There are plenty of good reasons why hot dogs are such a popular treat: They’re tasty, they’re cheap, and they’re incredibly easy to prepare. But there’s a big difference between a boiled hot dog on a nondescript bun and the ones that we annually round up for our ranking of the 75 best hot dogs in America.
On our quest to round up America’s best hot dogs, we take into account local and national renown, the quality of the ingredients, the care taken to ensure that each dog is a work of culinary art (and a great hot dog certainly can be considered a work of art), and the overall hot dog eating experience. And no hot dog rose to quite the level of glory attained by our winner: the Ripper from Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, New Jersey, which has been going strong since 1928 and is one of America’s best old-school restaurants.
The Ripper, a pork-and-beef Thumann’s link that earns its name by being deep-fried in beef fat until it rips apart, attains a crispy skin during its time in the fryer, making us wonder why more hot dog stands don’t emulate it. It’s easily one of the most iconic dishes in America.
This roadside shack is also a pitch-perfect place to down a hot dog or three: There’s a long counter in its chairless dining room as well as an adjoining wood-paneled tap room where you can drink cheap beer and chat with old-timers and fellow pilgrims, propelling Rutt’s Hut to legendary status. Whether you order an In-And-Outer (just a quick dunk in the oil), a Ripper, a well-done Weller, or the crunchy, porky, almost-overcooked Cremator, make sure you get it “all the way”: topped with mustard and a spicy, sweet, onion-and-cabbage-based relish. If you can't make it all the way to New Jersey, don't worry, you can easily seek out the best hot dog in your state.