Baseball season is winding down, but even during the off-season, there is one thing that can instantly call back memories of Summer afternoons at the ballpark: the all-American hot dog. Of course, not all dogs are the same. Many of America’s great ballparks feature their own twist on the classic, and that flavor is an essential part of the city’s identity. So, let’s send this season off with a look at some of the best and most iconic ballpark hot dogs of all time.
Also, before any flame wars break out in the comments between passionate fans of these dogs, keep in mind: the items on the list are not ranked in any particular order.
#1. Fenway Franks
Many ballpark dogs are defined by what goes on the meat; the Fenway Frank, on the other hand, is defined by how the meat is prepared. In contrast to most dogs which are either steamed or grilled, the Fenway Frank is boiled and then grilled in that order. This process allows the frank to retain its natural juiciness, but also have the characteristic snap and flavor of a grilled sausage.
The toppings are up to you, but most agree that the Fenway Frank is a “less is more” item. Maybe some mustard and relish, but you don’t want to overpower the flavor of the dog.
#2. The Cheese Coney
Everyone in Cincinnati loves Skyline Chili, so if you’re ordering a dog at Great American Ballpark, how could it not come loaded with the city’s favorite thick, meaty chili?
A fistful of shredded cheddar cheese is then layered over the chili, then topped with raw chopped onion. Be warned, though: The Cheese Coney is not an endeavor to take lightly. If the action on the field doesn’t give you chest pains, there’s a very real chance that this chili cheese dog might, so keep tabs on the current health care situation before taking a bite.
#3. The Sunrise Dog
Barbeque isn’t the only famed entry in Kansas City’s culinary legacy. The Sunrise Dog served at Kauffman Stadium is essentially a hearty Southern breakfast in hot dog form.
This footlong monster is laid into the bun on a bed of cheddar cheese slices, then buried underneath layer after layer of crumbled bacon and white sausage gravy, before being topped with a fried egg. This thick, greasy, “just rolled out of bed after a long night of partying” dog is just what the doctor ordered.
#4. Dodger Dogs
The footlong signature dog at Dodger Stadium is defined by your flavor preference. You get to choose whether you want the frank grilled or steamed; both options have their perks, but it comes down to whether you’re more into the juiciness of the steamed dog, or the snap of the grilled dog.
After you select your cooking method, the Dodger Dog is dressed in the two traditional toppings: yellow mustard and relish. It’s as classic as the game itself.
#5. The Miller Park Brat
This is the only entry on the list that replaces the traditional frankfurter with a thick and juicy bratwurst. The sausage is grilled and nestled into a sesame seed roll before being dowsed in the special “Secret Stadium Sauce”—a smoky, barbeque-y concoction iconic to Miller Park.
As for toppings, what else could you put on a bratwurst besides sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard? It’s a dish that really embodies the spirit of Milwaukee.
#6. Nathan’s Hot Dog
The iconic Nathan’s Hot Dog is a New York classic that may have been born on Coney Island, but was exported to masses around the world once it became the go-to menu item at Yankee Stadium.
These all-beef kosher dogs are steamed and served with your choice of toppings like mustard, onion, or sauerkraut. Many “real” New Yorkers, though, will swear by Sabrett Onions, a tomato and onion sauce endemic to the area’s dog stands.
#7. Ben’s Half-Smoke
The official dog of the Washington Nationals originates with one of the city’s best-known culinary institutions: Ben’s Chili Bowl.
There is a lot to talk about here in terms what sets the Half-Smoke apart. First, rather than a typical hot dog, the meat is a locally-ground, smoked sausage with a coarse combination of beef, pork, and spices. Done “all the way,” the dog is swimming in Ben’s famous chili, onions, and thick strings of cheddar cheese. The Ben’s Half-Smoke at Nationals Park is a heavy-hitter, but it does its hometown proud.
#8. The Chicago Dog
Everyone knows you can’t leave the Windy City without eating a Chicago-style hot dog. These steamed Vienna Beef dogs were in the running for the official hot dog of baseball. Your typical dog served at Wrigley Field comes with the works: pickles, mustard, onions, neon relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, and celery salt, all pressed into a poppy seed bun.
Just make sure you don’t add ketchup, or you’re likely to get some very angry looks from your fellow patrons.
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