There seems to be no end to the number of ways you can dress up a simple hot dog. A plain frank in a soft bun has the potential to become a masterpiece when loaded with toppings like macaroni and cheese, barbecue pork, chipped ham, or even peanut butter. And there's no need to travel to Chicago or New York City for an epic dog.
We have everything from classic footlongs to hip flatbread dogs to our very own Sonoran hot dogs being slung from stands and storefronts from Gilbert to downtown Phoenix. This is your guide to 10 hot dogs not to miss in metropolitan Phoenix.
The BearShort Leash Hotdogs & Rollover Doughnuts
4221 North Seventh Avenue
Short Leash Hotdogs has been a Valley staple for unique hot dogs since 2011, back when it was just a roving food truck. The Bear — arguably Short Leash's most zany offering — is our favorite signature dog at the restaurant, which is now installed on Seventh Avenue as one of many restaurants in the Melrose District. Choose your meat: bratwurst, regular, all-beef, spicy beer hot, chicken, or vegetarian, and you'll be handed a dog slathered in peanut butter, smoked Gouda, bacon, barbecue sauce, and Cracker Jack — all wrapped in naan bread. The result is a sweet, smoky, nutty treat that satisfies from the first bite to the last. While the combination may seem weird, discovering the deliciousness of the combo is half of what makes the Bear so enjoyable. Pair it with a side salad, potato chips, or killer cheese curds — and don't let a single one of those Cracker Jack bits go unattended.
Carolina DogJoe's Farm Grill
3000 East Ray Road, Gilbert
Joe's Farm Grill rolls out its "Dog Days of Summer" menu every September, featuring nearly a dozen hot dogs. For the remaining 11 months of the year, the grill keeps a few dogs permanently on the menu, including the Carolina Dog. Made by loading pulled pork, Joe's Real BBQ sauce, and coleslaw atop an all-beef, natural-casing hot dog from local Schreiner's Fine Sausage, the Carolina Dog makes eating on the back patio of the farm-to-table restaurant feel even more like a neighborhood picnic. The pulled pork is juicy and expertly seasoned with Joe's in-house barbecue sauce, and the natural-casing hot dog — which lends a satisfying crunch to each bite — tastes like a relic of days gone by.
D-backs DogChase Field
401 East Jefferson Street
While this hot dog is delicious and satisfying, enjoying the classic D-backs Dog at Chase Field is more about ambiance and nostalgia than culinary prowess. Few things scream "USA!" more than eating a hot dog at the ballpark while watching the home team slug it out against their rivals. Order your all-beef D-backs Dog at one of the many concession stands circling Chase Field, and load it up with mustard, ketchup, onions, and relish. Once you make it back to the stands, hold on tight as fly balls and rousing cheers for the home team threaten to topple your creation. It doesn't get any more all-American than that. And if you're feeling more adventurous, the Arizona Diamondbacks concessions are always offering something unique, including the Cheeseburger Dog and the Chicken Enchilada Dog.
Colombian Hot DogSimon's Hot Dogs
4280 North Drinkwater Boulevard, #200, Scottsdale
Here's the breakdown for ordering a Colombian Hot Dog from Simon's Hot Dogs. First, pick your sausage: either beef, pork as Colombian chorizo, pork as German bratwurst, the plant-based California vegan dog, or the Tofurkey Italian vegan dog. The Colombian Hot Dog is the signature dish at Simon's, and comes under pineapple, crushed potato chips, Simon Sauce, and mozzarella cheese (either regular or vgan). You can always pair this dog with unique sides like patacones (fried green plantains), salchipapas (fries with sliced sausage and Simon's Sauce), or maicitos (sweet corn with cheese and bacon).
Chili DogLenny's Burgers
Call it what you want — a Coney or chili dog — but the combination of hot dog and chili is one of the greatest guilty pleasures in the hot dog world. Lenny's Burgers, a local, family-owned diner with locations Valleywide, serves up a tasty chili dog in an atmosphere replete with 1950s-style booths and checkered tile floors. Deceptively simple, Lenny's chili dog includes a beef hot dog slathered in rich, chunky chili, in a traditional sesame bun. The chili is lightly seasoned and perfectly tomato-y, and the hot dog provides a salty base. Enjoy it with a milkshake and a side of fries.
Sonoran Hot DogEl Caprichoso
With four locations across the Valley, El Caprichoso is like the Johnny Appleseed of Sonoran cuisine, especially when it comes to the Arizona fare-staple the Sonoran Hot Dog. Named one of the 50 Essential Dishes of 2017, the Sonoran Hot Dog is a bacon-wrapped beef dog settled in a slightly charred, fluffy bun. The El Caprichoso Sonoran dog comes piled with seasoned beans, a scoop of pico, and of course, mayonnaise – all under heavy sprinkles of white Mexican cheese.
FootlongTed's Charcoal Broiled Hot Dogs
1755 East Broadway Road, Tempe
Plump and juicy and cooked just right — crispy on the outside, moist and meaty on the inside. Cooked over hardwood charcoal, the footlong dog is a go-to for fans of the Buffalo, New York-based hot dog joint. The classic dogs here both are served on fluffy white buns presented either toasted or plain. But we have to admit, we visit this Tempe eatery as much for the sides as the dogs, especially the french fries, because we can order them with gravy, which is a real rarity on this side of the country.
Sonoran Hot DogNogales Hot Dogs
1945 East Indian School Road
While we wait for Apple to add the Sonoran Hot Dog emoji to our iPhones, we'll have to content ourselves with the real thing, made to perfection at Nogales Hot Dogs. Now with three locations across the Valley, Nogales Hot Dogs has attained cult status among locals for a very good reason — and despite only being open from 7 p.m. to midnight (1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday). The Sonoran Dog comes mesquite-smoked and tucked inside a fluffy bun, then covered in bacon, beans, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and helpings of guacamole, spicy peppers, and your choice of hot sauce. Each Sonoran Dog is made to order and best enjoyed piping hot on the spot. Oh, and Nogales Hot Dogs is cash-only, so bring a large supply of bills — you're guaranteed to want more than one.
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Chicago-Style Hot DogJohnny's Burgers & Dogs
3141 South McClintock Drive, #13, Tempe
Johnny's Burgers & Dogs in Tempe does as good a job as we've seen outside the Second City. Snag a Vienna beef Chicago Dog with everything: bright green relish, onions, mustard, sliced tomatoes, pickle spear, peppers, and a pinch of celery salt, packed into a steamed poppy seed bun. While Phoenix is a long way from Illinois, those who finish Johnny's formidable Chicago Dog might leave the burger joint temporarily rooting for the Chicago Bears — but don't worry, the effect wears off.
The Kimchi Corn & Cheese DogTwisted Munchies
Based out of Gilbert, Twisted Munchies is a local pop-up food stand, traveling throughout the Valley in Maricopa County to meet food those in the mood for rainbow-colored street corn and other street food options. Around since 2018, Twisted Munchies is usually found at food festivals, dispensaries, or sometimes just around. A recommended order, although it's hard to pass up the wildly colored fries and corn, is the kimchi corn and cheese dog. But hey, why not get all three?
Editor's note: This story was originally published on October 15, 2015. It was updated on February 29, 2020. Cal Faber contributed to this article.