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Shorty’s Serves the Best Hot Dog in Seattle

Shorty’s Serves the Best Hot Dog in Seattle

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The hot dog was introduced to the United States more than 100 years ago, when German immigrants first brought over their frankfurters and started selling them on the cheap, at places like Coney Island’s Nathan's Famous, arguably ground zero for American hot dog consumption. But then, people began developing their own spice mixes and making their own hot dogs, and every region and group of people put its unique stamp on the snack. In Chicago they top all-beef dogs with mustard, fresh tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, bright green relish, dill pickles, and celery salt. Spicy Texas Red Hots are popular in New Jersey, but not in Texas, while Greek immigrants in Michigan concocted a cinnamon-rich beef chili that came to be known as Coney sauce, but it has nothing to do with Coney Island. The uncured, unsmoked White Hot is popular in upstate New York; the regional variations go on and on.

On our quest to find America’s best hot dogs, we kept an eye out for places with a definitive style of hot dog, one which embodies the region’s particular tastes and the culinary traditions of its people. We also made sure to take into account online reviews from locals as well as the dog's overall reputation among those in-the-know, and the quality of the ingredients – namely sourcing the franks from well-known local producers, was also important. Sadly, there were some renowned institutions that didn’t make the cut. While the original Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island very well might be the most well-known hot dog stand in America, it didn’t make our cut because the buns have been stale every time we’ve eaten there and it’s sadly resting on its laurels at this point (even though the fries are admittedly delicious). And while the pretzel dog at chain Auntie Anne’s has its loyal devotees, the experience isn’t exactly sublime.

Our list runs the gamut from ancient stands that have been serving the same exact product day in and day out for decades to gastropubs putting their unique stamp on the hot dog to a place where people wait in line for more than an hour for one topped with foie gras. There’s one constant thread between them, though: they’re our country’s best – and, as it turns out, one resides in Seattle.

Shorty’s really has it all: A bar, a full pinball arcade, a bizarre-circus atmosphere, and insanely delicious hot dogs. They start simply enough, with wieners from Vienna beef (special sausages include a German-style sausage and a delicious veggie dog), and come in Chicago-style, with chili and cheese, and even with tomatoes, cream cheese, and peppers. But you’d be hard-pressed to find something to wash down your beer that’s better than their classic Shorty Dog, simply topped with onions, relish, and sauerkraut. One of these, a couple beers, and some pinball? That’s what we call a good time. It’s so good, the Shorty Dog snagged the #34 spot on our list, and since it’s the only hot dog from Seattle to make it onto our list, it’s the undisputed best hot dog in the Emerald City.

The 15 Best Places for Hot Dogs in Seattle

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/> Cheapism: Relish an all-beef hot dog and fries for around $5. Try the chili or the Chicago dog, or opt for a tasty Polish sausage. Open weekdays only. Read more.

/> Carol Allen: If you want the best all beef gourmet hot dog in Seattle, you have visit Matt's.

/> Neil Stamp: Chili Dog with mustard and onions is the best around!

/> The Seattle Times: A haunt for many bartenders. Those aren't slot machines you're hearing. They're pinball machines. Hot dogs, popular not just for the hung-over at night but also for the hungry during the day. Read more.

/> Matt Sipple: Best Chicago dog in town.

/> Susi Stuart: The hot dogs are amazing (duh), the beer is cheap (again, duh), and the bartenders are very rad if you're not an asshole. It's my replacement for Minneapolis' Triple Rock.

5 Favorite Regional Takes on the Hot Dog

A map of regional hot dogs around the country would likely feature at least as many different combinations of condiments, dogs and garnishes as there are states in the union. You can’t quite find them all here yet, but many national favorites can be found on menus of local dog stands, from the famous Chicago dog to Seattle’s own cream cheese dog. Find our favorite takes here.

