Hot dogs are near and dear to many Americans' hearts – particularly this time of year, when warm nights beg for a couple of franks of the grill. But how you define a hot dog may differ vastly depending on whether you're in, say, New Jersey, West Virginia, or Chicago: The brand of dog, the type of bun, and everything that goes on top is likely to vary. Is the hot dog steamed or grilled? Are the buns toasted?
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We are all products of our hometowns, adopted and otherwise, and America happens to be home to an incredible range of hot dog varietals. These dogs are a far cry from the cheap boiled specimens some of us grew up with, incorporating everything from celery salt and secret sauces to tropical fruit relishes and cream cheese. Location matters, too: Boardwalk dogs and ballpark dogs are somehow elevated above the rest, in a class of their own. From Rhode Island to Arizona, Colorado to Hawaii, our list travels across the country to uncover our favorite styles of hot dog, and the best places to find them.
Char-Broiled Hot Dog (Williamsville, New York)
In Western New York, hot dogs are often grilled over charcoal for a slightly charred, deliciously crispy exterior. Traditionally it's a German-style natural-casing pork-beef tube from Sahlen's, based in Buffalo.
Where to Get It: Born in Buffalo in 1927, local chain Ted's Hot Dogs grills its dogs to order over hardwood charcoal and douses them in a house-made hot sauce, among other things (mustard, diced onion, sweet relish, ketchup, a pickle). The regional pairing to get is a sweet loganberry drink or, if you're feeling decadent, shake. 7018 Transit Rd., Williamsville, NY