After trying four different specialty hot dogs, one stood out for its incredibly rich, unique flavor.

By Bridget Hallinan
August 07, 2019

Although hot dogs can be—and should be—enjoyed all year round, like burgers, they’re at their peak in the summer, charring on grills across the country and getting slicked with ketchup and mustard at the ball game. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good ballpark dog. But while we were in the throes of grilling stories this summer, we decided to poke around and see what other (read: not easily found in most grocery stores) hot dogs the world had to offer. After all, high-low foods (such as caviar and potato chips) are a Food & Wine favorite, and we loved the idea of trying a higher-quality version of the cookout staple. So we called in some samples, ending up with beef hot dogs from four different brands: Pat LaFrieda, Snake River Farms, The Brooklyn Hot Dog Company, and KC (Kansas City) Cattle company. Some were wagyu, some were regular beef. Needless to say, it was a pretty exciting day in the office.

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Armed with a spread of toasted buns, yellow mustard, sliced pickles, and ketchup, we got to work, moving down the line to taste each chargrilled dog. We tried them “naked” and slathered in toppings—with each bite, we paid special attention to texture, taste, flavor notes, and how well the hot dog married with the toppings. In the end, we were pretty dehydrated from the salt overload, but it was well worth it to discover one of the most unique hot dogs we’ve ever tasted. Read on for our thoughts:

Pat LaFrieda All Natural Casing Uncured Beef Frankfurters

Pat LaFrieda’s frankfurters tasted like a classic ballpark dog, but better. Our editors felt it had a rich, distinct flavor and snappy outer casing that gave way to a smooth texture inside. The size was perfect for the bun—it was enjoyable with or without toppings.

“This is a real people-pleasing one,” one editor wrote.

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The Brooklyn Hot Dog Company Smoked & Uncured Classic Beef Hot Dogs

While the other hot dogs were shorter and thick, The Brooklyn Hot Dog Company’s were long and skinny, stretching beyond the confines of your average bun. The casing was thicker and had a good snap, appearing slightly wrinkly when grilled—as for the flavor? It was smoky and salty, complemented by a chewy texture. 

“Nice length and texture,” an editor wrote. “I think this one is actually the most ‘classic’ of the dogs.”

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Snake River Farms American Wagyu Beef Gourmet Frankfurters

Snake River brought the smokiest hot dogs to the table—they were juicy and well-spiced, and one editor likened the tasting notes to kielbasa. The texture was smooth and uniform, with a snappy casing.

“More bite than Pat LaFrieda but still smooth and ‘hot-doggy,’” an editor noted. “Great meaty flavor, spices, and good snap from the casing.”

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Kansas City Cattle Company Uncured Wagyu Beef Hot Dogs

This hot dog blew us away. The umami! The spice! The beefiness! It was basically like eating a steak in a bun, or an elevated “tube steak,” if you will. The flavor had real depth and smoky undertones, and the texture and color (darker, more brown than red) was different than most hot dogs—in a good way.

“So rich and flavorful. It’s well-spiced and the taste is almost similar to kofta,” an editor wrote. “Although it doesn’t strictly remind me of a hot dog in flavor, I’m 100 percent sold—it also stands up to toppings really well, and the flavor still comes through.”

Get them here.

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