What’s a Philly-Style Hot Dog?

We're not entirely sure, but you can get this candidate for $3 all week.

Lots of American cities have their own, well-known treatments of the lowly hot dog, with the Chicago-style hot dog being, perhaps, the most famous. But in Philly, when I think hot dog, no particularly strong image comes to mind other than a sorta gross metal container of hot dog water that you couldn’t pay me $50 to drink.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of great hot dogs in this city. But there’s not one that’s really celebrated as a Philly hot dog.

Chris’ Jazz Cafe owner Mark DeNinno encountered this conundrum recently as he was working on his Dog Days of Summer promotion. Each week, there’s a different style of hot dog served for $3. It’s part of the bar snacks menu, which might also include things like $1 potato skins (literally deep fried potato peels) or $2 house-made pickles.

For the Dog Days promotion, he did the Trenton hot dog. He did a San Francisco-style hot dog. And, of course, he did the Chicago hot dog, among other regional variations. But when he decided he wanted to do a Philly-style hot dog, he couldn’t really identify one, so he went off to concoct his own.

Well, here’s what he came up with.

He worked with Philly Pretzel Factory on a custom-made pretzel bun that he says has just the right amount of salt and just the right texture for what he wanted.

Inside the bun goes a Nathan’s all-beef hot dog, which is cooked on a flat-top, giving it all those little blackened bits that people who prefer grilled hot dogs love so much. As for the hot dog itself, you can argue all you want about what the best mass market hot dog is. DeNinno stands firm on his conviction that there’s no competition for Nathan’s.

For toppings, DeNinno went with fried onions, Cheez Whiz (because of course) and pickled hot cherry peppers like the ones in the bins at your favorite South Philly cheesesteak spots.

Chris’ Jazz Cafe’s entry for the Philly-style hot dog is available all this week for $3. So who’s coming up with next week’s version?