Grilled & Topped: Get Your Hands on a Gourmet Hot Dog

By: Toni Cunningham | July 11, 2014

It should come as no surprise that July is National Hot Dog Month. This is the time of year when lazy weekend afternoons are filled with backyard barbecues, ball games and picnics. And what do those three activities have in common? They involve food, and more specifically, they often involve hot dogs.

Since hot dogs are often consumed in a casual setting, one might not think to head out to grab lunch or dinner at an establishment that specializes in hot dogs. Well, dear reader, if that’s your way of thinking, you’ll miss out on some seriously good hot dogs in Southeast Michigan. Grab a friend and head to one of the following hot dog restaurants in Metro Detroit for an unfussy and delicious meal:

Atomic Dawg, 2705 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley, serves 100 percent all beef, gourmet hot dogs available for dine-in or carryout. The menu includes nearly a dozen different varieties of dawgs, starting with the namesake Atomic Dawg, which is split, grilled and filled with your choice of toppings.

Additional menu choices include the Milwaukee Dawg (with Canadian slaw and French’s mustard), BBQ Hog Dawg (topped with pulled pork, Canadian slaw and house made barbecue sauce), Hula Dawg (with teriyaki sauce, grilled pineapple, grilled onions, lettuce and Japanese cherry mayo) and Swanky Franky (wrapped with bourbon smoked bacon and topped with jalapeno lava cheddar cheese).

You can build your own dawg, add a side of crisp potato chips to your order, or round things out with a piece of Southern Fried Apple Pie for dessert.

Detroit Dog Co., 103 N. Ann Arbor St., Saline, just opened last year and serves handcrafted hot dogs that are promised to be the best in the area. Made with “legendary local ingredients,” the Dearborn brand hot dogs are accompanied with other Detroit favorites like Faygo pop, McClure’s pickles, Better Made chips and more.

Sticking with the Michigan theme, several of the hot dogs on the menu are named after local namesakes. To start, choose your dog: a classic Dearborn hot dog, polish dog, turkey dog or veggie dog. Then, you have your choice from the menu including the Mexicantown (topped with ground chorizo, avocado, tomato, jalapenos, cheddar cheese and sour cream), Boblo Island BBQ (topped with homemade coleslaw, onion rings and barbecue sauce), Detroit BLT (topped with bacon, romaine lettuce, tomato and homemade smoked maple mayo), and Slim Shady (topped with deep fried pickles, cheddar cheese, grilled onions and mustard).

Add a side of Dog Fries with chorizo and cheese, or some Deep Fried Cookie Dough for dessert, ignore the sound of your arteries clogging, and enjoy your meal!

Vinsetta Garage, 27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley, is a restaurant housed in the oldest car garage this side of the Mississippi. The garage-turned-restaurant serves up three different dogs, including the Classic Detroit Coney (topped with homemade chili, chopped onion and French’s mustard), Yeti Dog (wrapped in bacon and deep fried, topped with melted pepper jack cheese, chopped tomato, shredded romaine lettuce and mayo) and 3 A.M. Dog (topped with homemade bacon jam, a fried egg, chives, crispy fried onions and Sriracha mayo).

Did I say three hot dog items on the menu? I misspoke. In case you’ve ever wanted to try hot dog pizza, now is your chance! Vinsetta serves Sir Shakes’ Coney Pie, a pizza that consists of hot dogs, homemade Coney dog chili, chopped white onions, a special blend of cheese, smoked cheddar cheese and French’s mustard.

Rosie O’Grady’s, 279 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale, is different from the restaurant’s three other locations in the Metro Detroit area. First, it’s the only one I’ve ever been to, and secondly, it’s the only location that has hot dogs on its menu.

There are half a dozen “City Dogs” to choose from, including the New Yorker (served with sauerkraut, mustard and onion-spiked ketchup), Swanky Franky (with melted cheddar cheese and bacon) and Detroiter (with chili, mustard and onions).

Hungry yet? You should be.

Zack’s Hot Dogs, 28650 Dequindre Rd., Warren, has over 30 different hot dogs on its menu, so if variety and plenty of choices are what you’re looking for, this is the place to be. The private label hot dogs served at Zack’s are made just for the restaurant, and are made from only the finest cuts of beef available.

As previously mentioned, there are over two-dozen dogs to choose from. Your options include the Pizza Dog (slathered with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni), Chicken Fried Hot Dog (battered, fried and topped with white sausage gravy), Traverse City Dog (battered, fried and coated with Cherry Coke barbecue glaze, topped with cole slaw) and Mushroom Swiss Dog (with mayo, grilled onions, mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese).

Imperial, 22828 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, is most well known for its selection of tacos, but the Sonoran hot dogs on the menu will keep you coming back for seconds, and possibly thirds.

There are four different hot dogs on the menu, including a monthly special. The Imperial Sonoran (a bacon-wrapped hot dog with stewed beans, tomato, onion, queso fresco, cilantro, poblano lime cream and salsa cede) and Bakersfield Sonoran (bacon-wrapped dog with barbecue chicken, pineapple, jalapeno onion relish, chipotle aioli, cilantro and queso fresco) are great choices that are always on the menu. This month’s special hot dog is a nod to the Philly—a bacon-wrapped hot dog with carne asada, fire roasted peppers, caramelized onion and white cheddar jalapeno cheese sauce.

If you’re a non-meat eater, the Vegetarian Sonoran will likely get your mouth watering. It includes a Smart Dog vegetarian hot dog topped with guacamole, mole, stewed beans, tomato, roasted corn, jalapeno onion relish, salsa verde, queso fresco, poblano lime cream and cilantro.

There are some things that just make sense, and hot dogs and summer go together like nothing else. This July, celebrate National Hot Dog Month the only way you can: with a hot dog in hand!