As we prepare to celebrate all things America, let us turn our attention to that most patriotic of foods, the hot dog. Sure, they may have originated in Germany, but we've adopted tube steaks as our own, with delicious results. In true democratic fashion, different states boast different styles, from the relatively austere New York dog to the dragged-through-the-garden Chicago version. Though there are more regional styles than we can shake a frankfurter at, here's a quick rundown of some major players in the hot dog pantheon:
Sonoran Dog, Arizona: A true gut-buster, this all-beef dog is wrapped in bacon, stuffed into a steamed bolillo roll, and topped with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayo, jalapenos and, occasionally, salsa and/or guacamole. Where to try it: Nogales Hot Dogs in Phoenix.
Coney Dog, Michigan: A cousin to the more widely known chili dog, Coney Dogs are petite all-beef natural casing hot dogs in steamed buns coated with a generous scoop of meat chili, mustard and chopped onions. Where to try it: American Coney Island in Detroit.
New York Dog, NYC: The classic dog available from street-corner stands all over the city is a study in simplicity: the snappy all-beef natural casing hot dog is given a quick sear on the griddle, and dressed with mustard and sauerkraut. Where to try it: Gray's Papaya in New York City.
New York System Weiner, Rhode Island: Not to be confused with New York dogs, this Rhode Island specialty involves small-ish beef, pork and veal links cut from a jumbo-sized rope, griddled, then piled high with meat sauce, mustard, chopped onion and celery salt. Where to try it: Olneyville New York System in Providence, RI.
Chicago Dog, Chicago: Vienna beef is the dog of choice in the Windy City, steamed and "dragged through the garden," meaning topped with tomatoes, dill pickles, onions, green relish, sport peppers, yellow mustard (never ketchup!) and celery salt, then nestled in a soft poppy seed bun. Where to try it: Gene & Jude's in Chicago.
Half-Smoke, Washington, D.C.: More sausage than dog, griddled half-smokes (so named for their 50-50 mix of beef and pork) are, as their name implies, smoky, spicy, and served beneath meaty chili, onions and mustard on a steamed bun. Where to try it: Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C.
Italian Dog, New Jersey: Most prevalent around the Newark area, these slender all-beef hot dogs are deep-fried, then stuffed into mustard-slathered Italian "pizza" bread, and covered in fried onions, peppers and potato chunks. Where to try it: Dickie Dee's in Newark, NJ.
Southern Slaw Dog: Popular all across the American South, the messy slaw dog has many variations, but most involve some form of creamy coleslaw and spicy chili, along with mustard, mayo and/or onions on a steamed bun. Where to try it: Hillybilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, West Virginia.