped with grilled peppers and grilled onions, and with mayonnaise, ketchup, and jalapenos. It’s even more incredible than it sounds.

Quintessential place to try it:
Pink’s Hot Dogs
709 North La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 932-4223
https://www.pinkshollywood.com/

Image from: myfoodandfamily.com

Sonoran Dog

Place of origin: Mexico

The dog: Having originated in Hermosillo, the capital of the Mexican state of Sonora, the Sonoran dog traveled north and now is popular in Arizona, Phoenix, and Tuscan, in particular. Like the hot dogs from California, a Sonoran dog is wrapped in bacon. It’s then grilled until it gets extra crispy. From there, the bacon wrapped hot dog is placed inside a savory bolillo roll (variation of a baguette but shorter). Finally, it’s topped with pinto beans, grilled green peppers, grilled onions, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, mayo, relish, mustard, and a salsa from tomatillos and jalapenos. Don’t let the ingredients intimidate you. One bite, and you’ll be in hot dog heaven.

Quintessential place to try:
Nogales Hot Dogs No2
1945 East Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016
(602) 527-0208
https://www.facebook.com/NogalesHotDogsNo2/

Note: Locations throughout Phoenix

Image from: eatthismuch.com

Idaho Super Tuber

Place of origin: Boise, ID

The dog: Idaho is best known for its spuds, so it makes sense that many of the hot dog offerings have potatoes incorporated into the mix. An all-beef hot dog (or sausage) is placed in a toasted bun and then topped with grilled, shredded hash browns, and cheddar and jack cheeses.

Quintessential place to try it:
Dave’s Tater Grill (food cut)
110 North Hill Street
Kellogy, ID 83837
https://www.facebook.com/davestatergrill/

Image from: thespruceeats.com

Puka Dog

Place of origin: Hawaii

The dog: Essentially a larger, more interesting take on pigs in blankets, this Hawaiian specialty features a grilled Polish sausage cradled inside a freshly baked sweet bread. The bun (called a puka for the hole in the center) is where this hot dog style gets its name. Each dog comes with a garlic-lemon secret sauce (ranging in heat from mild to lava) and a bit of Hawaiian fruit relish such as mango, pineapple, coconut, and papaya. Mustard and ketchup can make an appearance.

Quintessential place to try it:
Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs
2100 Hoone Road
Poipu, HI 96756
(808) 742-6044
https://www.pukadog.com/#video