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America’s 75 Best Hot Dogs for 2016


This ranking is from 2016. For the most recent ranking, please click here.

The hot dog is one of those foods that’s nearly impossible to mess up. But there’s a big difference between not screwing something up and turning it into a paradigm-shifting, transcendental dining experience. And there are lots of hot dog stands and restaurants out there that are turning the humble hot dog into a work of art.

America’s 75 Best Hot Dogs (Slideshow)

The perennial grill mate to hamburgers, the hot dog sometimes gets the short end of the stick, charring at the back of the grill while juicy burgers are snatched up as soon as they hit the right temperature. But there’s a science, if not an art form, behind constructing the perfect hot-dog-eating experience.

That experience was introduced more than 100 years ago, when German immigrants first brought over their frankfurters and started selling them on the cheap at places like Nathan's on Coney Island, arguably ground zero for American hot dog consumption. But then something interesting happened: 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 — which has nothing to do with Coney Island. The uncured, unsmoked White Hot is popular in upstate New York. Confused yet? The regional variations go on and on.

On our quest to find America’s best hot dogs, we started by putting a list together of hot dog places with a definitive style of hot dog, one which embodies not only the region’s quirks but also the particular tastes and culinary traditions of its people. We 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. These hot dogs aren’t being eaten in a void, either, so we took into account the entire experience, from driving up to the restaurant or stand to placing your order to taking that first bite.

Once we had our list of more than 200 hot dog places from across the country finalized (building on surveys from previous years’ rankings), we built them into a survey divided by region. We called on chefs, food writers, bloggers, and journalists from around the country to take the survey, and we also asked our social media followers to take the survey as well, and more than 150 respondents weighed in.

The final tally includes hot dog stands as far north as Seattle and as far south as New Orleans. You never know where a great hot dog stand will pop up; we’ve included ones as far afield as Keyser, West Virginia; Le Mars, Iowa; and Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio. While Chicago (arguably the best hot dog down in the country) is well-represented with 10 entrants, the sheer geographic diversity here makes it clear that there are few American foods more universally beloved than the hot dog.

Our list runs the gamut from ancient stands that have been serving the same exact product for decades to gastropubs dedicated to putting their unique stamp on the hot dog. There’s one constant thread between them, though: they’re the country’s best.

Additional reporting by Arthur Bovino.


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


In search of America's best hot dog: 14 supermarket varieties, taste-tested

L ife is full of tough choices. For instance: are you a burger person, or a hot dog person? While I tend to lean burger, there are times when only a hot dog will do: at the baseball game on a New York City street corner walking home tipsy as bacon-wrapped sausages perfume the night.

But no occasion is more perfect than the Fourth of July. It’s estimated Americans will eat 150m hot dogs on Independence Day alone, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Boiled or grilled, with mustard or ketchup, sauerkraut or relish – a frank in a bun is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

As with many American traditions, the hot dog’s origins lie in the immigrant story. Most agree it began with the frankfurter, brought by 19th-century Germans along with their love of all things sausage. Today’s supermarket aisles are stuffed with choices, making grocery shopping a daunting task. As a fellow shopper lamented just days ago, while I loaded my arms with cold meat for this contest: “Which damn hot dog do I buy? Nothing’s worse than biting into a bad hot dog.”

Which is why we decided to face down the ultimate challenge: 14 American supermarket varieties pitted side by side, so you can shop with confidence.

Judges gather in Charlotte Simmonds’s backyard during the taste test. Photograph: Talia Herman/The Guardian


Watch the video: The Hot Dog. National Geographic (January 2022).