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When you’re in a new city and hungry for a way to explore and snack on a budget, there’s no beating the humble (or not-so-humble!) American hot dog. Grab one of these tasty sausage sandwiches, which are undoubtedly among the best hot dogs in the country, and fill yourself up without breaking the bank.


Portillo’s | Flickr CC: star5112

Portillo’sChicago, IL

No questions about it—Chicago is America’s hotdog headquarters. You’ll be spoiled for choice in the Windy City, where it seems like there’s a hot dog shop on every block. But while there are plenty of specialty options, there’s a right and a wrong way to eat a Chicago hot dog. Portillo’s simple Hot Dog ($3) gets the recipe exactly right: a steamed poppy seed bun holds a dog dressed in mustard, neon green relish, celery salt, and raw onions with a garnish of fresh tomato, a kosher pickle and a pepper. Want ketchup? You’ll get laughed out of the building.

Happy Fatz – Houston, TX

Not only is this specialty hot dog restaurant also a bakery, but it’s housed in a quaint cottage with a distinctly neighborhoody feel. Walk in and order The Clucker ($8), a dog with hash browns, bacon, grilled onions, and a fried egg topped with secret Clucker sauce. Or gnaw on a Texas Chili ($8), a frank garnished with homemade chili, melted cheddar, and Fritos. Bonus: there are giant cake slices for dessert.

Nathan's Famous, which makes some of the best hot dogs in the country

Nathan’s Famous | Flickr CC: owlpacino

Nathan’s FamousBrooklyn, New York

Look, you can eat a hot dog or you can eat The Hot Dog. Chomp into one of Nathan’s Famous World Famous Beef Hot Dogs, thatched with sauerkraut and drizzled with mustard, and you’ll be chewing on a piece of American history. That’s right—Nathan’s is 100 years old, and it’s home to the world-renowned Hot Dog Eating Contest, where contestants from around the world gather to cram these franks down their throats next to Brighton Beach.

I Dream of Weenie – Nashville, TN

Most people don’t think of Nashville as a major hot dog capital, but that’s fine with us—we want to keep I Dream of Weenie all for ourselves. This adorable vintage VW van/sausage shop is parked at Five Points and has its own tiny patio, where you can chow down on the Flamin’ Frank, an ultra-hot dog with spicy chili, cheese, jalapenos and hot salsa, or order one of their tasty daily specials (jumbo smoked sausage with BBQ-marinated onions, anyone?)

Lafayette Coney Island-detroit

Lafayette Coney Island | Flickr CC: Rex Roof

Lafayette Coney IslandDetroit, MI

You cannot have a hot dog when you’re in Detroit—you must have a coney dog (if you have any respect for yourself at all.) And if you’re looking for the best coney dogthere is, march yourself over to Lafayette Coney Island, where a Coney Island dog ($2.60) will rock your world with its meaty, chili-covered frank, chopped onions, and mustard-slathered recipe. The no-nonsense, classic diner vibes are worth a visit alone.

franktuary-bogota and bangkok hotdogs

The Bangkok (front) and Bogota hot dogs from Franktuary | Photo courtesy of Molly Lindsey

FranktuaryPittsburgh, PA

This award-winning eatery with two locations and two food trucks uses locally-sourced and ethnic condiments to create lavish, memorable hot dog experiences. Try a Bangkok Frank ($4.25), with Thai peanut sauce, carrots, red cabbage and cilantro. Or nab a Bogota Frank ($4.25), a hot dog creatively covered in pineapple sauce, slaw, potato chips, and “pink sauce.” Oh, and don’t forget to get an order of poutine while you’re there!

Dapper Dog – San Francisco, CA

Picture it: you’re in the Castro, a neighborhood in one of the most expensive cities in America, and you’re hungry. The only sensible thing to do is to head to locally beloved Dapper Dog, where you can eat a specialty frank for less money than you’ll pay for…almost anything else in San Francisco. Try a Napa Dog ($6), dressed with arugula, blue cheese, diced dried apricots and apricot sauce, or go for the Banh Mi Dog ($6), which boasts sliced cucumbers, pickled carrots, chopped peanuts and sriracha mayo. On second thought, better get more than one, in case you’re hungry later! 

Pink's Hot Dogs

Pink’s Hot Dogs | Flickr CC: Ken Lund

Pink’sLos Angeles, CA

Dolly Parton, Tyra Banks, Kim Kardashian—these celebrities (and dozens more) have eaten hot dogs at Pink’s in Hollywood, an iconic stand that’s been around since 1939. Soon, you’ll join the ranks of the rich and famous, when you order a Lord of the Rings Dog ($5.75), a BBQ sauce and onion-ring-topped 9” frankfurter. Also noteworthy is the Martha Stewart Dog ($7.25), a relish, onions, bacon, sour cream and sauerkraut-covered work of art. It’s a good thing!

DanDan Dog

DanDan Dog | Photo courtesy of EatsPlace

Haiyo DogWashington, D.C.

Drop what you’re doing and book a plane ticket to Washington, D.C. this instant. These hot dogs are that important. You’re about to sink your teeth into an Asian/American fusion sensation: House-baked Asian milk bread cuddles local Amish beef, chicken, or organic tofu dogs crowned with condiments such as avocado and spicy mayo or kimchi and edamame. Get the Dan Dan Noodle Dog ($6), which features knife-cut noodles and Sichuan peppercorns, or upgrade to the Shot-Dog ($12), your choice of any dog on the menu with a daily liquor shot special.

Chili Cheese Mad Dog, one of the best hot dogs in America

Chili Cheese Mad Dog | Photo courtesy of Bukowski Tavern

Bukowski TavernBoston, MA

Not only does this iconic, red-painted tavern have an enormous selection of craft beers and a Boston-y surly attitude, it also has a (bargain alert!) $1 hot dog or burger special, Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m to 8 (!!) p.m. That is ONE DOLLAR, folks. One dollar to be surrounded by Boston’s finest (and we mean the best hot dogs). In addition, Bukowski’s offers a chili cheese edition and sweet potato tots! What are you waiting for?

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Family, Food & drink, L.A., New York City, Tips & advice

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