9 Fast-Food Chains That Serve the Best Hot Dogs
Let's face it: the heyday of the hot dog has come and gone. Today, in America, fast-food hamburgers and cheeseburgers rule supreme—though the chicken sandwich is certainly a top draw as well. But, if you were to travel back in time a few decades you'd find hot dogs on the menu at many fast-food restaurants, from Burger King to Wendy's and beyond.
(Fun fact: you never would have found a hot dog on the menu at a McDonald's in America because McDonald's founder Ray Kroc specifically forbade them!)
Today, few fast-food chains have hot dogs on the menu, and even fewer have dogs that are worth barking about. But there are a handful of chains that do still serve a fine example of this classic American food, here's where to get the best ones.
Five Guys is famous for its burgers and for its hand-cut, oversized servings of fries, which it's been serving since 1986. However, Five Guys is also quite good at making hot dogs. The chain offers an all-beef hot dog split and grilled on its flattop with cheese and bacon as optional toppings. This a hefty, stomach-filling dog too with 520 calories, so be careful with the other toppings.
Nathan's entire history is predicated on the hot dog. Indeed, it's the hot dogs for which Nathan's Famous is famous. The chain has three all-beef hot dogs, the basic Hot Dog, the Chili Cheese Dog, and the NY Cheesesteak Dog. It also has a lot of other menu items, like burgers and chicken sandwiches, and killer crinkle fries. (Note: many of Nathan's locations are delivery-only these days.)
Portillo's offers three kinds of hot dogs across its 70 Midwest locations (though half of those are in Chicago.) The specialty is the Chicago-style hot dog with everything including mustard, relish, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, pickles, and peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun. You can also get a veggie dog or Polish sausage with the works.
This chain which has locations in ten states across the West Coast has been all about hot dogs since its founding in 1961, and it still has some fine hot dogs on the menu. Wienerschnitzel offers hot dogs with all types of toppings plus the elusive corn dogs and mini corn dogs.
The chain known for roller skate-wearing servers, wacky drink mashups, and the occasional very odd menu item (often pickle-related) is also a great place to go if you like hot dogs. In fact, as of now, there are four different hot dogs on Sonic's national menu (and maybe more at your local joint) which are the All-American Dog, the Chili Cheese Coney, the Footlong Quarter Pounder Coney, and the Corn Dog.
The battered fries are the biggest draw of Checkers or Rally's—which is one of the few chains that operate different locations under different names—but you should check out the chain's classic Grilled Hot Dog. It's an elegantly simple example of this pure American eat. The dog is grilled and served on a toasted bun with ketchup and mustard. You can ask for it to be dressed up more, but it honestly it doesn't need it.
Dairy Queen is known for its Blizzards but it also serves hot food, including great hot dogs. It does not get more basic or elegant than Dairy Queen's all-beef hot dog. You can order a DQ hot dog plain or with cheese, and then add condiments as you see fit.
Fun fact: The original Shake Shack location was actually a hot dog cart. So, if you have never had one of Shake Shack's flat-top dogs, meaning a hot dog cooked on the chain's flat-top griddles, then you need to change that ASAP. These tasty split dogs are delicious as-is or dressed up with cheese sauce and bacon, and they can be served in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun for a low-carb, high-protein meal.
One of the oldest fast-food chains in the country, A&W sells all-beef hot dogs with various toppings. The chain also has Coney Dogs and Coney Cheese Dogs, as well. And for a small bite, try the five- or 10-piece Corn Dog Nuggets.