Hot Dogs Across the Country: A ‘Frank’ Examination

Posted by Margaret Dunham

Think your hot dog is frankly the best? Depending on where you live, the ideal dog might have anything from jalapenos to cream cheese! Relish our regional differences with a virtual tour of our nation’s most ubiquitous food.

New York City
In a town of 8 million with huge cultural (and culinary) diversity, the hot dog remains decidedly plain. Whether you’re stopping by the iconic Nathan’s or grabbing a snack from a sidewalk cart, the NYC hot dog is a kosher dog topped with a little brown mustard, plain ketchup, onions, or sauerkraut.

Kansas City 
The Reuben dog, made famous at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, tips its hat to the Reuben sandwich with melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing tucked into a sesame seed bun.

If you’re getting a hot dog in this town, stop by the Varsity and order yours “dragged through the garden.” Your authentic Atlanta order will come covered in the local favorite side dish/condiment – coleslaw.

Hot dogs here are anything but plain: in the Windy City, hot dogs are buried in yellow mustard, dark green relish, chopped onion, sliced tomatoes, sport peppers (spicy pickled green peppers), celery salt and pickle spears. 

Phoenix and Tuscon
In the mood for bacon? Sonoran dogs are wrapped in bacon and grilled before being tucked into a bolillo roll with any combination of pinto beans, grilled onions, green peppers, chopped tomatoes, relish, tomatillo jalapeno salsa, salsa verde, mayonnaise, guacamole, mustard and shredded cheese.

Here the hot dogs are all-beef franks or Polish sausages. First the dog is grilled and then it is split lengthwise and filled with cream cheese. Optional toppings include grilled onions, jalapenos, grilled cabbage, Sriracha, barbeque sauce, or pico de gallo. 
Author’s note: I’ve tried this one myself, and it’s pretty (weirdly) delicious.

Here the hot dog is called a Coney (a salute to NYC’s Coney Island, a popular hot dog spot), and it’s an all-beef frank in a steamed bun  topped with raw white onion, yellow mustard, a large portion of shredded cheddar and “Coney Sauce” – a bean-free chili traditionally made with beef.

The Rockie Dog, popular at Coors Field and named for the home team, is a foot-long frank topped with the eater’s choice of grilled peppers, sauerkraut and onions.

The Fenway Frank, named for Fenway Park, is served up boiled with a New England style bun with mustard and relish. 

Here the hot dog to have is the Polish Boy – a grilled kielbasa-style sausage topped with barbeque and hot sauce. In Cleveland, the side dishes aren’t on the side: coleslaw and fries are piled right on top of the hot dog!

Skinny all-beef “Italian hot dogs” are deep fried before being packed into pizza bread with onions (sautéed or fried), red peppers, and potato rounds.

Rhode Island
The "New York System" is typically and all-beef hot dog topped with meat sauce, mustard, chopped onion, and celery salt, and served in side-cut rolls rather than traditional hot dog buns.

San Francisco and LA
The Tijuana dog is wrapped in bacon and fried, and can be topped with french fried onions and mayonnaise. They are normally purchased from street vendors and enjoyed with nagging doubts about the quality of the hot dog.

Across the USA you can find hot dogs of all shapes, flavors, and styles. If you come across a new variety or topping, tweet to let us know!