1. Edgar’s Cantina
In the American Southwest, the Sonoran dog reigns supreme: bacon-wrapped, grilled and served with beans, grilled peppers, chopped tomatoes and onions, mayo, mustard and salsa verde. Other than the pop-up Bocado’s brief stint (fingers crossed it returns to do business this summer), the only place to get anything close to the Sonoran is the bacon-wrapped dog ($9.50) at Edgar’s in the stadium, served with grilled onions and jalapeños, and topped with chipotle sauce.
Edgar’s Cantina, Safeco Field, 1250 First Ave. S

2. Monster Dogs
Seattle’s hot dog specialty may not be as well-known as others from around the country, but it isn’t a late night in Seattle if the cart doesn’t serve hot dogs ($6) with grilled onions and cream cheese (and probably Sriracha, too), which Monster Dogs does every night.
Monster Dogs, Multiple locations, including 10th and E Pike

3. Diggity Dog Hot Dog & Sausage
This casual Tangletown favorite has a menu of burgers and deli sandwiches, but everyone is there for one thing—the extensive selection of regional dogs. They take quite a few liberties with their Chicago dog (no poppy seed bun, pepperoncinis instead of sport peppers, pickle chips instead of spears and no flourescent green relish), but it’s still the best $7.50 you can spend to satiate the craving.
Diggity Dog Hot Dog & Sausage, Tangletown, 5421 Meridian Ave. N 206.633.1966

4. Dante’s Inferno Dogs
New York
Dante’s Cart, once a fixture in the late-night scene in Seattle, now shows up weekly at the Ballard Farmers Market, but while the clientele might be younger (and more awake), the classic New York–style dog ($4)—all-beef, simple, pulled right out of the cart and topped with mustard,—has stayed the same.
Dante’s Inferno Dogs, Various locations

5. Shorty’s
You’ll find plenty of regional treasures on the all-dog menu at this pinball arcade, but what it calls the “chili cheese bigtop” ($6.50) is actually a take on Detroit’s Coney dog: smothered in chili and cheese, garnished with onions.
Shorty’s, Belltown, 2222 Second Ave. 206.441.5449

America’s 10 Best Regional Hot Dog Styles


One of the most well-known, the Chicago-Style Hot Dog is served on a poppy seed bun with pickles, mustard, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and relish. Contrary to common tradition, in Chicago, people don’t add ketchup to their hot dogs. Pickles and relish are the way to go.

New York City

Hot dogs in the Big Apple are usually topped with sauerkraut, spicy mustard, and steamed onions with a tomato paste. Everyone’s always on the go in New York CIty, so they like to keep their hot dogs simple enough to walk around with or take to the park, yet delicious.


What’s unique about the Seattle-Style Hot Dog, also referred to as the Seattle Dog, is the added element of cream cheese that makes it stand out. It has onions and occasionally jalapenos as well, and it’s common to add sriracha sauce to make it hot and get that extra kick.


Atlanta-Style Hot Dogs are typically served in a top-sliced bun, topped with onions and a ton of coleslaw to make them extra crunchy. And hey, it’s got vegetables – so you can say it’s moderately healthy.

Kansas City

Half sandwich, half hot dog, the Kansas City Hot Dog is served on a sesame seed bun with a pork sausage, sauerkraut, brown mustard, and melted Swiss cheese. This delicious mix will keep you satisfied for a while.

Tucson- and Phoenix-Style

Inspired by Mexican cuisine and served throughout Tucson, Phoenix, and other parts of Southern Arizona, the Sonoran Hot Dog has a mix of tomatoes, beans, mustard, mayonnaise, minced onions, and last but not least, green chile sauce. It actually originated in Hermosillo, a city in the Mexican State of Sonora.


In Jersey the hot dogs are usually deep-fried in a pizza bread or roll. Topped with onions, potatoes, and peppers, this Italian-style hot dog is probably one of the most filling (and spicy) that you’ll find.


Cincinnati Chili Dogs are topped with mustard, onions, a ton of cheese, and most importantly, chili. They’re simple enough that you can enjoy one at the park, but delicious enough to leave you feeling fulfilled and fully satisfied.


