The hot dog is one of those foods that’s nearly impossible to mess up. You heat it through, plop it on a bun, squirt on some mustard, and call it lunch. But there’s a big difference between not screwing something up and turning it into a paradigm-shifting, transcendental dining experience. There are lots of hot dog stands and restaurants out there that are turning the humble hot dog into a work of art, and we’re honoring the very best hot dog joint in each of the 50 states as well as Washington, D.C.
Hot dogs, along with burgers, are one of the most democratic, most All-American foods (even though they can trace their origins to Europe). The fact that they’re so easy to buy, cook, and serve means that you’ll find them on menus at restaurants of every stripe. They’re also especially easy to sell from standalone carts and trucks, where they’ll most likely taste just like every other hot dog you’ve ever had. But truly spectacular hot dogs do exist, and there are great hot dogs to be found from coast to coast.
On our quest to find the best hot dog in every state, we made sure to take into account online reviews from locals as well as the restaurant’s overall reputation among those in the know, and the quality of the ingredients — namely, sourcing the franks from well-respected local producers — was also important. Hot dogs aren’t eaten in a void, so we took into account the entire experience, from driving up to the restaurant, truck, or stand to placing your order to taking that first bite.
Our list runs the gamut from ancient stands that have been serving the same timeless classic for decades to gastropubs dedicated to putting their unique stamp on the hot dog. There’s one constant thread between them, though: They’re the very best in every state.