There is nothing like the heat of the summer, or a road trip to a sporting event, to get you thinking about hot dogs.
It’s summer, and it has been hot across the country. Last week I became one with my underclothes as the heat bonded me with my Duluth Trading Company drawers at a molecular level. In the midst of this heatwave, I took a road trip with my son, Seth, to watch Liverpool take on Borussia Dortmund at Notre Dame. It was a bucket list expecrience than I was honored to share with my favorite soccer player.
There is nothing like the heat of the summer, or a road trip to a sporting event, to get you thinking about hot dogs. I love hot dogs! I grew up on them. They are a true taste of summer for me…especially my childhood. I think about my dad in the backyard grilling hotdogs for the family. We ate so many meals outside as a family. In the winter we would boil the hotdogs on church nights for a quick meal. A hot dog plus a soft bun and any number of condiments was a Barker family staple. Sometimes hamburger buns were used, and the occasional slice of bread (gross), but for the most part the 3 simple ingredients of dog+bun+condiment= deliciousness!
Perhaps it is the sense of nastalgia, or my road trip, that has me obsessing about hot dogs recently. I wish I knew the number of dogs I’ve eaten. It could be in the multiple hundreds, if not thousands. Nonetheless, I wanted to share my Top 5 Hot Dogs list with you.
Mr. J’s (Chicago, IL)
I first ate at Mr. J’s in high school on a road trip to Chicago. I didn’t know about “Chicago Dogs” but I was quickly informed. The place was so busy you had to order as soon as you walked in the door. You would shout your order number to the guy behind the register. By the time the line moved up to him, your order was ready. Ingredients like celery seed on the bun, sweet relish, sport peppers and even totatoes made the delicious dog even more delectible.
Hear me out. For the money ($1.50/pop) there is no other dog that tastes this great. It is a 1/4 pounder assemble by a guy in a beard net after you’ve snacked on “appetizers” throughout the store. Add to the fact that you get to church your own chopped onions at their condiment bar, and you have everything you need for a great hot dog experience.
Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL
I’m a Cubs fan, which explains the bias, but Wrigley is where I first heard my 2 favorite words in the hot dog world—HEBREW NATIONAL. If you haven’t ever eaten a HN dog then you haven’t had one of the best hot dogs ever. Add to the fact that you are eating it at one of the most historic of baseball facilities, the Friendly Confines, and you get a true dog experience.
Barker Backyard (Quad Cities)
Sitting at a picnic table with an iced Diet Pepsi, Sterzing’s kettle chips, sliced watermelon and a grilled dog is one of my favorite meals. Add a smear of Boetje’s Mustard (pronounced “bulges”) and you get a taste to die for. Don Barker’s beautiful backyard has flowers, lawn art and a goldfish pond that brings peaceful conversation to any meal, even as simple as hot dogs.
Teds Coney Island (Des Moines, IA)
When you enter Ted’s Coney Island, you are brought into a world of simply delicious food. Burgers, Gyros and Dogs. Their dogs bring a sence of nostalgia to the palate. Topped with various classics like chili, peppers, or just delicious mustard. Get the basket meal so you get fries and rings.
I’m sure there are more since I’ve been to numerous beachfronts, ballparks, youth events and farmer’s markets, but these 5 stand out. So, make yourself a simple—yet delicious treat—and start eating!