Comfort food has become something more in recent years as we’ve started to realize that it doesn’t have to be filet mignon to be a good meal. Something as simple as a hot dog, we’ve discovered, can be something great. Something… fancy? But that’s the Minnesota way. We love our down-home cooking. We love our tailgating. And if we can get a gourmet version of a hot dog, we’re all over it. Here are the best places to find them.
3753 Nicollet Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
These dogs are enormous. Remember the foot-long hot dog from school lunch way back in the day? That’s what we’re looking at here, except much, much better. Try the tangy signature Nighthawks Dog, with dill mayo, red dragon cheese, spicy mustard, giadiniera and shoestring potato. Vegetarians are looked after as well, with a “carrot dog” topped with anything found on the hot dog menu. Honestly, it’s good enough that you don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it. Make sure to check out happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., when a hot dog and a beer are only $10.
289 E. 5th St.
St Paul, MN 55101
With the new Saints ballpark open across the street, the bar menu at Heartland was updated to reflect good ol’ fashioned Americana tastes. You can get burgers and ribs that are amazing, and also a kielbasa corn dog that might be the best thing on the bar menu. The spicy, cornbread wrapped around the amazing, made-in-house sausage is the stuff that childhood dreams are made of. Heartland hot dogs can be found inside the stadium as well, so if you didn’t get enough before the game you can enjoy them during the game as well.
55408, 610 W. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Taking the hot dog to a whole new level, this Minneapolis eatery dedicated to all things tubed meat knows that the burnt wieners left on the grill just won’t cut it anymore. Made with, and topped with, ingredients usually reserved for the finest Twin Cities’ restaurants, these hot dogs and sausages will have you wondering how you ever lived without them. Make sure to check out the menu on their website to get a feel for what you’re in for, as there are some pretty wild dogs on the list. Ingredients range from chicken pate and pork belly to daikon radish and shiitake mushroom. Added bonus: You can get these dogs delivered.
3758 Nicollet Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
It might seem strange that a Japanese restaurant that makes excellent sushi, rice and noodles also has a hot dog menu that is just as good. And then you remember that there are no rules anymore. Sit down for one of Kyatchi’s hot dogs, like the Yakisoba Dog made with stir fried noodles, onion, red ginger and Japanese mayo, or just the House Dog topped with yuzu mayo and grilled shishito peppers, and it won’t seem so strange. They’re so tasty and fit so perfectly into the meal that all notions of what your sushi experience should be will go out the window.
3300 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406
There is only one hot dog: The Sonora Hot Dog. If you’re a fan of cilantro, the cilantro aioli that comes on this bacon-wrapped masterpiece will be one of the best things you’ve ever tasted. With chorizo, onion and tomato rounding it out, this dog is so full of flavor you’ll simply have to order a second one. Found on the happy hour menu, which takes place daily, it’s a one-of-a-kind gourmet hot dog that can’t be found anywhere else.
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Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.