Chow Bella

Celebrate BBQ Season in Style with "Haute" Dogs

You may be thinking of having a hot dog to commemorate Independence Day. You may also be thinking you don't really want to DIY over a hot grill in 110-degree weather just to eat a plain old mystery-meat wiener with mustard and relish.

Frankly, we don't blame you.

Here are three places to eat upscale hot dogs, and all are open on July 4.

Café Bink: Kevin Binkley and crew make hot dogs in-house, a labor-intensive process that turns a traditionally inexpensive product into something relatively expensive but oh-so-worth-it.

Café Bink's dogs are made with 80 percent pork butt and 20 percent Harris Ranch beef -- half of the meat mixture pureed, and the other have ground to give it an interesting, sausage-like texture. Dijon mustard and a bit of brown sugar are added to the meat mixture, while cornichon pickle juice is added to what usually is an emulsion of water and nothing else.

The mixture is stuffed into real hog casing and stored in the fridge for a day, until the dog's exterior develops a tacky surface. Then the dog is hot-smoked in the oven and seared before service, arriving in a house-made bun with whole grain mustard, house-made pickle relish and onion. Possessing the snap of a good sausage, this smoky-sweet dog is aces ($9).

Modern Steak: Suspend your outrage about Kobe beef not really being Kobe beef for a moment and just chomp down on Modern Steak's plump, juicy Kobe beef dog, served with sides of grated cheese, onions, bacon, diced tomato and pickle relish for topping. It's a beautiful thing -- served as a six-incher for lunch ($10) and a foot-long for dinner ($18).

The Mission: Leave it to Matt Carter to turn the funky Sonoran hot dog into something upscale -- same idea, just better ingredients: Kobe beef dog, wrapped in bacon and topped with green chile-pinto beans, grilled onions and crumbly cotija cheese ($12, lunch only).

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Nikki Buchanan