While the Philadelphia Hot Dog varies by location, the basic principles are the same. It contains beef, sauerkraut, relish, onions, ketchup, and mustard. The sauces can be spicy or mild and the onions can be raw or fully cooked.


Last but not least, the Cleveland-Style Hot Dog, also known as the Polish Boy, is served with french fries, sweet barbeque or hot sauce, and a layer of coleslaw. It’s usually made with a hot dog or ‘kielbasa’, otherwise known as Polish sausage.

So there you have it – ten of America’s best hot dogs, by region. If you’re traveling and looking to grab the best-tasting hot dogs, try them out for yourself and see how much they differ by region. Or if you want to try making them at home, search for a recipe and see which combinations you like best.

Recipe Summary

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 Walla Walla or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 4 hot dogs, or your favorite sausages
  • 4 hot dog buns
  • brown mustard
  • 1 cup sauerkraut

Preheat grill or grill pan for medium-high heat.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and cook slowly until the onions have softened and turned deep brown, about 15 minutes. Warm the cream cheese over low heat in a small skillet until very soft.

Grill hot dogs until well browned. Lightly grill hot dog buns on both sides.

To assemble cheese dogs, spread warm cream cheese on toasted hot dog bun, add hot dog or sausage, top with onions, mustard and sauerkraut, if desired.


An institution in Washington! Classic, reliable hot dogs and delicious fries with gravy.

Service is the fastest around! Seat yourself and be ready to order. I typically get two (hot dogs - but you don't have to say this when ordering, it's assumed) with just ketchup and my husband gets two with everything plus ketchup. Sometimes we split a large order of fries with gravy - add salt and pepper to these for the perfect balance.

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  • Sheila E.
  • Louisville, KY
  • 0 friends
  • 11 reviews
  • 1 photo

Wonderful hotdogs and great fries with gravy. Great service. Would highly recommend. A +++

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  • Calvin C.
  • Washington, PA
  • 0 friends
  • 2 reviews
  • 10 photos

Best Hot Dogs and original old time diner atmosphere around. For an extra treat, order fries with gravy with your meal. If you have never been to Shorty's ask how to order your hot dogs, because they come with chili sauce, onions and mustard unless you tell them to not include them. If you want a cheeseburger, you need to bring your own cheese.

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  • F. L.
  • Rochester, NY
  • 5 friends
  • 380 reviews
  • 21 photos

5 stars for hot dogs and atmosphere
4 stars for chili sauce
3 stars for fries

It's very crowded despite being in a rather run-down town. Washington PA isn't exactly a tourist hub, so it's fun local atmosphere etc, they have their craft down and an appropriately limited menu. Hot dogs had a good snap, I wish they'd put on a bit more chili since it was too mild for me to clearly taste in the bun and all. Fries were hot but not that tasty, didn't seem fresh-cut like the O in Oakland or anything. I'd return if in the area.

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  • Angela P.
  • Hiller, PA
  • 3 friends
  • 7 reviews
  • 1 photo

Their Chili Dogs are amazing. and hot fries with gravy. mmmm!

Service is ALWAYS quick. This is a must visit when visiting Washington, PA. The in-town Shorty's is our favorite place over the Shorty's restaurant. You get the charm of the old time hot dog place. When my kids are in town, there is always at least one stop at Shorty's!

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Best chilidogs/hotdogs and fries in western PA hands down. Love the oldschool atmosphere, service, and prices. Love this place.

