A dog with ketchup and mustard? Nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you crave a bit more refinement than the classic red hot provides. There's a whole of craving going on these days -- gourmet wieners are poised to become a national (even an international) phenom, and that's just fine with us. Behold our list of the 10 best gastro-dogs currently gracing buns in San Francisco and beyond. Eat and enjoy -- cocked pinky optional.
1. Foie Gras and Duck Sausage with Truffle Sauce
No doubt the best known fancy dog in the nation (especially after the owner defied a local foie gars ban), Chicago's Hot Doug's tops a duck sausage with foie gras mousse and sel gris
. Need more? This unassuming place also rocks a smoked-pork dog with Jack Daniels and fennel and, on weekends, duck-fat fries. In June, bad-boy chef Anthony Bourdain named Hot Doug's one of 13 places in the world where you should eat before you die.
2. The Crispy Dog
A creation of San Francisco bar 15 Romolo, the crispy dog is a tubular mashup of a wiener from artisan charcutier Fatted Calf filled with cheese, wrapped in a corn tortilla, and deep-fried. In other words, perhaps the tastiest way ever devised to induce a heart attack.
3. The Sonoran
Also known as a Mexican Hot Dog (a specialty of restaurants and wiener stands in Tucson, Ariz.), it's a grilled, bacon-wrapped dog stuffed into a steamed bolillo
roll and slathered with tomatoes, pinto beans, onions, mustard, mayo, and jalapenos. Ay caramba!4. The Kobe Beef and Bacon Dog
Though the cuisine at this San Francisco brasserie pays homage to France, Absinthe isn't above the lowly red hot. The house-made dog contains Kobe beef, heirloom Berkshire pork, and bacon, dished up in a bun brushed with even more bacon fat. Exec chef (and former Top Chef
contender) Jamie Lauren serves it with yogurt-dill potato chips.
5. The Hong Kong Phooey
Make a pilgrimage to East Garden City, Long Island, and seek out the Hot Dawg Truck (look for it near Lowe's), for the Hong Kong Phooey. It's a grilled Sabrett or Boar's Head dog topped with pineapple, bacon, teriyaki, and chives. Worth the schlep.6. The Greek Dog
The New York City Hot Dog Company at Chambers and Church in Tribeca offers a kaleidoscope of toppings, including guacamole and blue cheese. One enduring combination is the Greek, a dog blanketed with hummus, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and olives -- sort of like the Mediterranean diet meets the Sabrett cart.
7. The Chicken Willy
Pittsburgh Willy's, located improbably in a Chandler, Ariz., antique mall, offers pierogies, meatball sandwiches, and plain hot dogs alongside the Chicken Willy. It's a chicken sausage marbled with spinach and Asiago cheese served on a sesame bun. The slogan here? This ain't your daddy's hot dog
. We have to agree.8. The Fly'n Hawaiian
Modeled after a wiener served up at a hot-dog stand on the north shore of Oahu, the Fly'n Hawaiian is the signature creation of Downtown Doghouse in Great Falls, Mont. Owner Dave Snuggs lavishes a standard dog with pineapple, bacon, mozzarella, and honey mustard -- certainly about as exotic a concoction as you'd ever find in Great Falls.9. The French Poodle
With a line-up that includes smoked suck sausages, brand-new Chicago's Dog House in Lincoln Park pays homage to Windy City gastro-dog pioneer Hot Doug's. The French Poodle loads a melange of Brie, pear slices, and Dijon mustard onto a Vienna beef frank. Our favorite name for a dog? The Blago-Chicago Style with Ketchup, a tribute to the former governor.
10. The Northerner
Gastro-dogs jump the pond. The Gourmet Hot Dog Company in London blankets a British pork hot dog with mushy peas, pork scratching (aka pork rinds), and mild horseradish. You probably had to grow up eating mushy peas to totally dig this dog, but we love its fearless spirit of piling excess upon excess, the first rule of the gourmet dog.