There might not be a food as quintessentially American as the hot dog.
Sure, the frankfurter was actually created in Germany as a way to salvage leftover bits and pieces from the butcher’s block. But the first hot-dog stand was fashioned on Coney Island in 1871, and the wieners caught on as snacks at baseball games—and that’s an indisputably American invention.
And here’s another one: Every Fourth of July since 1916, Coney Island has hosted a ten-minute race for Mustard Belt glory—a hot-dog-eating contest that draws competitors from around the world. Last year, more than a million people tuned in to watch Joey Chestnut devour a world-record seventy-four dogs, more than eleven thousand calories. (Don’t try this at home, kids.)
From gourmet to gas station, beer-braised to dirty water, Kosher to pork to vegan, there are lots of ways to enjoy what’s become an American classic. New York and Chicago might be a top draw for hot dog enthusiasts, but the Triangle is no slouch, either.
To celebrate National Hot Dog Month—and America’s birthday (patriotism!)—we’ve compiled a list of our ten favorite franks, brats, and dogs in the Triangle. Tell us yours at email@example.com.
The Accordion Club: A Dive Bar Dog with Green Chile + Hot Cheese
316 West Geer Street, Durham, facebook.com/accordionclubdurham
After a few shots of whiskey, there’s nothing like a down-and-dirty dive bar dog topped with green chile and hot cheese with a side of Frito pie. No drunken munchies can resist these rotisserie-style, straight-from-the-vacuum-sealed-package wieners, which rotate in a warming oven for an indeterminable amount of time, invoking memories of gas station pit stops on a cross-country road trip.
Bull City Burger and Brewery: Pimento Dog
107 East Parish Street, Durham, bullcityburgerandbrewery.com
Like almost everything else, BCBB makes its dogs from scratch: The brewpub grinds the meat for its all-beef hot dogs every morning and butterflies them to provide more surface area for a big scoop of creamy house-made pimento cheese and a smattering of crisp, tangy pickles.
The Cardinal Bar: Beer-Braised All-Beef or Veggie Dog
713 North West Street, Raleigh, facebook.com/thecardinalbar
Co-owner Jason Howard boils hot dogs in beer and slathers the bun with Duke’s mayo in lieu of butter before grilling. With toppings like pickled okra, relish, beer onions, bacon, or sriracha, you can customize your 100-percent-N.C.-beef dogs any way you want. The veggie dogs are also local—from Loma Linda in Nashville, North Carolina, which has been making plant-based foods since the 1890s. “They come in a can soaking in a brine,” Howard says. “They are by far the tastiest.”
Cloos’ Coney Island: Chicago-Style Dog
2233 Avent Ferry Road, #102, Raleigh, facebook.com/cloosconeyisland
A retro-style diner with red vinyl swivel stools and black-and-white checkered floors, Cloos’ Chicago dog gets the real Windy City treatment: tomato slices, pickle spear, mustard, onions, “neon” relish, peppers, and celery salt on a poppy seed bun.
The Dog House: Ol’ Yallow Dog
Multiple locations, thedoghouseus.com
Each dog on the menu is inspired by an actual canine. The Ol’ Yallow comes with a golden schmear of mustard, melted cheese, and bacon bits; with the Tailwagger Combo, you can add a second—a German Shepherd or Collie, perhaps?
Durham Bulls Athletic Park: Ballpark Dog
409 Blackwell Street, Durham, milb.com/durham
In the old days, Wool E. Bull used his hot dog-shaped launcher to shoot actual franks into the crowd. Now he shoots t-shirts, which is less exciting, but it prevents the beloved dirty water wieners and soft potato rolls from getting bruised. Besides, when you buy one yourself, you can doctor it up with all the classic condiments. For whatever reason, hot dogs are just better at the ballpark. (DBAP sells veggie dogs, too.)
Jimmy’s Famous Hot Dogs: Yankee Dog
Multiple locations, jimmysfamoushotdogs.com
If the definitely-not-creepy life-size figurine of an anthropomorphic hot dog squirting ketchup on its head standing guard at the door doesn’t scare you away, get the Yankee dog, which features a salty, smoky, perfectly charred frank topped with a piquant sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard.
King’s Sandwich Shop: Corn Dog
701 Foster Street, Durham, kingssandwichshop.com
King’s corn dog may seem like a boring choice given its selection of deluxe sandwiches, but don’t underestimate the childlike delight brought on by biting into this battered and fried frank-on-a-stick, whose simple, nostalgic flavors may transport you back to the state fair—or, if you’re an old-timer, to King’s decades-long residency as the unofficial vendor for the old ballpark across the street.
The Roast Grill: Classic “Burnt” Dog, Naked
7 South West Street, Raleigh, roastgrill.com
A Raleigh institution since 1940, The Roast Grill is best-known for its “burnt” hot dog and strict ban on ketchup. Owner George Poniros’s late-grandmother was a hot dog purist; you won’t find relish, kraut, cheese, fries, or chips here either.
Sup Dogs: Hawaiian Dog
107 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, supdogs.com
Ranked the fifteenth best hot dog in America by Business Insider, Sup Dogs pleases just about any palate, from classic chili and slaw dogs to more inventive versions like the Hawaiian dog, served with pineapple, honey mustard, and special Sup Dog sauce.
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