Editor's note: Some of these establishments may have closed or changed offerings. Call the restaurant ahead of time to ensure it's still carrying the food you crave.
This is the perfect time of year to chill out with a tasty dog. Houston abounds with options, whether you’re seeking a street-style classic or a loaded fancy frank.
Chef Willet Feng is known for his umami burgers, but you may want to try out a flavor-packed dog on your next visit to this cult favorite in an underground food court. The bright-red National Deli franks are all-beef, with no fillers or artificial ingredients. Build your own using a customized deli sheet, checking off boxes for fried egg, seared Spam, pickled habanero, and house sambal mayo. Tack on a thick Milo (chocolate malt) milkshake and hand-cut fries, loaded baked-potato-style.
Don’t be fooled by the name—this popular spot makes a mean hot dog. The 100 percent all-beef franks are split and grilled before being nestled into a toasty bun and adorned with toppings like grilled, caramelized onions and mustard, house-made chili and queso, or creamy avocado and bacon aioli. Fans can also skip the meat with a tofu dog; or go for The Big Frank, a footlong creation topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and slaw.
Hit the patio to enjoy a classic hot dog at this Texas-style hangout, which also rocks live music, patio games, rotating taps, and refreshing cocktails (we like the Watermelon Mule). All-beef weenie options include the Chicago Dog with sweet relish, zippy mustard, sport peppers, and dill spears, as well as a deep-fried corn dog made with fresh batter and served with honey mustard. You’ll want some queso-slathered tots as well.
Whether at the Pearland (Biergarten) or Heights (BierHaus) location, it’s all about the brats here. “Make the wurst combo ever” by choosing your bratwurst, bun, and toppings. Buttery house pretzel buns or poppy-seed sweet Hawaiians make the cradle for traditional and exotic options—think pork and beef käsewurst (cheese sausage), spicy kielbasa, vegan chipotle, and blueberry-studded wild boar. Finish your masterpiece with cheddar-bacon bier sauce, sauerkraut, and German sweet mustard, plus a big ol’ liter of Hofbräu.
For wild game and a wild time, hit this hip dive. The outdoor cookshack’s fans love its thoughtful lineup of craft brews and outrageous munchies, the most notorious of which are the wild game weenies in fat pretzel buns. Get a brandy-duck, bacon-cheddar-elk, or smoked-buffalo dog, then stack on house condiments from Creole mustard to porter ’kraut. Tuesdays bring twilight movies and $5 dogs.
Rico’s Morning + Noon + Night
This all-day food kiosk next to Bagby Park slings burgers, brews, shakes, and dogs. Grab a bar seat or picnic table and dig into 100 percent beef franks on local Slow Dough Bread Co. buns. Purists will want the griddled Park Dog drizzled simply with ketchup and mustard, but there’s also a Tex-Mex version packed with chile con queso, guacamole, and pickled jalapeños.
At outposts in Montrose and the Heights, this place pumps out Texas-made dogs, handcrafted condiments, and wild toppings. Our favorites come smothered in beef-chorizo chili and red potato salad (the Picnic Dog) or mac ‘n’ cheese, bacon, and house barbecue sauce (the Rodeo Dog). Whatever you order, it will arrive on a pillowy, locally sourced bun split from the top, then slathered with butter and griddled on the outside to create a golden-brown crust that will hold all the fillings.
Wild game is the literal name of the game at this cult favorite. Exotic sausages such as blueberry-and-red-wine-kissed venison, pheasant with Cognac, and North African–style lamb merguez arrive nuzzled inside perfectly prepped pretzel buns. Stack on your choice of toppings and specialty sauces—a fried egg, dill pickle relish, bacon, habanero ketchup—and don’t forget an order of the addicting python chili-cheese fries.
All-American dogs get an Asian kick at this fusion-food trailer, which pops up at spots like 11 Below Brewing Company and Under the Radar, in addition to its regular Montrose location. Stop by for buttery, toasty buns stuffed with 100 percent beef dogs and outside-the-box ingredients like garlic-butter cream cheese, Japanese mayo, teriyaki sauce, shredded nori, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos dust. Sides include Japanese Bob-B-Q Fries and deep-fried mac ‘n’ cheese Bop Balls drizzled with truffle aioli and furikake seasoning.
Hot dogs are the quintessential street food, and this late-night cart’s version is one of the best in show. There may be only one wiener—a perfectly cooked, all-beef kosher version—on the menu, but the stand nevertheless draws a wrap-around crowd on Friday and Saturday nights. You can customize yours with a choice of six toppings: cream cheese, caramelized and crispy fried onions, Sriracha, honey mayo, and curry ketchup. We say, get it all the way to experience the messy number in its full glory.