Editor’s Picks

Houston’s 7 Best Hot Dogs

Where would America be without hot dogs?

By Katharine Shilcutt June 30, 2014 Published in the July 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Good Dog Houston

Once a popular food truck, Good Dog Houston parked itself in a permanent brick-and-mortar location in the Heights in November 2013, where it quickly became an equally popular restaurant. Long lines often form here on the weekends, with patrons seeking house-made dogs on fresh-baked buns, local beer, and chilly milkshakes. The condiments, too, are made in-house, including the Sriracha ketchup and “short bus” mustard that top the hand-dipped corn dogs. Our favorites are the Guac-a-Dog slathered with guacamole, jalapeños, cumin, and lime and the unusual Sunshine Dog, which pairs pickled red onions and dill relish with cream cheese and mayonnaise. Yes, it totally works.

Happy Fatz

Tucked into a converted bungalow on the bustling White Oak thoroughfare, Happy Fatz has the distinction of being the only place we know of to serve a breakfast hot dog. It’s called The Clucker, and we promise there’s a hot dog under the hash browns, bacon, and fried egg. At lunch, try the Texas Chili Dog made with Shiner Bock chili, cheddar cheese, and Fritos, or the St. Louis, which tops its frank with baked beans and basil-garlic mayo. Save room for dessert, because Happy Fatz also bakes its own cupcakes, cake balls, and more.

The Hot Dog Shop

You can’t get a breakfast hot dog here, but you can get breakfast—including waffles, omelets, and burritos. But, of course, you’re here for the hot dogs. Why not go all out and get the foot-long The Hot Dog Shop is famous for? The all-beef dog comes with your choice of four toppings, or you can simply ask for the foot-long “Chicago style.” For even more Windy City inspiration, grab a Maxwell Street Polish or a spicy Chicago Fire Dog.

JCI Grill

What’s JCI Grill? That’s the new name of the 91-year-old beloved Houston hot dog institution James Coney Island, which is in the process of rebranding. Thankfully, they’re not losing the famous hot dogs, including the classic coney with Kraft Cheese Whiz, or the Texas, topped with mustard, chili, cheddar cheese, and onions. You can go gourmet here too, however, with all-beef franks on buns from Slow Dough Bread Co. and toppings like chipotle mayo and guacamole. 

Moon Tower Inn

Though the menu has expanded to offer hamburgers and even fancy meat-and-cheese plates since Moon Tower Inn first opened in 2010—back when it resembled nothing so much as a glorified backyard cookout—the hot dogs, served until at least 2 a.m. most nights, are still the biggest draw. The wild game dogs come in a variety of meat options, from rabbit and duck to elk and buffalo, and are served up in soft pretzel buns. Tell the kitchen to top the dogs as they see fit; it’s easier than trying to pick the toppings yourself. Select your beer from one of the 66 beers, mostly Texan, on the tap wall.

Nathan’s Famous

Memorial City Mall is home to the first Houston location of Nathan’s Famous—the New York City hot dog chain known for serving everyone from Al Capone and Franklin Roosevelt to the king and queen of England. The classic hot dogs still only come with a handful of topping choices—chili, cheese, sauerkraut, red onions, and, curiously, salsa—but now you don’t have to travel to the Big Apple to get a bite.

Sammy’s Wild Game Grill

Sammy’s may call them “wild sausage dogs,” but we call them some of our favorite hot dogs in Houston. In addition to the standard buffalo, venison, and pheasant dogs, there’s a constantly changing rotation of other wild-game dogs ranging from antelope to kangaroo (the latter is grassy, buttery, and altogether irresistible). Sammy’s also stocks killer sauces, like a peppery Cajun remoulade and a fruity-spicy ghost pepper sauce that’s surprisingly addictive given its heat level. On the side, we recommend the french fries topped with python chili, though if you’re on a diet you can always get a wild game salad. We hear the llama is great.

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