Nine Over-the-Top Hot Dogs That Put Fenway Franks to Shame
From the gourmet to the gluttonous, the classic frankfurter is becoming a chef’s favorite blank canvas.
After the slog of an implacable winter, nothing buoys the spirit more than the crack of a bat, the season’s first sunburn, and, of course, the smell of grilled meat in the air. Baseball is back, and that means its perennial partner, the hot dog, is popping up on menus all around town. Once a smorgarsbord of cast-off cuts adorned with little more than a squirt of mustard, the humble hot dog is undergoing a paradigm-shift where nothing is off-limits. Duck? Kimchi? German sauerbraten? Bring it on!
It’s hard to top the simple pleasures of a Fenway Frank topped with sweet relish or a Sullivan’s dog packed into a hot buttered bun, but there’s a new breed of dog that’s receiving the star treatment at both casual and trendy haute spots. Here are nine of the tastiest creations that’ll have you rethinking this conventional ballpark standard.
1. The Butcher Shop: Hot Dog à la Maison
Barbara Lynch’s homage to traditional French boucheries, this neighborhood wine bar and full-service butcher shop specializes in all manners of house-cured meats, pâtés, and sausages. The signature Hot Dog à la Maison is made from ground bacon and pork, as well as coriander, white pepper, and various warming spices. “It’s more similar to a bratwurst,” says chef de cuisine Michele Carter. “Unlike most hot dogs which use synthetic casings, ours is in a hog casing, which makes it much larger.” Each dog is poached, oven roasted, and then served on a house-baked Parker House roll with bread-and-butter pickled fennel.
552 Tremont St., Boston; 617-423-4800 or thebutchershopboston.com.
2. Michael’s Deli: Pearl Frank Wrapped in Pastrami
Since taking over this Brookline institution in 2012, new owner Steve Peljovich has worked hard to overcome the deli’s hostile reputation, earned from over 30 years of infamously gruff service. So when one of Peljovich’s regulars requested a bacon-wrapped hot dog, like one he’d seen on the Food Network, Peljovich worked furiously to come up with a compromise. “I don’t have a grill, but I told him I could do something even better,” says Peljovich. After steaming a Pearl Kountry Klub frank, Peljovich wraps the dog in a heaping pile of lean, house-made pastrami and sauerkraut. “Most of our regulars are tried-and-true and eat the same exact thing every day, five days a week, but every once in a while they like to throw me a curveball.” It’s available on bulkie roll or rye bread.
256 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-738-3354 or michaelsdelibrookline.com.
3. Tasty Burger: All The Way Dog
A 1/2-pound hot dog, a hamburger patty, chili, cheese sauce, onions, and bacon. Sound gluttonous? Well, try eating three of those in less than an hour. That’s the task Tasty Burger co-owner Brian Reyelt set forth with his Colossal All-The-Way Dog challenge, the winner of which receives a T-shirt and a photo on the Tasty Wall of Fame. “It’s turned into a time trial for the most part because 30 percent of the people who have attempted it have beaten it,” says Reyelt. “Whoever has the best score gets the challenge named after them, so it’s gotten even crazier.”
Made with a proprietary all-beef hot dog from Connecticut’s Grote & Weigel and Certified Humane, antibiotic-free, grass-fed ground beef, Reyelt’s All The Way Dog is good enough to eat without the “reversal of fortune” bucket and a signed waver. But if you’re determined to have your name on the Tasty menu, the time you have to beat is a mere seven minutes and nine seconds. Good luck.
Fenway: 1301 Boylston St., Boston; 617-425-4444 or tastyburger.com; Southie: 69 L St., South Boston; Harvard Square: 40 JFK St., Cambridge.
4. Bronwyn: The Brondog
Bronwyn chef and owner Tim Wiechmann recently rolled out this Germanic take on the classic chili dog. His house-made hot dog is made from pork shoulder, beef leg, and smoked onion, and is slathered in sauerkraut, tangy emmenthaler swiss, and sauerbraten (a roast made with vinegar marinated brisket, paprika, and stewed tomatoes). Even the the poppy seed-studded potato bread roll is baked fresh every morning. The bar-only menu item is served with a with a side of paprika potato chips and pairs perfectly with Bronwyn’s killer selection of beers from Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
255 Washington St., Somerville; 617-776-9900 or bronwynrestaurant.com.
5. & 6. The Lower Depths: The Boston Strangler and the Belgian
Located just blocks from Fenway Park, this underground craft beer bar specializes in decadent comfort food. Burgers, dogs, and tater tots are the highlights here, all of which can be dressed up with the Lower Depths menu of “Pimp Toppings,” like bacon, beer cheese, and the staff favorite, peanut butter. There’s even a specialty section just for footlong creations like the Boston Strangler, topped with sauteed onions and Mackin’ Cheese (rotini, cheddar, jack cheddar cheese sauce, and crumbled Ritz Crackers), and the Belgian, covered in french fries and house-made garlic mayo. Each of these concoctions uses Kayem all-beef franks that are grilled to order and nestled in a toasted, traditional New England hot dog bun.
476 Commonwealth Ave., Boston; 617-266-6662 or thelowerdepths.com.
7. B & G Oysters: Chicago Dog
Who needs Vienna beef when you’ve got sausage made from the choicest brisket, bacon, pork shoulder, and B&G Oysters’ arsenal of house-made pickles, sport peppers, and Chicago-style accoutrements? Chef de Cuisine Stephen Oxaal’s Chicago Dog (set to debut in late April) is not only an attempt to upgrade the Windy City’s greatest export, it’s B&G’s first seafood-less entree since opening over a decade ago. “What we’ve learned over the years is that even though we’re a seafood restaurant, we still have guests that aren’t the biggest seafood lovers,” says Oxaal. “We really weren’t able to accommodate them before because we didn’t have any meat options. We thought, why not appeal to them by putting on a really kickass hot dog?”
550 Tremont St, Boston; 617-423-0550 or bandgoyster.com.
8. Que Padre Taquería y Mas: Sonoran Dog
Que Padre Taquería owner Victor Duran is a stickler for authenticity, so to create his Sonoran Dog, Duran consulted with the recipe’s originator, Daniel Contreras from El Guero Canelo in Arizona. Like Tucson’s most exalted culinary creation, Que Padre stuffs a house-baked bolillo roll with a bacon-wrapped Kayem hot dog, pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, and Duran’s own sweet and spicy jalapeño sauce.386 Chelsea St., Boston; 617-418-7278
9. The Gallows: Corn Doggs
Corn dogs are all too often a two-part disaster: rubbery hot dog and a cornmeal batter fried until the consistency of a petrified Chick-O-Stick. But The Gallows uses a moist batter similar to airy tempura and an exclusive all beef brisket Pearl Frank that retains its snap. Named after general manager Seth Yaffe’s love of Snoop Dogg, these seasonal favorites are now a staple on the restaurant’s late-night menu. Each platter is served with buttermilk coleslaw, pickled red onion, and grain mustard, but if you’re feeling extra indulgent, ask for the real secret weapon: herbed mayo.
1395 Washington St., Boston; 617-425-0200 or thegallowsboston.com.