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I wish I could give this Shorty's a 6-7 star rating but I'll settle for 5 stars !! My husband & I ate once at another Shorty's location but we like the original one in downtown Washington the best. When you walk into this place. it's like stepping back in time. When you imagine an old fashioned diner, you think of this one. Even though it really has an old feel to it, it's always been very clean !! My husband used to eat here with his dad when he was a little kid. His dad worked at the courthouse & would take my husband to work & they would eat lunch there. The first time my husband took me here. I was pleasantly surprised & we've been eating there for almost 30 yrs. now !!
I always get 2 hot dogs with everything & the tasty gravy fries !! My husband gets 3 dogs with everything & gravy fries with a glass of buttermilk. (I don't know of many places you can get a glass of buttermilk. ) We've found the food to be totally DELICIOUS !! These gravy fries are simply the best I've ever eaten & there's always just the right amount of chili & onions on extremely awesome beef hot dogs !! The service is always very fast (even when they are packed)
& the staff very friendly. If you're looking to eat incredible chili dogs & gravy fries
(in a totally neat "old diner" atmosphere)
. I definately recommend the Shorty's in downtown Washington, PA !!

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  • Blaise P.
  • Canonsburg, PA
  • 114 friends
  • 367 reviews
  • 2304 photos
  • Elite ’21

I've been hearing a lot about this place from some locals to the area. Today I had the chance to swing by and see what the hype is all about. Parking was a breeze today but there's no a lot of parking spaces on the street so I'm assuming it fills up quick. On entering it was semi crowded in the booths so I sat at the counter. Sadly I was not greeted on entering. The place felt like nothing has changed since they opened. A very old school vibe keeping things neat and simple. I decided to order a hot dog with chili and onions and a order of fries with gravy. I wanna point out that my food was ready in no longer than two minutes super fast and was hot. The dog it's self was not very snappy but had a good taste. The bun was warm fresh and soft. The chili was tasteful not hearty very soupy like. The fries you could tell where frozen but cooked to perfection. The gravy was a great topping not salty like you would expect. One thing I wanna note is there is no cheese here and that was a bummer to me cause who doesn't love cheese on there hot dog or fries ? The prices are great coming in around $2 bucks a dog and $2 bucks for fries . If you drink sodapop your charged by the refill. The waiter was friendly and attentive refilling my water and making sure everything was ok. Overall I'll definitely be returning next time I'm in the area.

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  • Natalie G.
  • Washington, PA
  • 4 friends
  • 42 reviews
  • 1 photo

If you visit Washington, Pennsylvania, you have to stop at Shorty's. Their traditional hotdogs, hamburgers and fries haven't changed in decades, and their flavors are a staple of the community.

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  • Emilee D.
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 0 friends
  • 5 reviews
  • 2 photos

Even though the menu is small & simple. This is the perfect pit stop for hot dogs & freedom fries . If you're in the Washington area with a few dollars to spare, come here for a snack or meal. The customer service is warm & welcoming & your food will be out in a matter of minutes, piping hot!

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  • Kimberly T.
  • Downtown, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 771 friends
  • 777 reviews
  • 2852 photos

Shorty's is an old school tradition. They are known for their hot dogs. You walk in and see that it's never been remodeled. It's old but mostly clean. I ordered two hot dogs with chili-no cheese on the menu. The menu is actually pretty simple-hotdogs, fries , and roast beef sandwiches. We ordered a large fry with gravy. My hubby ordered a roast beef sandwich.
The hotdogs are just cheap hot dogs on cheap but fresh hot dog buns. They are $1.90 each. What made my dog so good was the chili on top. Again, basic but good. The fries were cooked perfectly and the gravy wasn't overly salty (which I thought they might be). The roast beef sandwich was plain. Just a simple hamburger bun with a slice of roast beef on it. The roast beef was tender. They also serve beer which surprised me bits is cheap beer-Coors Light, PBR kind of stuff.
The best part of this is not really the food but watching the dude making hot dogs. The waitresses shout out the orders and he stacks hot dogs up his arm over and over putting on the toppings. (I'm pretty sure that the Board of Health would approve but it's fascinating to watch.).

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  • Andrew H.
  • Lawrence, PA
  • 1 friend
  • 6 reviews
  • 7 photos

You can't go wrong with a shorty's chili dog with fries and a drunk. I prefer my fries workout gravy. I know. crazy! The service is great and the company is great! If you are in Washington. you gotta stop bye!

