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.
Chicago-Style Hot Dog (River Grove, Illinois)
When fully loaded, this is an iconic combination of chopped white onions, hot pickled sport peppers, tomato, mustard, relish, pickle, and celery salt atop a snappy natural-casing all-beef dog, traditionally from Vienna Beef, nestled into a poppy-seed bun. Ketchup need not apply.
Where to Get It: Appropriately old-school and no-frills, Gene's & Jude's is a local favorite for the stripped-down Chicago dog, a.k.a. the Depression dog, featuring just mustard, onions, relish, and peppers atop a Vienna Beef frank – with a pile of French fries. 2720 River Rd., River Grove, IL