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?
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 hot dogs, including the best styles and where to find them.