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  • Jan R.
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 0 friends
  • 99 reviews
  • 1 photo

I really was hoping to give this cute little diner a four or five stars review. I was really syked to visit this diner after reading all of the on-line reviews.

I was extremely disappointed in the hamburger. After one bite, I was done with it. I always eat my sandwich opened faced to save on calories and so that I can enjoy the meat more. This burger was beyond horrible. It definitely was a processed meat and frozen before being cooked. It reminded me of a high school cafeteria or something that you may get in a place where they have to stretch the dollar..

I love fries with gravy. They were served hot.

I loved the atmosphere!! The place is a flashback in time. Also, this place almost reminded me of a Harlem NYC diner. This is a positive statement.

The employees are nice and work very hard.

I do have a question. I know that the menu is consistent. The same thing day after day, year after year, and decade after decade. What is with the roast beef. How did that get on the daily menu??

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  • Lee D.
  • Honolulu, HI
  • 106 friends
  • 370 reviews
  • 8370 photos

I remember this place from when I was a kid. It is simple yet good. It isn't about the dog, but the sauce. Gravy fries are very well done as well. It is truly something from memory lane. Screw all these new fancy fusion crap places. Bring back classic Americana.

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  • Stephanie A.
  • Stevensville, MT
  • 97 friends
  • 140 reviews
  • 311 photos

This place is a staple in washpa.
Very limited menu: hamburger, hot dog, roast beef, I think one or two other things and fries .
My go to (and I think the only thing anyone should stop in for) is 2 with everything (that's 2 hot dogs with chili, onion, and mustard) and fries with gravy.
This is my favorite chili. It's simply and thick (pretty much meat and cumin).

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My favorite hotdogs in the world. I get 4 with everything fries and gravy eat the fries and dip the dogs in the left over gravy. perfect place to get lunch, kids love it, not real bad price, been there since i was born same owners. wife gets hot beef ad fries extra gravy. chocolate milk. i could eat here 3 days a week and once ate 8 dogs. i want one right now. i love shortys, if u like a good crisp wienie soft bun good chili onion you gotta hit it dogs cooking in the window on a hot stove with 50 years of flavor. wash pa heirloom.

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  • Nicole F.
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 85 friends
  • 98 reviews
  • 225 photos

I hate the hot dogs. They have casing on them. Burgers are okay. Little thin burgers. I love the fries with gravy. I also like the hot roast beef. One thing that is missing- no cheese in the place! Super cheap pricing.

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  • Stacie C.
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • 152 friends
  • 590 reviews
  • 2006 photos

I'm going to keep this review Shorty's and sweet. See what I did there?

Let me start by saying that a good friend has talked about Shorty's Lunch for years because she used to go there all the time as a kid. But seeing as it's a solid 40 minute drive away from my home, I just couldn't commit. Even for hot dogs and gravy fries . But Shorty's has been on my list of places to try for awhile.

Cut to last weekend when I happened to be in the Washington area for a wedding. Shorty's was not too far away so I decided to finally make the stop for a quick lunch. Quick would be an understatement.

Inside Shorty's Lunch is not that spacious with just a few booths and a counter. I sat at the counter, ordered two hot dogs with everything (mustard, chili, onions), gravy fries and an orange soda. The staff has their service down to a science. My waitress yelled to the front window to the guy manning the hot dog grill that she needed two with everything and then yelled to the kitchen that she needed a small gravy fry . (I heard the same order placed several times in my brief stay so this seems to be the more popular meal.) My food was in front of me within two minutes. The gravy fries were just what I wanted, not overly salted but generously covered with gravy. The hot dogs hit the spot. And while I've seen some people complain about the onions, I liked that they were smaller diced and added more texture than onion flavor (I don't like when the onion overpowers the taste of the other toppings). I was in and out of Shorty's within 15 minutes and my bill was around $7. My waitress was sure to ask if I wanted anything else (including a refill before my cup was empty) before leaving my check.

