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Photograph: Elena Besser

The 13 best hot dogs in DC

From chili-loaded franks to sausages with mayo, relish, mustard and ketchup, here are the best hot dogs in DC

By Jessica Estrada

There is nothing that a well-made wiener—whether a chili-loaded frank or a sausage topped with mayo, relish, mustard and ketchup—can’t fix. Whether starving following a day spent visiting the best Washington DC attractions, hungover after a drinking session at the best bars in DC or simply in need of a pick-me-up following a night at the best jazz clubs in DC, the best hot dogs in DC will cure your ails. Trust us.

Best hot dogs in DC

1. Leonardo dog Vinci at Swizzler

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Hot dogs Washington, DC Metro Area

Hot dogs are the name of the game at this food truck in the DMV. Although you can’t go wrong with any of Swizzler’s offerings (all feature 100% grass-fed antibiotic- and hormone-free beef grilled over an open flame), the Leonardo dog Vinci is by far the star of the show. The dog is mouth-watering and is served on a pretzel bun from Lyon Bakery. Traditional hot dog toppings are ditched for house-made pesto, fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes and a balsamic glaze drizzle.

Bourbon Steak
Photograph: Courtesy Bourbon Steak

2. A5 Wagyu Chicago Dog at Bourbon Steak

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American Georgetown

Bourbon Steak chef Joe Palma gives the hot dog a gourmet spin with his decadent A5 Waygu Chicago Dog, which features house-blended pork and A5 sausage nestled in between a bun and topped with pickled sweet peppers and spicy mustard. If you’re in the mood for surf instead of turf, the lobster corn dogs—served with a whole-grain mustard dipping sauce—make for a great treat.

Shack-cago Dog at Shake Shack
Photograph: Evan Sung

3. Shack-cago Dog at Shake Shack

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Fast food spots Penn Quarter

Hot dogs aren’t the first things to come to mind when thinking of Shake Shack. But the fast food burger chain actually started off as a hot dog cart in New York City’s Madison Square Park, which explains their expertise in making delicious wieners. The Shack-cago dog proves to be the biggest crowd-pleaser, featuring an all-natural Vienna beef sausage topped with a medley of yummy condiments including relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato and mustard. Pair it with a side of crispy crinkle cut fries and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

El Centro Dog
Photograph: Courtesy El Centro Dog

4. El Centro Dog at El Centro D.F.

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants District of Columbia

When a hot dog craving strikes late at night, head to El Centro D.F. and order their offering off the siesta menu. All of chef Richard Sandoval’s food is infused with Mexican flavor, including the street-inspired hot dog, which arrives at your table wrapped in bacon and loaded with Mexican slaw, black bean puree and Habanero mustard for a spicy kick.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
Photograph: Courtesy Ben’s Chili Bowl

5. Ben’s Famous All Meat Chili Dog at Ben’s Chili Bowl

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American U Street Corridor

This celebrity frequented hot spot has been a DC mainstay since 1958. You haven’t had a hot dog until you’ve tried the famous all-meat chili dog made with a grilled premium pork sausage nestled in between a steamed bun and drenched with mustard, onions and, of course, the signature chili sauce.

Ivy & Coney
Photograph: Courtesy Ivy & Coney

6. Chicago Dog at Ivy & Coney

4 out of 5 stars
Bars Dive bars Shaw

If you’re looking for a low-key night, don’t make the mistake of visiting Ivy & Coney when the Cubs or Tigers are playing. The Chicago- and Detroit-themed sports bar can get raucous on game nights, but is usually on the tamer side. Modeled after your run-of-the-mill basement, Ivy & Coney is a big kid’s dream: There are video games, comfy couches and cheap hot dogs—served Chicago (yellow mustard, chopped onions, sweet pepper relish, tomato slices and a sport pepper) or Detroit style (chopped onions, chili and yellow mustard), of course.

Photograph: Elena Besser

7. Create-Your-Own HalfSmoke at HalfSmoke

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Columbia Heights

This recently opened Shaw neighborhood spot is already making a name for itself with all-natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free sausages cooked on a wood fire grill. You can create your own half-smoke and top it with things like bacon, meat chili, sauerkraut, pickle relish, BBQ and so much more. Then complete the meal with tater tots or mac and cheese bites on the side and funnel cakes and milkshakes for dessert.

Bayou Bakery, Arlington, VA
Photograph: Courtesy Bayou Bakery

8. Smoked Douille Dog at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Hot dogs Arlington

Housed in a former naval hospital on Capitol Hill, this restaurant’s chill and historic vibe (think exposed bricks and Civil War imagery) pairs nicely with the Louisiana-inspired fare such as chef David Guas’ Smoked Douille Dog. The delicious frank stars an Andouille sausage drenched in Creole mustard and sweet onion marmalade all sandwiched in-between a pillowy potato roll.

Red Apron Butchery
Photograph: Courtesy Red Apron Butchery

9. The Haute Dog at Red Apron Butchery

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Sandwich shops Penn Quarter

Alongside a variety of sandwiches and burgers, Red Apron Butchery serves up a haute dog that’s, well, hot. Smoked paprika, mace and spicy mustard give the pork sausage a nice kick. Topping options include ketchup, diced onion, bacon kraut, relish and chili—all served on a toasted New England roll.

Haute Dog & Fries
Photograph: Courtesy Haute Dog & Fries

10. Banh Mi Dog at Haute Dogs & Fries

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Vietnamese Alexandria

Although Haute Dog & Fries boasts a lengthy list of different hot dogs (think classics like Coney Island and Chicago style and the not-so-classic Duck Duck Dog with hoisin sauce and pickled cucumbers), the most impressive one is the Banhi Mi dog. Inspired by the Vietnamese sandwich, this frank gets topped with jalapenos, cucumber, carrots, cilantro and Sriracha mayo and is served on a toasty, buttery bun. Don’t forget to order a side of the hand-cut Idaho fries to go with your dog.

Greatest American Hot Dogs
Photograph: Courtesy Greatest American Hot Dogs

11. Maryland Dog at Greatest American Hot Dogs

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Hot dogs Rockville

This Rockville spot really lives up to its name thanks, mostly, to its most popular offering: the Maryland Dog. Forget typical condiments like ketchup and mustard, this char-grilled Vienna beef dog is served on a butter-toasted steamed bun and gets loaded with house-made four-cheese mac and cheese, lump crabmeat and scallions. If you’re feeling adventurous, swap the beef out for a half-smoke, turkey or polish sausage.

Bold Bite
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Nick S.

12. DC Classic at Bold Bite

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American H Street Corridor

At Bold Bite, you keep coming back for the half smokes on the menu—especially the DC Classic. Made of half pork and half beef, the 1/4 pound spicy smoked sausage is butterflied, grilled and served on a toasted brioche bun. It is then loaded with spicy mustard, onions and Bold Bite’s homemade beef chili. Bonus points: its budget-friendly price tag.

Galaxy Hut
Photograph: Courtesy Galaxy Hut

13. Frankfurter at Galaxy Hut

3 out of 5 stars
Bars Arlington

Who said vegans can’t enjoy a hot dog? This Virginia beer bar offers a mean vegan chili dog that’s sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Carnivores, don’t worry. The wiener is also available with meat and dairy ingredients. Topping options include bacon, kimichi, kraut, onion and jalapeno for a spicy punch. The dogs are best enjoyed with a beer… and there are 28 craft beers on tap to choose from. 


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