Since July is National Hot Dog Month, I doggedly embarked on a journey to fetch a tasty hot dog. But let’s be frank about franks for a moment.
I may be dogmatic in what I’m looking for in a dog, but I crave the well-roasted variety whose skins have some snap to them when you take a bite — just like the ones I remember at Nathan’s Famous in New York, where my dad would take us as kids. You might know this Coney Island legend for its annual hot dog-eating contest.
So I trotted into DK Dogs on Derry Street in Harrisburg and ordered the fanciest hot dog I could find: the Chicago dog. This little wiener was tucked into a poppy seed bun and then topped with pickle spears, mustard, onions, sweet relish, hot banana peppers, tomatoes and celery salt. I bravely took a bite, as such a gussied-up frank is very out of character for me. I tend to go for plain dogs with just a squiggle of yellow mustard.
My first reaction was, “Doggone it, there’s no snap!” Then my taste buds ricocheted with, “Hot diggety, this dog is not for amateurs (or neat freaks)!”
This all-beef Berks hot dog quickly made up for the lack of snap with its masterful mélange of flavors, without any one in particular stealing the show. The fresh, hot, boardwalk-style fries on the side didn’t hurt either.
DK Dogs also serves many other regional flavor combinations, such as the Philly dog, with grilled onions, mustard and provolone cheese on pretzel roll; the Texas dog, with chili, cheddar cheese sauce, jalapenos and onions; and the Buffalo dog, with hot sauce, bleu cheese and celery salt. And you can upgrade any DK dog to a footlong size. Go big (and messy) or go home!
Not far from DK Dogs is the well-known Jimmy the Hot Dog King. While not nearly as extravagant in terms of menu offerings, this classic hot dog shop makes a mean chili dog.
You could say the same of the hotchie dogs at Hamilton Restaurant in Carlisle. The only catch is that these “hot chilly” cheese dogs with minced onions and mustard are not on the menu, so be sure to order them by name.
Meanwhile, Hanover locals will tell you that the chili dogs at Texas Hot Weiner Lunch are unbeatable.
Here are some other local joints that rank right up there for their hot dogs:
-- All Star Hot Dawgs, 2899 Whiteford Road, Suite K04, York
-- Dewz Dogz, 930 N. Front St., Route 11&15, Wormleysburg
-- Epex Soft Pretzels & More, 984 Loucks Road, York
-- Famous Hot Weiner, 160 Dart Drive or 101 Broadway, Hanover; 245 N. Main St., Unit 7, Spring Grove
-- Joe’s Famous American Kitchen, 608 Richmond Drive, Suite 109, Lancaster
-- Johnny Law Dawgs, Lancaster (food truck)
-- J.R.’s Fresh Cut French Fries, Central Market House, 34 W Philadelphia St., York
If all else fails, you can always grab a famous “Spot Dog” at Metro Bank Park while watching a Harrisburg Senators ballgame. R.I.P. The Spot.
Hot dogs. Frankfurters. Franks. Wieners. Wienies. Dachshund sausages. Red hots. Whatever you call them, where do you get your favorite?
Erica Streisfeld is the editor for custom publishing at Journal Multimedia, parent company of the Central Penn Business Journal, but she moonlights as a foodie and wino. Many people also know her as founder of the Harrisburg Cupcake Cup, a community cupcake competition that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and owner of Little Ditty Pops. Follow her at @HbgFoodandWine.