11 Crazy Hot Dogs to Try in the United States

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11 Crazy Hot Dogs to Try in the United States
In the past decade, old-school wieners have gotten a millennial makeover. Creative cooks around the country are vying to outdo one another when it comes to internationally influenced toppings, unique meat makeup, and the freshest bun selection. There’s nothing wrong with a well-made traditional dog, of course (we’re lookin’ at you, Pink’s and Wiener’s Circle), but sometimes turning something old into something fabulous can start a new tradition. Hot dogs are historically made out of unwanted meat scraps, after all. And just look at them now: These modern dogs aren’t for the traditional or faint of heart. Because who needs ketchup and mustard when you can get one of these?
By Alina Polishuk, AFAR Contributor
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    Alameda, CA: Doggy-Style Hot Dogs, Umai
    Though the not-so-subtle name might make you want to drive right by this Alameda hot spot, don’t. Nearly all of the hot dogs here are dressed with Asian influence, but a standout is the Umai. Topped with Japanese mayo, pickled radishes, teriyaki sauce, and seaweed, this flavorful hot dog is highly craveable and worth the trip inside.
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    San Francisco, CA: Los Shucos, Tía Juana
    There are countless corners that serve bacon-wrapped dogs to bar-hoppers in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood, but no one does it quite like Los Shucos. Chef and owner Sofia Keck’s Guatemalan-style street dogs go way beyond drunchies; the ingredients are fresh, the bread is made locally, and the toppings are way, way better. The Tía Juana features a bacon-wrapped all-beef frank with grilled pineapple, avocado, jalapeño pico, and mayo, all stacked into a grilled shuco-style bun.
    Courtesy of Los Shucos
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    Los Angeles, CA: Vicious Dogs, Hot Chick
    Although the menu does include a few simple classics, the offerings at Vicious Dogs in North Hollywood are not for those with delicate appetites. Most dogs come topped with bubbling cheese, more meat, and flavor-packed sauces. A favored example is the Hot Chick, which features a bacon-wrapped frank covered in melted mozzarella, hot sauce, ranch dressing, and a chopped chicken tender.
    Photo by Doran/Flickr
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    Portland, OR: Next Level Burger, any hot dog
    For vegetarians and vegans sick of mushy tofu dogs and prepackaged bean burgers, Next Level Burger is a godsend. Everything in this Oregon restaurant is completely animal product–free, from its “beef” patties, to the mayo and the milk shakes. Herbivores (and even omnivores!) can customize their wheat barley–based dogs with a slew of plant-based toppings, like tempeh bacon, vegan cheese, and a house-made garlic-ranch sauce.
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    New Orleans, LA: Dat Dog, Crawfish Etouffee Dog
    It might not be akin to Commander’s Palace or Antoine’s, but Dat Dog is becoming a NOLA institution in its own right. This funky eatery has served up decadent dogs since 2011, and with four locations around town, its popularity shows no signs of waning. Chefs pay homage to the restaurant’s geographical roots with the Crawfish Etouffee Dog: a crawfish dog smothered in homemade etouffee (a spicy seafood stew popular in Cajun and Creole cuisine), topped with sour cream and creole mustard.
    Courtesy of Dat Dog
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    Las Vegas, NV: Cheffinis, Grandfather
    Located in downtown Las Vegas’s Container Park, Cheffinis has been a crowd-gathering favorite since it first opened as a cart in 2010. The chef-owners sling out a full menu of border-blurring dogs, but their most popular item is the Grandfather. This gourmet wiener has it all: a grilled frank, pork belly, caramelized onions, red bell pepper, crushed potato chips, pickled mango, basil aioli, and the pièce de résistance, a fried quail egg.
    Courtesy of Cheffinis/Facebook
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    Phoenix, AZ: Short Leash Hot Dogs, Bear
    No matter the toppings, all of the hot dogs at Short Leash are served wrapped in toasted naan bread. Carb creativity aside, the menu features a range of inspired toppings (from mango chutney and mayo to grilled fruit and goat cheese), but the unusual standout at Short Leash is laden with peanut butter. Called the Bear, this wiener is topped with the classic nutty spread, smoked gouda, bacon, barbecue sauce, and Cracker Jacks.
    Courtesy of Short Leash Hot Dogs
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    Chicago, IL: Chicago’s Dog House, Rattlesnake and Rabbit
    With a culinary history steeped in sausages, frankfurters, and food industrialization, Chicagoans have more than earned the right to take hot dogs seriously. However, the city has come a long way since European immigrants discovered they could turn undesirable trimmings into delicious meat tubes. Case in point: Chicago’s Dog House. Since it opened in 2009, it has consistently churned out delicious classics for the traditionalists and exotic offerings for the adventurous. The Rattlesnake and Rabbit, for example, is an unironically named rabbit and snake sausage, covered with fried Brussels sprouts, house-made ranch dressing, and peppers. You can typically catch this specialty dog in the summer.
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    Washington, D.C.: Swizzler Gourmet Hot Dogs, Leonardo Dog Vinci
    While reinventing the American hot dog might seem like a tall order for some, the three Washington, D.C-based college buddies behind Swizzler took on the challenge with gusto. Some might even say they succeeded. So named after its dogs’ signature corkscrew shape, the fare at this DMV-based food truck is fresh, innovative, and wildly popular. Besides the super affordable truffle fries (a steal at $5), one of its signature staples is the Leonardo Dog Vinci, a beef dog accompanied by fresh mozzarella, balsamic glaze, chopped grape tomatoes, and house-made basil pesto.
    Courtesy of Swizzler Gourmet Hot Dogs
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    New York City, NY: Crif Dog, John John Deragon
    Crif Dog has long been an NYC staple for its deep-fried dogs and decadent offering of toppings. For those who can’t decide, the John John Deragon, smeared with cream cheese and topped with scallions and everything bagel seasoning, is a salty, satisfying way to absorb the night’s imbibing. Crif Dog is open until 4 a.m. on the weekends and has locations in both Williamsburg and on St. Mark’s Place. Plan bar hopping strategy accordingly.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/lricharz/8129317972/in/photolist-domT1G-bVpgfa-ce5PWU-34cku-7Zefu9-cmt8Pu-2JVMVn-cHfqmu-5JcouA-kbYLf-zJ985w-eR3Muc-7FqxLj-ew1XN9-aVXHqB-aZeRWe-zsJNwT-875tVs-a1Z6WS-cYBj6u-fuC9WQhttp://bit.ly/2naRSO3">Lucas Richardz/Flickr
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    Portland, ME: Blue Rooster Food Co., Slawsky and Hutch
    The Blue Rooster in Portland sources most ingredients (hot dogs included) from nearby purveyors and puts an artisanal twist on even the most traditional foods. While the entire menu is tempting, the Slawsky and Hutch is a decadent must-try. It comes topped with house-made beef chili, Brussels sprout coleslaw, and a pile of the restaurant’s famous tater tots.
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