We have a day to celebrate just about everything: Nutella, donuts, tequila… Some celebrations are civic-minded, like National Compliments Day (1/24), and some are, well, less so, like National Lumpy Rug Day (5/3).
Actually, and more importantly, today is Nelson Mandela’s birthday. He would have been 100 years old, and he did much more for the world than even the hot dog ever could – even if the backyard BBQs, Independence Day celebrations, baseball games, and the kids’ menus at restaurants all around the United States beg to differ.
But, with a respectful nod to the one-of-a-kind South African icon, this article celebrates the places in the Twin Cities far away that do a hot dog worth that’s actually worth eating – something more than a questionable mishmash of pig parts in an even-more questionable casing to grill on warm summer nights.
These hot dogs, we say, are special.
And yes, we realize some of them might actually be considered “brats” or whatever, but we’re okay with that. If you’re not, you can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here we go.
Kyatchi: Hot dogs and sushi?
A place that is equally enthusiastic about Japanese noodles and sushi as it is about the tradition of baseball – Kyatchi is the Japanese word for “catch” – and the hot dogs eaten at games, sets a whole new standard for creativity in wieners.
Try the Yakisoba Dog, made with stir fried noodles, onion, red ginger and Japanese mayo for a true east-meets-west meal, or just the House Dog topped with yuzu mayo and grilled shishito peppers. They all come with their awesome Japanese potato salad we would have no problem replacing the traditional buckets of Midwestern-style that dominate cookouts around the region with.
Kyatchi | 3758 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409 | 612-236-4429
Nighthawks: Good any time of day
Foot-long hot dog day was one of our favorite days in high school. Hopefully you agree: You can relive that experience here, hopefully without any of the awkwardness that comes from filling a cramped cafeteria with adolescents. They have a list of various, innovative hot dog options – even a vegan “carrot dog” that somehow manages to be just as tasty as the meat variety (though it feels a bit like sacrilege to say so on National Hot Dog Day) – that elevates the experience far beyond anything we ever got in school.
They’re all good, but the signature Nighthawks Dog, with dill mayo, red dragon cheese, spicy mustard, giadiniera and shoestring potato is perhaps the best place to start.
Nighthawks Diner + Bar | 3753 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409 | 612-248-8111
The Wienery: Exactly what you’re looking for
It is exactly what it is – a hot dog joint. It’s been described as “unfussy” which, when it comes to piling condiments onto tube-shaped meats, is probably a good thing; there’s no real way to be elegant with a hot dog anyway.
And the quick and easy counter-service means you’ll never have to wait long for your food – which is a good thing, too. It’s a hot dog. If you ever have to wait long for one, you’re definitely doing it wrong (maybe that’s why Prairie Dogs didn’t last long? We digress).
They’re hot, they’re delicious, and they snap the right way when you bite into them, squirting mustard and ketchup everywhere. They’re done right. Just don’t wear white when you go.
The Wienery | 414 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55454 | 651-333-5798
Uncle Franky’s: A reminder of life’s simple pleasures
Uncle Franky’s is not something that tries to be anything other than what it is: It’s hot dogs. It’s all the right toppings piled high. It’s a slightly surly grill man. It’s small and smoky joint that that makes everything feel somehow better about the world as the hottest of dogs arrives in front of you.
(While the Chicago Dog is an obvious choice here, but we usually go for the Coney…)
See, if we can’t have good humor about the fact that hot dogs are a cultural icon in the United States – something that New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, etc. can all agree on, then we don’t really have much business writing about food. Uncle Franky’s is a timeless reminder that we can all eat savory, delicious comfort food together, without pretense or pomp and circumstance, with a big grin and greasy fingers.
Which, really, feels like the right way to describe “National Hot Dog Day” as a whole.
Uncle Franky’s | 728 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413 | 612-455-2181
Waldmann: Past, present, and future
Waldmann is a wurstery which means they specialize in wurst, which is the German word for sausage, which was the inspiration behind the hot dog as we know it in America today – specifically a frankfurter, from Frankfurt, but you get the idea. They’re made in-house, and, with house-made mustards and ketchup as well, are perfect. They also make beer – they were a brewery first and foremost. It’s a wonderful combination.
And the experience is, once again, a major piece of why you should go here the next time you’re craving cased meat: It’s a restored 1853 beer bar, one of the very first in Minnesota, so you’re basically eating and drinking in a museum. A museum where you don’t have to whisper or worry about breaking anything.
It’s an incredible piece of St. Paul history brought back to life, and, with a brand-new patio just opened this summer, we imagine they’ll be around for many years to come.
Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery | 445 Smith Ave N, St Paul, MN 55102 | 651-222-1857
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