No, this is not the place for a leisurely, romantic or gourmet meal. That's not why people come back. Shorty's Lunch is simply a well established hot dog joint with a limited menu that they've been executing the same way successfully for decades. It's easy for me to see why this is a neighborhood favorite.

Hot Diggity Dog! Here Are America's Craziest Wieners

Happy National Hot Dog Day! There's nothing more American than a hot dog-- except maybe seeing how many insane toppings you can pile on one. From mustard and ketchup to atomic relish and french fries, true 'mericans have dreamed up some wacky franks-- and we've got the map to prove it. Feeling hungry? In honor of the holiday, take a bite outta one of our country's craziest, most delicious dogs!

The Chicago Style: Legend has it that the Chicago dog became popular during the Great Depression because it had so many toppings-- more bang for your buck! This juicy wiener starts with a poppyseed bun and all-beef dog, and is topped with yellow mustard, chopped onions, atomic relish (made with sweet pickles), tomato wedges, pickle spears, and sport peppers, all sprinkled with celery salt. And don't even think about asking for ketchup-- if there's one thing Chicagoans hate, it's ketchup on hot dogs. Grab one at Gene & Jude's!

The Slaw Dog: Cole slaw and hot dogs-- an unlikely, but totally perfect pair. Around Macon, Georgia you can find BBQ slaw dogs, chili slaw dogs, and more, but if you want the classic, stop by Nu-Way Weiners for a red hot piled high with classic cole slaw. Mmmm!

The Sonoran: Arizona really knows how to make a hot dog! Next time you're in the Sonoran region, dig into one of these beauties the dog is wrapped in bacon and topped with beans, grilled and fresh onions, tomatoes, mayo, crema fresca, mustard, and jalapeno salsa. Did I mention that the hot dog is wrapped in bacon?? El Guero Canelo grills up one of the best Sonoran dogs in the country, so prepare your tastebuds accordingly if you plan to stop by!

The Danger Dog: Danger dogs are apparently a little too dangerous-- they've been declared illegal by the city of Los Angeles because street vendors aren't technically allowed to grill hot dogs. But, if you look really hard, you just might be able to find one of these bacon-wrapped tube steaks, with mountains of grilled onions and fresh tomatoes piled high, drizzled with ketchup and mustard, and garnished with a grilled poblano chile. Juuuust maybe.

The Coney: Don't let the name fool you-- these dogs aren't from Coney Island they're actually from Michigan. It's like a chili dog, but made with all-meat chili and pumped up with diced onions and a few stripes of yellow mustard. It gets even more specific-- Flint-style means a dry coney sauce, and so on. Sample an authentic Detroit version for yourself at American Coney Island!

The Polish Boy: Cleveland's favorite frank is basically a whole meal on a hot dog bun. You take a kielbasa sausage, load it up with French fries, then top it off with hot sauce and cole slaw. If you're a glutton for punishment, Seti's Polish Boys (which is a favorite of Cleveland celeb chef Michael Symon) will even let you add chili and cheese to this unholy hot dog union.

The New York System Wiener: Olneyville N.Y. System is a Rhode Island staple that serves up "R.I.'s best hot wieners". These franks are nestled in steamed buns and lovingly slathered with meat sauce, mustard, chopped onion and a dash of celery salt.They're open until 1a.m. so their wieners can satisfy your hunger all night long!

The New York Style: It's classic for a reason! The world-famous Katz's Deli makes a an outstanding New York style dog, grilled and topped with a smear of mustard, a heap of sauerkraut and a touch of sweet onion.

The Italian Style: If you can't decide whether you want pizza or a hot dog, then the Italian Style Dog (also known as a Newark Style Dog) is for you! It's a piece of plain pizza crust stuffed with peppers, onions and fried potatoes-- and there should be a hot dog or two in there somewhere as well. Dickie Dee's makes an exceptional one, if you're feeling really hungry.

