Move over burgers and make room for hot dogs, the latest great sizzle on the food scene.
We can thank the food truck craze for bringing gourmet hot dogs to the masses and trendy 'haute' dog cafes such as Atlanta's new hot dog eatery HD1 by chef Richard Blais, a winner on Bravo TV's "Top Chef."
Today’s dogs are all about the bark. We’re talking upscale, artisanal, fully loaded, pimp my hot dog swagger.
, a Sandy Springs favorite since 1996, is hoping to benefit from the hot dog revival. Located in the Hammond Exchange shopping center, they specialize in Chicago-style hot dogs, with blues music and kitschy memorabilia to enhance the vibe. Orders are placed at the counter and efficiently prepared for quick take-out or casual dine-in.
Mike’s classic Chicago franks are steamed Vienna Beef brand hot dogs - imported from Chicago, 100 percent beef, skinless, without casing and topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, diced onions, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers, a dash of celery salt, and packed in a steamed poppy seed bun.
All hot dogs are dressed to order, allowing you to choose from an array of toppings. Brats, Polish sausage, veggie dogs and made-to-order crispy fries are other popular favorites. A fully loaded hot dog is priced from $3 to $5, depending on the size, regular or jumbo.
Ringside Franks and Shakes is a recent addition to the hot dog diner scene. Opened since September on Roswell Road, they offer hefty 100 percent beef hot dogs, beer brats, chicken sausages and veggies dogs, locally sourced from European-style Wienerz Factory in Marietta.
According to the menu, no fillers, artificial flavors or animal by products are used in their franks. Menu items also include regular-size skinless Vienna Beef hot dogs, hand-cut fries and shakes.
Modern red metal tables and chairs brighten the sparsely furnished restaurant, which includes counter seating and an open grill. Hot dogs and buns come perfectly char-grilled with free mustard, ketchup, relishes, mayo and diced onions.
Grilled peppers, chili, jalapeno pimento cheese and coleslaw are among the many topping choices for an additional charge. Hot dogs are reasonably priced under $5, depending on size and selections.
Frank Talk - What You Should Know About Your Hot Dog
Hot dog choices available on grocery store shelves are staggering. There's organic, nitrate-free, uncured, reduced-fat, low-calorie, skinless or natural casings, gluten-free, 100 percent grass-fed beef, vegetarian and low-sodium hot dogs.
You’ll find new gourmet options such as chicken apple sausage, Thai curried turkey and Italian sweet basil garlic franks competing for shelf space.
Surprisingly, some of these “healthier” options actually taste good, but that’s not to say they are necessarily good for you.
Hot dogs and all processed or cured foods like deli meats, bacon, ham, and even those containing chicken and turkey, should be consumed on a limited basis since they contain nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to health risks.
A recent New York Times article quoted USDA officials and food manufacturers, who said even natural and organic hot dogs contain residual amounts of nitrates and nitrites from natural sources of preservatives, such as celery powder or celery juice.
A Healthy Twist
Let’s face it, hot dogs are guilty pleasures like so many other foods we enjoy now and then. When I do have that occasional hot dog, I look for 100 percent grass-fed beef with no preservatives or artificial flavorings. Then, I dress it up with loads of healthier toppings like mustard, grilled onions and raw chopped vegetables.
These fun twists below on familiar Vietnamese and Mexican dishes can easily be adapted with veggie dogs or grilled chicken tenders.
- Banh Mi Dog
Grilled grass-fed all-beef hot dog in a toasted French bun with shredded raw broccoli slaw, green onions and cilantro served with reduced-fat olive oil mayo, lime and Sirachi hot sauce dressing.
- Ole’ Salsa Dog
Reduced-fat spicy jalapeno chicken sausage with fresh salsa, avocado slices, cilantro, reduced-fat Mexican cheese wrapped in a whole wheat or corn tortilla; then grilled.