The hot dog is an icon of American cuisine, but it takes more than slapping a wiener on a bun to construct the perfect frank. Opinions on what makes the ideal dog are as jumbled as a jar of pickle relish, but here in the metro area we can sample the best of all worlds—as well as a few outstanding innovations that elevate the great dog debate at least a mile high.
The Spot Steve's Snappin' Dogs, 3525 E. Colfax Ave., 303-333-7627
The Signature Dog The Jersey Dog: A Thumann's beef-pork frank, served with spicy mustard, green relish, sauerkraut, red onions, and bacon.
Unique Appeal Steve's hallmark is the classic East Coast smoky beef-and-pork combo that "snaps" when you bite into it. Also try the Denver "Burrito" dog, wrapped in a flour tortilla with chile, peppers, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and bacon.
On the Side Don't miss the deep-fried, no-batter, low-carb green beans or carrot sticks, and wash everything down with fresh-squeezed lemonade or limeade.
The Spot Brasserie Ten Ten, 1011 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-998-1010
The Signature Dog The Brasserie Hot Dog: A foot-long, all-beef version topped with Mornay sauce, field greens, Gruyère, cornichon relish, two Dijons, and balsalmic vinegar.
Unique Appeal This isn't your average pick-it-up-by-the-bun-and-chow-down snack—use a knife and fork.
On the Side If you're really hungry order the shoestring fries, and select a nice French red from the wine list.
The Spot Mustard's Last Stand, 1719 Broadway, Boulder, 303-444-5841; 2081 S. University Blvd., 303-722-7936
The Signature Dog The Chicago Dog: From the Vienna beef frank right down to the poppy-seed bun, yellow mustard, and pickles, this is a classic.
Unique Appeal Close your eyes when you chomp down on this dog and you'll swear you're at Portillo's in the Windy City.
On the Side The fries alone are worth a visit to Mustard's Last Stand. And, if you're smart, you'll snag a jar of the horseradish mustard for home use on burgers and sandwiches.
The Spot Coors Field, 2001 Blake St.
The Signature Dog The Rocky Dog: A foot-long dressed up with grilled peppers and 'kraut—this is a Denver favorite.
Unique Appeal Truth is, hot dogs just taste better at the ballpark—even when the Rockies are losing.
On the Side Beer. For the under-age crowd, an icy Coke. Be sure to snag a bag of salty peanuts to round things out.
The Spot Coney Island, 10 Old Stagecoach Road, Bailey, 303-838-4210
The Signature Dog The Foot-Long Coney Dog: An all-beef wiener on a soft bun, smothered in beanless chili. Though mandatory for purists, diced onions and a ribbon of mustard are optional here.
Unique Appeal There's something to be said about buying a hot dog from a 42-foot-long, 14-ton, stucco-sided, um...hot dog. This national wiener landmark first appeared on West Colfax Avenue, spent 36 years in Aspen Park, and has now found a home in Bailey.
On the Side Real Coney dogs almost demand a deep-fried side—here the onion rings are the best bet. And while a tall Sprite from the soda fountain works fine, you should splurge on the old-fashioned chocolate malt.