Duck hot dogs? No thanks. Franks topped with brie and quaileggs? We’ll pass on the latest gourmet makeover craze and stickwith the classic American icon. According to the National Hot Dogand Sausage Council, hot dogs first appeared in the U.S. in the19th century, by way of German and Polish immigrants, and werealready common at ballparks by the 1890s. Happily, there are stillhot dog stands and drive-ins around the U.S that date back almostthat long—and others that nicely reflect regional differences. Hereare six historic hot dog joints worth going out of your wayfor:
Chicago: Superdawg Drive-in
While the Windy City’s take on the hot dog—typically featuring apoppy-seed bun, mustard, chopped onions and bright-green relish—dates back to the Great Depression, the fabulously kitschy SuperdawgDrive-in (6363 Milwaukee Ave.) didn’t open until 1948. You canstill order outside from retro speakers, have your tray attached tothe side of your car by a carhop waitress, and revel in theknowledge that these dogs contain no pork, veal, cereal, orfillers. Note: Chicagopurists consider it sacrilege to ask for ketchup on your dog.
Detroit: American Coney Island
What’s in a name? For a classic example of the hot dog world’sconfusing lexicon, head to downtown Detroit,where American Coney Island (114 W. Lafayette Blvd.) has nothing todo with Coney Island in Brooklyn. Open since 1917, this family-runinstitution has earned accolades for its “Coney dogs” topped withfreshly chopped onions, chili, and mustard.
Tucson: El Guero Canelo
Reportedly dating back to the 1960s, “Sonoran” hot dogs reflecta Mexican-inspired, Southwestern style: the frank is wrapped inbacon before being grilled, set in a fluffy bolillo bun,and then topped with beans, grilled onions, tomatoes, mayo andjalapeño salsa. A favorite is Tucson’-s El Guero Canelo (including 2480 N. Oracle Rd. in North Tucscon),which has been around since the 1990s.
New York City: Nathan’s
There is, of course, no shortage of hot dog carts (lovinglycalled dirty-water dogs) in New York City, but the mother ship isstill in ConeyIsland. Nathan’s was launched by a Polish immigrant in 1916 andis today the host of the famed July 4th hot-dog-eating contest.
Los Angeles: Pink’s
Looking for a classic dog in La-LaLand? Pink’s opened near the corner of Melrose and La Brea in1939 and, as a nod to its star-studded Hollywood neighborhood, themenu features pop-culture-inspired dogs such as the Brando (a9-inch “stretch” dog), the Martha Stewart (with sauerkraut) and aLord of the Rings (with BBQ sauce and onion rings).
Providence: Olneyville N.Y. System
Don’t let their diminutive size fool you. The hot dog slidersserved at Olneyville N.Y. System since 1946 are addictive to thepoint of local obsession in Providence.Billed as “Rhode Island’s best hot wiener,” the New York System dogis a regional specialty, made with a small steamed frank and toppedhere with onions, celery salt, mustard, and a meat sauce whoserecipe is a closely guarded secret.
KatrinaBrown Hunt contributed this to MiniTime.com.
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