The Kansas City Style: It's impossible to enjoy a baseball game without a good hot dog, and you can't visit the Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium without trying one of their famous K.C. style franks. They're almost like a Reuben sandwich-- hot dog, sauerkraut, carraway seeds, melted Swiss cheese and a hearty dose of Thousand Island dressing. Sounds like a home run to me!

The Scramble Dog: Next time you're in Columbus, Georgia, don't miss out on the local delicacy known as the "scramble dog". It's a bun, overflowing with chopped hot dog, chili, beans, onions, pickles and oyster crackers. The best place to get one is Dinglewood Pharmacy-- plus, since it's still a working soda fountain/pharmacy, you can pick up some heartburn medicine to go with your scramble dog.

The Seattle Style: This dog will keep you warm on a chilly Seattle night! It's a Polish sausage that's been split in half and covered in cream cheese, grilled onions, sauerkraut, jalapenos, and a squirt of mustard. Shorty's serves up the real deal in a great dive-bar atmosphere. Just don't let the creepy clown decor scare you away!

The United States of Hot Dogs: The Best Hot Dogs From Each of the 50 States

Bruce Kraig is a professor and author of Hot Dog: A Global History. Hawk Krall (@hawkkrall) is an illustrator and food writer from Philadelphia who spent three years as a hot-dog columnist for Serious Eats.

What is more American than hot dogs? Hamburgers, you say? Not if history is to be credited.

Before the cult of cheeseburgers took the nation by storm, h ot dogs were the first and greatest democratic food. Around 1850, Germans came in great numbers, introducing their expert sausage-making traditions. It was an easy sell—Americans were proud carnivores from the start, and who could resist the smell of wieners and franks cooking on open grills in public places? Served from portable carts or stands, the hot dog, as it came to be known, was the first meat-based street food. By the 1880s , what were once considered German sausages had become normalized—no longer called " Weisswursts, " but "red hots " or "hot dogs."

Originally served on buns with only mustard and onions, the hot dog's DNA developed thanks to the innovation of immigrant communities. Between 1890 and 1920, about a half million Greeks arrived in the United States. From Rhode Island to Oklahoma, Greek stand owners loaded up their hot dogs with sauces that they labeled chili, Laced with spices from their native cuisine such as cinnamon and nutmeg, sometimes with paprika and hot pepper.

By 1900, hot dogs were everywhere, on the streets and in American pop culture. But despite the popularity of Oscar Meyer jingles in the 1950s, hot-dog chains never experienced the same type of scale and success as burger franchises. Instead, frankfurter culture remained rooted in local companies and institutions.

Inspiring such intense local pride, we know that compiling a list of the best dogs in each state is bound to ruffle some feathers. In order to narrow our search, my colleague, Hawk Krall, and I had to set some parameters. Are we limiting the search to emulsified all-beef or beef and pork? Should we include other meats such as elk or reindeer, or sausages styles like the Polish or bratwurst? We concluded that some really great stands had varieties, so places like Biker Jim’s in Denver and Jim’s Original in Chicago must be on the list. Hot dogs are regional foods too, so we always had an eye towards those places that best represented local traditions.

But, even so, how to choose among the various styles in such diverse states as New Jersey, Connecticut, and California? With the help of some trusted sources, and hours spent on the road searching for holy-grail franks, we're ready to declare the best of the best.

San Francisco's bacon dog carts

The late-night bacon dog carts that cater to crowds of bar-hoppers of San Francisco's Mission District are legendary. And legendarily hard to find. Because they're not licensed as street vendors, they're constantly on the move to avoid police. But, as many have noted, "just follow the smell." A variation on the Sonoran dogs served in Tucson, these things are wrapped in bacon, topped with onions and jalapeños, and then squirted with ketchup, mustard, and mayonaise. The magnificent result is, well, something that is probably best eaten under the cover of darkness and drunkeness.

Bacon dog carts: Various locations throughout the Mission District

Hot Dogs Travel the U.S.A.

