The American Hot Dog Debate: What’s Your Favorite?

The (hot) dog days of summer are here. As we get ready for Memorial Day weekend (basically the kickoff of the summer season), grilling probably isn’t far from your mind. This year, we’ve officially gone to the dogs. And no, we’re not talking about cute puppies. We’ll give you a hint: there are lots of tasty ways to mix up your grill, and one of them is the hot dog.

Make mine a real New Yorker

We might be a little biased given that Plated HQ is in New York, but we tend to think that most people’s idea of the perfect hot dog is derived from a New York-style frank. The Gotham dog is a pork frank topped with brown mustard, sauerkraut, and some onions tossed in tomato paste. Okay, not everyone’s idea of traditional, but the pork, mustard, kraut, and ketchup mix are pretty iconic toppings for a reason—the reason being that they’re very tasty.

Red hot Chicago dogs

Our adoration for the New York dog, we imagine, invoked some agita from the Third Coast, so let us be clear: despite the hot dog being a timeless city street snack, we know there’s a lot of love to be had for other hot dogs across the US. In fact, big fans of dogs “dragged through the garden,” as it’s done in the Windy City. Chicago dogs, first and foremost, are all-beef franks. Second, forget mustard. Think veggies, instead: sweet-tart relish, big spears of pickle, raw onion, and freshly chopped tomato. It’s practically a salad! At least, that’s what we’re going with.

Pink’s Friday: finding the L.A. dog

There may not be just one kind of Los Angeles hot dog. But they’re all really good, and they’re all on the menu at Pink’s, a classic mid-century drive-in on the corner of La Brea and Melrose. The showpiece Pink’s dog is a chili-cheese dog, so we’ll take the opportunity to suggest making a pot of chili and shredding some cheese to go alongside your preferred franks. L.A. may not have any monopoly on the chili dog, but it’s absolutely worth putting on your personal summer cookout menu.

Great Danes (Danish hot dogs, that is)

We know, this is a long jump across the pond, but you’re going to like the meal at the end of the voyage. Hot dogs seem like such an American food, but the Danish hot dog is truly special. Denmark is known as a design capital, so it won’t surprise you that the Danish dog is a beaut—an almost cartoonish long and red frank with a crisp skin and a big snap of flavor. Some toppings seem familiar—pickles and fresh veggies—while some are delightfully new: a mountain of canned fried onions, for example. If you want to try these at home, look for polser sausages at a gourmet store, and then stop by the canned goods section. Try it, you won’t be upset about the results.

Very nice Icelandic dogs

What is it that makes the Scandis such masters of the hot dog? We don’t know, and we’re not complaining. The Icelandic dog has a lot of similarities with its Danish cousin: similar toppings, similar name (pylsa instead of polser), similar deliciousness. One key difference is that Icelandic dogs, owing to the country’s agriculture, are usually made from lamb or beef, rather than pork. Another northern twist is the trademark remoulade topping, made with mayo, capers, and mustard. Make sure to order it ein með öllu—aka, with everything.

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