Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? While we’re big fans of “traditional” franks with sweet relish, chili or cheese (or, of course, the infamous West Virginia Hot Dog, piled high with chili, slaw, mustard, and onions), there are tons of places that put a twist on a classic to produce some of the craziest—and in truth, most delicious—creations to ever grace a bun.
For some strange reason (we could speculate on why that is, but we’ll refrain), a disproportionately high number of these Frankenfranks seem to have originated somewhere in the South. Don’t believe us? Check out five classic southern frank stands and their assortment of oddball dogs:
Hillbilly Hot Dogs
Lesage, West Virginia
From a 12’ x 16’ shack to a couple of repurposed school buses … from “cash only” to mobile phone payments … the history of Hillbilly Hot Dogs is as unique as the menu. You can even hold a Weenie Weddin’ at the chapel. The hot dogs themselves range from classic to crazy, but the undisputed king of the menu is “15-inches of pure eatin’ pleasure” dubbed the Homewrecker. A full pound of a sandwich with meat, jalapenos, peppers, onions, nacho cheese, habanero, chili sauce, mustard, lettuce, slaw, tomato, and shredded cheese. Shove that puppy down in under 12 minutes and get a free t-shirt. Or take you time and savor every convoluted bite. Either way, you win.
New Orleans, Louisiana
A growing chain with five locations (so far), Dat Dog features amazing (and amazingly affordable) food served by a fun-loving staff amid some of the brightest colors you’re ever likely to see in a wiener joint. Combining the Creole soul of Louisiana with a dash of European, the lovingly and artfully crafted menu gives patrons the opportunity to create their very own “jazz improvisation in a bun,” choosing from a range of over 30 toppings (all available at no extra charge). The menu has plenty of vegan options, or you can go “native” with the Crawfish Étouffée Dog (made with crawfish sausage … what a concept) or the Son of a Saint: alligator sausage with onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, Creole mustard, barbecue sauce, and bacon.
Vic the Chili Man
Charlotte, North Carolina
An individual quite obviously unafraid of tooting his own horn, Vic the Chili Man boasts how he “single-handedly transformed the entire world of street meat.” His devoted fan club seems to agree, giving him rave reviews, and Money magazine rated him the best in the nation (based on Yelp reviews). Despite the fact that there’s almost always a line at his uptown Charlotte street cart, people come from all over town to nosh on his unique creations. A particularly popular offering: the Frito Pie Dog, which comes loaded with jalapeños and crushed chili and cheese Fritos, and swaps out the tang of barbecue sauce in favor of a light garlic and onion sour cream.
Red Top Dogs
The folks at Red Top seem to understand that few things go as well with your dog as a nice cold can of brew; they take things a giant step further by filling their beer-and-brats joint with old-school ping pong, darts, pinball or vintage arcade games. Make no mistake: Red Top offers some way-out choices in hot-dogs, as well. The Cali, for example, is an Australian wagyu beef hotdog wrapped in apple wood smoked bacon with guacamole. Or try the Germantown, a Wild Boar sausage on a pretzel bun with gouda beer cheese, bourbon grilled onions, apple bacon sauerkraut, and bourbon molasses. Hmmm … maybe you won’t need that brew after all!
Moon Tower Inn
Speaking of beer, Moon Tower Inn not only features plump-and-meaty game dogs, they also happen to be one of the premiere craft-beer spots in the Houston (including an on-site brewery). And while the wild-game dogs already have tons of flavor packed in, it’s the amazing topping choices that really throw these sausages over the top. We’re talking feta cheese, sambal mayo, sliced jalapeños, creole mustard, beer kraut, and more. Of course, your best bet is probably just telling the kitchen to dress your dog as they please: give them 15 minutes, and you’ll experience the most wildly topped, remarkable-tasting dog you’ve ever slid between your lips.