Hear that sizzle? That’s the sweet sound of grills firing up around the world to pay tribute to the beloved hot dog. A long-time symbol of American food culture, the hot dog is actually thought to have first appeared in Germany (“Frankfurt-er,” anyone?). But now, deep fried or butterflied, this glorious piece of meat has taken on many-a-topping and found its way on to menus around the world. Here are our top 10 hot dog hot spots.
Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, United States
We have to kick this one off with the mother of all American hot dog locales: Coney Island. While some may pledge their allegiance to Walter’s, Crif Dogs, Gray’s Papaya or a favorite New York City street side stand, credit must be given to Nathan’s for taking the humble hot dog and transforming it into a competitive eating centerpiece. Each year, on the Fourth of July, Nathan’s hosts a hot dog-eating contest to see which brave soul can stomach the most dogs and buns in 10 minutes. (A record was set in 2013 year when seven-time winner Joey “Jaws” Chestnut consumed 69 franks and buns.) Competitions aside, this Coney Island standby started as a hot dog stand run by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker and has now been serving up good ol’ American-style beef dogs for 97 years. Rumor has it employees must keep mum about the joint’s secret spice recipe that reportedly gives Nathan’s hot dogs their taste. Don’t forget a side of crinkle-cut fries.
Myeong-dong food stalls, Seoul, South Korea
You haven’t quite seen a hot dog in all its glory until you’ve taken a look at the dogs dispensed at food stalls in Seoul. These franks aren’t for the faint of heart and should probably be reserved for moments of throwing caution to the wind. Here, hot dogs are placed on a stick (bun and all), coated in french fries (yes, you read that right), battered, then deep fried. Add a squiggle of ketchup and, voila, a greasy, crispy Korean hot dog is born. As one of Seoul’s busiest shopping areas, Myeong-dong offers plenty of food stalls that cater to the crowds. If you’re looking for something slightly less intimidating, street vendors are also known to dish out dogs wrapped in bacon, mashed potatoes or corn batter. But we say go big or go home.
Mobile vendors, Frankfurt, Germany
Often known as the town that coined the term “frankfurter,” Frankfurt, Germany, still plays host to plenty of places that serve up German-inspired versions of the hot dog. From sizzling bratwursts to the country’s infamous currywurst, Germany is the land of many sausage-like offerings. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council in the United States, there is a bit of a debate about the hot dog’s roots: Some say it all started in Frankfurt in 1487, while others believe a butcher in Coburg, Germany, first came up with the “dachshund” or “little-dog” sausage, then headed to Frankfurt to hock his meaty goods. Meanwhile, residents of Vienna, Austria, maintain their hometown (spelled Wien in Austrian) originated the term “wiener” for the hot dog. Hot dog disagreements aside, Frankfurt still features “grillwalkers” who dish out dogs on foot, as well as hot dog stands like Rock the Dog.
Japadog, Vancouver, Canada
After skyrocketing to foodie fame during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, hot dog franchise Japadog became an institution in this Canadian city. Now, with four stands and a store in Vancouver, as well as a store in New York City, Japadog has staked its claim on Vancouver’s hot dog market. But these aren’t your ordinary franks. In what may seem like an odd intersection of culinary culture, Vancouver’s famous hot dogs are topped with Japanese-inspired garnishes like seaweed, teriyaki sauce, plum sauce and soba noodles. The stands were started by a Japanese couple who pushed through language barriers and limited funding to become a household hot dog name.
Hot dog stand (near the Hotel Hellsten), Stockholm, Sweden
The Swedes certainly didn’t hold back when concocting their take on the hot dog. Instead of settling for standard squirts of ketchup and mustard, they embraced the true spirit of surf and turf. And so the ingredients in a Tunnbrödsrulle (the rightful name for this Swedish-style frank) may produce some raised eyebrows (and a hint of curiosity for those with adventurous palates): a flatbread, a grilled hot dog, lettuce, onions, spices, mashed potatoes, mustard, mayonnaise and, more often than not, shrimp salad. Plenty of locales will serve up this decked out Swedish wiener, but one of the go-to spots is the hot dog stand just around the corner from the Hotel Hellsten in Stockholm.
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, Reykjavik, Iceland
This food stand has been a popular spot in Reykjavik since it opened in the 1930s, but it was a visit by former U.S. president Bill Clinton that effectively put Baejarins Beztu on the global hot dog map. Four locations pepper the area, but the most well known is down near Reykjavik’s harbor. Baejarins Beztu dishes out cheap dogs (about two euros each) with toppings like ketchup, sweet, brown Icelandic mustard, fried onion, raw onion or a mayonnaise-based sauce mixed with sweet relish. If you’re feeling courageous, order your dog with “everything” to get all the toppings, but keep in mind that Iceland is famous for its mustard, so if you want an unobstructed taste of the stuff, a simple dog slathered with mustard might be a good pick.
Food stands and the Food Truck Garage, Auckland, New Zealand
In New Zealand, hot dog tends to mean corn dog. Here, the dogs typically come doused in a wheat-based batter, fried like a corn dog and served with ketchup or tomato sauce. But the Kiwis have launched their fair share of American-style hot dog vendors as well, including the Food Truck Garage, which aims to give hot dogs (and other fast food items) healthy makeovers. These dogs are made from free range pork and come in spelt flour rolls, featuring nutritious toppings like watercress, leeks, brussel slaw and avocado salsa. Hot dogs as a health food? We’ll take it.
Bubbledogs, London, England
This London hot spot keeps hot dog lovers classy by pairing inventive dogs with champagne. It may be an unexpected combination, but locals are flocking to this joint to sip bubbly while noshing on fancy franks. Bubbledogs’ menu features pork, beef or vegetarian dogs with cheeky names, topped with garnishes inspired by dishes from around the world. Some highlights include the “K-Dawg” (topped with kimchi, fermented red bean paste and lettuce), the “Date Dog” (garnished with roasted garlic, pickled onions and chive cream cheese) and the “Horny Dog” (a corn dog that comes with corny bits). We’ll raise a glass to those dogs.
Hot dog stands and Pink’s, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
L.A. loves its dogs. After all, there’s nothing quite like a greasy snack following a night on the town. In fact, Los Angeles residents consume more than 95 million hot dogs per year, more than any other U.S. city. Hot dog-loving partiers can pick from a slew of carts that set up shop outside the clubs and often wrap the standard hot dog in none other than (drum roll, please) bacon. Or, for something a little more mainstream, Pink’s on La Brea Avenue serves up classic dogs as well as an array of chili dogs (regular hot dogs topped with chili con carne and sometimes cheese, onions and mustard). Come hungry – Pink’s is known for its huge portions. A bonus? You may get to have your dog with a celebrity sighting on the side; Bill Cosby, Betty White and Steve Martin have all been Pink’s patrons.
Sporting venues and hot dog stands, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentinian-style hot dogs — also known as choripanes – are beef or pork sausages, butterflied and served with toppings like chimichurri slathered on the bread roll. Choripanes often show up as appetizers at barbecues (asados), snacks at sporting events or as street food in major cities like Buenos Aires, where they are a popular midday meal for cabbies. For a more traditional American-style dog (pancho), hot dog stands like Peter’s Hot Dogs in a Buenos Aires neighborhood called Palermo Soho should hit the spot.
(Main image: contributing2myinsanity)