Even before the warm weather started, we lost two of the city’s best hot-dog joints. (RIP, Hot Diggity and Moe’s Hot Dog House.) But while we may be a couple grills short this summer, don’t despair. Our hot-dog bench is deep in Philly, and here are six dogs to try while the sun is hot and the days are long.
Hot dogs are labeled clockwise from the upper left.
- Pretzel Dog at Miller’s Twist
I come from Rochester originally, and one of the best things about going back there is getting bagel dogs (a hot dog inside a bagel stuffed with melted cheese) for breakfast. This is the Philadelphia version of that—a hot dog wrapped in the loving embrace of a soft pretzel and squirted with plain yellow mustard. It’s a must-get anytime you’re within three blocks of the Market.
Reading Terminal Market, 51 North 12th Street, Market East.
- Mortadella Hot Dog at Alla Spina
All tube-shaped meats are not created equal. And if you’re going to open a graffiti-tagged Italian gastropub, you’d better spike that menu with something like this—a pork sausage seared on the griddle and served hot-dog-style on a bun with cabbage
relish and spicy pickles.
1410 Mount Vernon Street, Spring Garden.
- Kobe Chili-Cheese Dog at Varga Bar
Varga Bar is dependable for so many things (a good bar, real crab fries, excellent chicken wings) that if its hot dog had been some dull, dirty-water variety in a limp grocery-store bun, it wouldn’t have just been forgettable—it would have been out of character. So it’s good, then, that this Kobe beef dog, topped with beer-braised chili, shaved pickles and white cheddar cheese, is anything but boring.
941 Spruce Street, Washington Square West.
- Georgia Bulldog at Underdogs
An all-beef dog, a perfect Cacia’s roll, and, in the case of the Georgia Bulldog, an ideal balance between the hot dog and the barbecue sandwich. Underdogs tops this one with a house-made pepper hash and a squirt of mustard barbecue sauce. It ain’t pretty, but it’s one of the best dogs in the city right now.
132 South 17th Street, Rittenhouse.
- Heart Attack at Grubhouse
Look, there’s something to be said for a plain old dog with mustard, and you can get that at Grubhouse. Not only that, but it’ll be an “Old Original Levis Hot Dog,” so here’s to keeping it local. But for those who want to stand with one foot in the grave, there’s the Heart Attack—a Levis dog wrapped in bacon and adorned with chili and cheese. Those scallions on top? Those are to make it healthy.
2340 South Hemberger Street, South Philly.
- Tuscan Tony at Paesano’s
Like Grubhouse’s Heart Attack dog, the Tuscan Tony is a hot dog wrapped in something and then topped with stuff—the Texas Tommy model, only with a passport. Here, the all-beef dog is wrapped in soppressata and topped with a bolognese sauce, sharp provolone and long hots.
148 West Girard Avenue, Northern Liberties, and 1017 South 9th Street, Bella Vista.
Originally published in the July, 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.