Ever since my mother sliced hot dogs into coins and slid them across my high-chair tray, I’ve considered them America’s quintessential lowbrow fare. They can be prepared with nothing more than a stick and a campfire, or eaten one-handed in the stadium bleachers, fist free for haranguing the umpire. Over the years, the Twin Cities have amassed a cadre of beloved hot-dog institutions—Uncle Franky’s, Chris & Rob’s (formerly Joey D’s), and The Wienery among them—famous for their Vienna Beef franks and the incomparable ambiance that comes from turning Chicago Bulls paraphernalia or jail-booking bracelets into décor. But inspired by the recent gentrification of classic comfort foods—burgers topped with foie gras, pizza with duck confit—a new breed of hot dogs have gone haute. Muddy Waters serves a weekend-brunch wiener that’s topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, and a soft-cooked egg. Sonora Grill wraps its house-made frankfurter in bacon and piles it with turkey chorizo, sautéed onions, tomato, and a zippy cilantro aioli. But Tilia’s hot-dog duos are my gourmet go-to fave: either the original BLT dog with pickled cauliflower (no longer on the menu, but sometimes available by request) or the new version topped with a sweet, tangy, baked-bean-evoking bacon vinaigrette that’s spiked with scallions and hot peppers, and crackling with bits of fried garlic. Don’t even think about ketchup.
Go, Dog. Go!
2933 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-872-2232, muddywatersmpls.com
Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-871-1900
2726 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-354-2806, tiliampls.com