2000s Archive

What’s Your Favorite Hot Dog?

Originally Published October 2009
We asked an eclectic cast of characters to name their preferred frankfurter and ended up with an excellent guide—from the classic to the newfangled, and no tofu pup in between.

HALL “HOOVER” HUNT (competitive eater): SLAW DOGS
“The only hot dog I eat recreationally. It is basically a hot dog that’s covered with the best fixings, like delicious sweet and crunchy coleslaw.”

“The ‘Big Ben’ (named for the Steelers’ quarterback) is topped with seven french fries, coleslaw, and melted Cheddar cheese—a strangely delicious combo.”

BEV EGGLESTON (farmer and founder of EcoFriendly Foods, in Virginia): ECOFRIENDLY FOODS HOT DOGS
“I like my own hot dog! It’s a sixty-forty beef-pork mix, and it’s made with humanely raised meats.”

(chef-owner of The French Laundry, in Yountville, California, and Per Se, in New York City): FRANKS FROM STADIUM VENDORS
“Hot dogs aren’t really my favorite, but I do get them at the ballpark. They are a tradition.”

JEROME CHANG (chef-owner of New York City’s DessertTruck): HEBREW NATIONAL
“With sauerkraut. Like what I ate growing up.”

JANE AND MICHAEL STERN (contributing editors, GOURMET): GENE & JUDE’S HOT DOGS, CHICAGO, (708-452-7634)
“While many people define a Chicago hot dog by a surfeit of condiments, Gene & Jude’s doesn’t. Dressing here is minimal—only mustard, onions, relish, and little sport peppers. No baroque additions.”

OSAMA EL-SAYED (Manhattan street vendor): STREET HOT DOGS
“From a cart, of course. In New York. Mustard, ketchup, onions.”

DAN KNOLL (third-generation cattle rancher, working in Montana and South Dakota): NIMAN RANCH ALL BEEF FEARLESS FRANKS
“I like them in the summer with my secret BBQ sauce. In the fall, they should be enjoyed with chili, cheese, and chopped onions.”

MICHAEL RUHLMAN (author of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking): VIENNA BEEF FRANKS
“We have them ritually on the Fourth of July, with minced onion and Stadium Mustard (a great Cleveland mustard).”

PATRICK McENROE (captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team and TV tennis commentator): PAPAYA KING, NEW YORK CITY
“Mustard only. As a native New Yorker, it’s the highlight of each year’s trip to the U.S. Open.”

RUTH REICHL (editor in chief, GOURMET): GRAY’S PAPAYA (three locations in Manhattan; 212-799-0243)
“For many New Yorkers—me among them—it is the comforting taste of the city, and each bite murmurs, ‘You are home.’ ”

IRA GLASS (host of Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life): SUPERDAWG DRIVE-IN, CHICAGO
“A favorite because of their old-school graphics, and because every superdawg comes with superfries.”

DANNY MEYER (restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group): SHAKE SHACK SHACK-CAGO DOG, NEW YORK CITY
“We stay pretty true to the Chicago classic—a Vienna all-beef hot dog and a poppy seed bun—and then we ‘drag it through the garden,’ layering on all the classic toppings.”

CHRISTINE McENTYRE (executive director of Diamond Dachshund Rescue of Texas): KIOLBASSA’S SAUSAGES
“We have our annual adopters’ reunion in October each year. For the past few years, we have been lucky enough to have Kiolbassa, from San Antonio, donate for the event. So I would have to shamelessly pitch my preference for this type of hot dog—second only to our little four-legged rescued hot dogs!”

TOMMY LASORDA (manager, National Baseball Hall of Fame): DODGER DOGS (Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles)
“Everybody loves Dodger Dogs. I only eat Dodger Dogs. Any way I can get ’em.”

CELESTE ALBERS (South Carolina chicken and dairy farmer): WELLSHIRE FARMS BEEF FRANKS
“I like them cooked on the grill and topped with spicy deli mustard, sweet relish, and Sea Island sweet onions. My daughter likes them basically burned, with ketchup.”

DAVID SAX (author of Save the Deli): GIBEAU ORANGE JULEP, MONTREAL (514-738-7486)
“Along with smoked meat, Montreal’s contribution to heart attacks includes the steamée, slang for ‘steamed hot dog.’ They’re topped exclusively with onion, relish, and mustard. Ideally eaten in the back of my late grandfather’s blue Oldsmobile Cutlass.”

“Doug Sohn, a culinary school grad, opened this hot dog shop, single-handedly started the duck-fat-fry craze in Chicago (and the country?), and has garnered such a following that there’s always a line around the block.”

“A classic Jersey chili dog; cooked in the fryer.”

“The house-made hot dog is a testament to how much TLC goes into the food here.”

JOHN FLANSBURGH (one half of They Might Be Giants): KATZ’S DELI, NEW YORK CITY
“You can grab a quick dog inside. And the ‘well-done’ ones cooked on the side of the grill are the best.”

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