Hot dogs wear more than mustard this season.
By Tim Regan
They come in all shapes, sizes and blends of pulverized protein. Here’s a sampling of hot buns and wieners.
BUN The base upon which you build your temple to the hot dog deities.
Windy City Red Hots uses buns shipped from Chicago. The bun, a soft, white bread, is slightly sweet like other hot dog buns, but studded with poppy seeds, a signature Chicago move. The buns arrive steamed, slightly warm and a little damp, in a good way.
DOG Salty, smokey or meaty: hot dogs need protein, usually in the form of a frankfurter or sausage.
Instead of a frankfurter, try a half-smoke from Weenie Beenie. Unlike a hot dog, half-smokes are plumper, more sausage-like and traditionally doused in piping hot chili.
TOPPINGS Like a U.S. senator, a hot dog should not appear naked in public. Toppings define the dog.
To construct the Kaiser, Red Apron’s butchers slap a house-made brat between a fried slice of bread and top it with sweet pickled cabbage, mustard and onions. Nevermind the intimidating name; this dog rules taste buds subjects with subtle sweetness.
The Bombshell, Haute Dogs & Fries‘all beef frank, is buried under caramelized onions, mango, pineapple and jalapenos. Like a Latin romance film, this dog exudes the right amount of savory, sweet and spicy.
The Wieners Circle churns out Baltimore dogs, an amalgamation of a Vienna beef frank, melted cheese and a slab of fried bologna that might remind your of our Northern neighbor: a little salty, a little cheesy but strangely alluring.
Vienna Inn opened in 1960, slathers its ultra-cheap chilidogs (the dogs simmered in beer) with heaps of chili (using dog/beer broth), mustard and diced onions. At $1.95 a pop, these messy dogs cost less than a trip to the dry cleaner.
Haute Dog & Fries 610 Montgomery St., Alexandria & 609 E. Main St., Purcellville; hautedogsandfries.com
Red Apron 8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax, redapronbutchery.com
Vienna Inn 120 E. Maple Ave., Vienna; viennainn.com
Weenie beenie 2680 S. Shirlington Road, Arlington; 703-671-6661
The Wiener’s Circle 348 Vicotry Drive, Herndon; greatfallsgourmet.com/menus/wienerscircle
Windy City Red Hots 20052 Lexington Drive, Ashburn & 28 S. King St., Leesburg; windycityredhots.com