I got curious as to how hot dogs vary between the states. See originally I’m from New York City and I used to eat tons of hot dogs from the street vendors so I know it gets to be a habit. Anyway, I let my fingers do a little walking and here is a rundown on hot dogs per state.

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Arizona – Hot dogs there at known as Sonora-style or Estilo Sonora. There are hot dogs that have been wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon grilled or cooked on a griddle. They’re topped with beans, grilled and fresh onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, cream sauce, mustard and jalapeno salsa or sauce. This is all served on bread and a side of fresh-roasted chili.

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California – The word on the coast is hot dog restaurants and chains and a lot of fantasy. LA Pink’s Hot Dogs does a promotion for its celebrity customers and has a large variety of chili dogs. There’s Hot-Dog-On-A-Stick similar to corn dogs and if you’re really hungry there’s Wienerschnitzel which advertises that it’s “The World’s Largest Hot Dog Chain”. For a real taste treat street vendors offer “Downtown Dog” or “Danger Dog” which is a Mexican-style hot dog wrapped in bacon with grilled onions, jalapenos, bell peppers, mustard, ketchup, and salsa. You can get the Original Oki Dog this one’s two hot dogs wrapped up in a flour tortilla covered with chili and pastrami.

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Connecticut – You can find hot dogs on soft buns loaded with sauerkraut, onions, and pickled chili.

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Georgia – We’ve got the “scrambled dog”. It’s a chopped up hot dog covered with chili beans, onions, and pickles and oyster crackers as a side.

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Illinois – Here you come face to face with a real taste treat the Chicago-style hot dog which is a steamed all-beef hot dog in its natural casing and it comes topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sliced or wedged fresh tomatoes, dill pickle spear, sweet pickle relish, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt plopped on a steamed poppy seed bun.

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Kansas and Missouri – The Kansas-style hot dog is a pork sausage in a sesame seed bun which is then topped with brown mustard, sauerkraut, and melted Swiss cheese.

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Maine – offers a hot dog in its natural casing which is red in color and these dogs are referred to as red snappers.

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Massachusetts – In Boston most of the hot dogs are not grilled but come steamed. The most common toppings being ketchup, mustard, relish, piccalilli, and chopped onions.

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Michigan – serves up a chili dog known as a Coney dog which includes a beef and pork hot dog in a natural casing on a steamed bun and topped with beanless all-meat chili, diced yellow onion, and yellow mustard.

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New Jersey – They’ve got potato dog and it includes diced, stewed potatoes which are combined with brown mustard and served on a spicy hot dog. There is the traditional Newark Style Dog this one’s made by cutting a round “pizza bread” in half or quarters and cutting a pocket into it. The inside is spread with mustard and a deep-fried hot dog is added and topped with fried onions and peppers and topped off with crisp-fried potato chunks.

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New York – serves up all-beef hot dogs with mustard, sauerkraut and sweet onions in a tomato-based sauce. Upstate New York offers the white-hot or “porker” served with spicy brown mustard.

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North Carolina – hot dogs served up with chili, slaw, and onions and at times mustard can replace the slaw.

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Ohio – famous for its Cincinnati Chili serves hot dogs topped with chili and cheese.

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Rhode Island – has hot wieners on steamed buns topped with meat sauce which is seasoned with cumin, paprika, chili powder, and allspice and the sauce is then covered with finely chopped onions, celery salt, and yellow mustard.

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Washington – Believe it or not but Seattle serves their hot dogs with cream cheese and grilled onions on a toasted bun.

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West Virginia – serves up hot dogs with yellow mustard, chopped onions, chili, and coleslaw.

I don’t know about you but this trip through the states made me hungry and because I don’t get hot dogs regularly I’m going to try to make these state by state.

Watch the video: Team USA Answering if a hotdog is a sandwich (July 2022).


  1. Cris

    Alternatively, yes

  2. Peisistratus

    As well as possible!

  3. Penda

    well, nicho so ... well.

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