With the start of baseball season on everyone’s radar this month, it’s the ideal time to spotlight the most all-American of ballpark foods, the humble, but delicious hot dog. Here are the hautest hot dogs around.
1 Top Dog’s Classic Frankfurter
If you’ve been to a UC Berkeley football game, chances are you’ve tried a Top Dog hot dog. This hole-in-wall hot dog spot has been serving Cal fans old-school hot dogs for 49 years. The space is literally not much more than a counter, grill, and one or two tough guys cooking up the hot dogs. Don’t enter Top Dog until you know your order and be prepared to yell it out when the dog master stares you down. The Top Dog, a no-nonsense all beef frankfurter with meaty flavor and delightful snap, is this writer’s all time favorite hot dog. It comes wrapped in white parchment paper and you get to choose from a handful of quintessential toppings: mustard (yellow or spicy brown), ketchup, relish, or onions. Grab a bag of potato chips and head up to Henry’s to enjoy your Top Dog with a pint of icy cold beer.
2534 Durant Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704
2 Prather Ranch’s Chuck Wagon Chili Dog
If you’re not familiar with Prather Ranch, one of the first local beef producers to make organic, certified humane raised and handled meats, you should be. Prather Ranch raw meats can be found at farmers markets across the bay and at their shop in SF’s ferry building. Their product is also showcased at American Eatery, a takeout stand at the ferry building where you can find the superb chuck wagon chili dog. Be prepared to get dirty when you eat this messy all-beef dog: it’s topped with Prather Ranch’s beef and pork chili, sour cream, green onions, and cheddar cheese — bacon is optional. We suggest you grab a fork and knife to really enjoy this meaty-cheesy explosion!
Ferry Building Marketplace San Francisco, CA 94111
3 Rye Project’s Chicago Dog
Cleverly termed a ‘Newish Delicatessen’ rather than a Jewish deli, Rye Project is a small unfussy eatery with brown walls, red and white checkered floors, giant photos of pickles, and David Bowie playing in the background. You’re not here for the atmosphere, you’re here to taste the most sublime Chicago-style hot dog around. The all-beef dog is steamed and served on a soft, just perfectly squishy poppy seed bun. The fixings are classic: sport peppers that burst when you bite into them, crunchy pickles, neon green relish, chopped onion, a sprinkling of celery salt, and spicy brown mustard. Tomatoes are a traditional topping for a Chicago dog, but being as this is San Francisco, where locals prize all things seasonal, Rye Project’s dog only has tomatoes when they are in season during the summer and fall.
180 7th Street San Francisco, CA 94103
4 Rosamunde’s Mission Dog
Rosamunde is one of San Francisco’s most well known sausage shops with a compact original outpost on lower Haight Street. It also has a larger restaurant and grill in the Mission with a patio and plenty of beer options on tap. The dog to order is their Mission Street dog — a somewhat upscale version of the Mexican hot dogs that are wrapped in bacon and sold late night on the streets of the Mission district. For a truly memorable experience, top the all-beef knockwurst with garlic pepper mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sweet peppers, and grilled onions.
2832 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94110
5 Press’s Carrot Dog
Although it may seem like an oxymoron, we can’t have a hot dog list without highlighting at least one of the innovative vegetarian dogs that are out there. Our favorite? Press in St. Helena’s carrot hot dog. Chef Trevor Kunk has created the ultimate savory “hot dog” that’s actually a roasted carrot served on a toasted Model Bakery bun. For a super meaty flavor punch of umami, the dog is topped with a wild mushroom marmalade; crispy shallots provide a necessary and delectable light crunch. When asked why he decided to make a carrot hot dog, Kunk said, "We wanted to serve something tasty and unique to go with the one of a kind wine list and phenomenal cocktail menu we have here at Press. Earthy, meaty, a little sweet and spicy, the carrot hot dog was the perfect fit." We couldn’t agree more!
587 St Helena Highway St Helena, CA 94574