America’s Best Regional Hot Dogs, from Chicago to Hawaii


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Few foods are more American than the hot dog. Even though they trace their origins to German sausages (they’re also called frankfurters for a reason), the minute they were first tucked into a bun – reportedly in Coney Island, naturally – they became a distinctly American invention. 

Since then, they’ve not only become an indispensable summertime treat, they’ve also become regional icons based on the style of dog, the toppings, or both. Just like barbecue and pizza, hot dogs have taken on their very own unique regional identities.

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What Are The Different Styles of Hot Dogs?

Some hot dogs – like New York dogs or Chicago-style dogs – are up there with the most famous and easily identifiable hot dogs from a specific city or region. But there are lots of regional hot dog styles out there, and we bet that you’ve never even heard of some of them. These are America’s main regional hot dogs:

Image Credit: Luana Brescovitz/istockphoto.

New York City: As Classic As It Gets

Perhaps no city’s culinary culture is more associated with hot dogs than New York, where the quintessential version – served at Jewish delis and hot dog carts alike – are topped with tangy sauerkraut or sweet & tomatoes “onions in sauce” and a stripe of deli mustard. These can be found at iconic stands like Gray’s PapayaCrif Dogs, and the most famous hot dog stand of all, Nathan’s Famous – all shipping nationwide.

Image Credit: Gray’s Papaya.

Chicago: Dragged Through The Garden

The classic Chicago-style hot dog can be found at stands all throughout the city, and they all must have the exact same ingredients in order to be considered authentic: a frank from Vienna Beef, topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, spicy sport peppers, diced onions, a pickle spear, a tomato slice, and a sprinkle of celery salt before being tucked into a poppy seed bun. If you want to recreate this dog without traveling to the Windy City, Vienna Beef is shipping their hot dog kids nationwide.

Image Credit: Vienna Beef.

New Jersey: Italians & Texas Weiners

In North Jersey, you’ll find a unique style of hot dog called the Italian Hot Dog; it’s a fried frank that’s tucked into a thick roll made with pizza dough along with peppers, onions, and fried slices of potato. It was invented in 1932 at a restaurant called Jimmy Buff’s, which is shipping these creations nationwide. 

Elsewhere in New Jersey, you’ll find hot dogs called Texas wieners, which are deep-fried all-beef dogs topped with mustard, raw onions, and a beef sauce that’s seasoned with warm spices like cumin, cinnamon, and allspice. There’s no relation to Texas, interestingly enough.

Image Credit: Jimmy Buff’s.

Michigan: Famous For Coneys

Coney dogs (which like Texas wieners in New Jersey, have little to no relation to Coney Island) are the most famous hot dog in Michigan, especially around the Detroit area. Classic coneys are natural casing wieners topped with diced onion, mustard, and a sauce made from finely ground beef heart and spices called coney sauce. The most famous purveyors – located right next door to each other – are Detroit’s Lafayette and American Coney Island; if you want to try it for yourself, American is shipping to your door.

Image Credit: American Coney Island.

Cleveland: It’s Polish, Boy

Cleveland has a large Polish population, and the city’s signature hot dog is named after them. Called the Polish Boy, it’s a Polish sausage tucked into a roll, topped with barbecue sauce, sauerkraut, and – most importantly – a heaping pile of French fries. The city’s famed Edwin’s Restaurant is shipping a superlative version nationwide.

Image Credit: Edwin’s Restaurant.

Cincinnati: Don’t Forget The Cheddar

Cincinnati-style hot dogs, just like the city’s famous spaghetti, are topped with chili sauce (seasoned with Greek-inspired spices like cinnamon, clove, and allspice), onions, and a heaping pile of shredded cheddar. You can recreate this iconic hot dog by ordering from one of its most famous chili parlors, Skyline Chili.

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Arizona: Shake, Shake, Shake Sonora

Found primarily in Tucson, Phoenix, and the Mexican region of Sonora, Sonoran dogs are bacon-wrapped, griddled, tucked into a soft bun, and topped with beans, grilled and fresh onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeno salsa, and crema.

Image Credit: HABesen/istockphoto.

Washington, DC: The Home Of Half-Smokes

Usually called half-smokes, the most popular hot dogs in the nation’s capital are smoky, spicy sausages topped with spicy, beefy chili sauce, diced onions, and sometimes mustard.

Image Credit: Neal McNeil/istockphoto.

Rhode Island: New York System

Tiny Rhode Island has a hot dog style all to itself, called the New York System weiner (once again, a regional hot dog named after somewhere else). These are all-beef, natural-casing wieners, griddled, tucked into a side-cut steamed bun, and topped with meat sauce, diced raw onion, mustard, and celery salt.

Image Credit: Picturesque Japan/istockphoto.

Philadelphia: The Texas Tommy

Yet another dog named after somewhere else, Philadelphia’s signature hot dog, the Texas Tommy, is an all-beef dog that’s sliced down the middle and stuffed with bacon and Cheez Whiz before being grilled and served on a toasted bun.

Image Credit: Warren_Price/istockphoto.

Maine: Red Snappers

Maine hot dogs are easily identified based on their bright red color, achieved with the help of food coloring. The state’s signature red snappers are either beef or pork, served on a split-top bun and topped with yellow mustard.

Image Credit: Chris_Soucy/istockphoto.

Troy, New York: Mini Dogs

Upstate in Troy, New York, the city’s signature hot dogs are tiny, usually just measuring three or so inches. They’re topped with meat sauce, diced onions, and yellow mustard, and are usually eaten several to a sitting; consider them hot hot dog equivalent of sliders.

Image Credit: Wavebreakmedia/istockphoto.

Kansas City: Reuben-Inspired

In Kansas City, you’ll find hot dogs that are tucked into a sesame seed bun and topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and optional Thousand Island or spicy mustard.

Image Credit: bhofack2/istockphoto.

Hawaii: The Puka Dog

And finally, we head to Hawaii, where in Honolulu you’ll find the unique Puka Dog, a Polish sausage that’s been stuffed into a big, hollowed-out toasted bun and topped with your choice of a variety of sauces and relishes, including some tropical-inspired ones like passion fruit relish and pineapple relish.

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