Hot dog! This iconic food may have originated in Germany, but in North Carolina, we associate hot dogs with summertime. How you like your own dog may vary, but no matter how you like it, you always want a good dog.
A lot of southerners prefer their hot dogs with mustard, chili, and slaw. I asked my OutaboutNC community on social media to give me recommendations for places with the best hot dogs in the Triangle area. I got a lot of great responses, but to make this list, the destination had to have numerous recommendations from the community. Here are the top ten places to grab the best dogs in the Triangle area. Two recommendations may need to be a weekend road trip because they are located in Smithfield and Burlington.
Since 1940, this downtown Raleigh establishment has been serving Southern hot dogs. They are ninety percent beef with lean pork, cooked on the grill. When you dine here, you better not want fries, ketchup, relish, mayo, kraut, coffee, tea or chips. The restaurant does not have it. They believe ketchup does not belong on a hot dog and a dog is better served with a glass bottle of coke. Also, you better have cash. No credit or debit is allowed. Not much has changed here since 1940. Guess they know a good thing when they have it.
This take-out restaurant has half-off hot dogs every Tuesday, and you better expect a line during lunch, but it moves fast. There are four Raleigh locations and one location in Garner. Since 1978, Snoopy's has been serving up the "Carolina Dog" with mustard, chili, and onion on a steamed bun. That's how they will do your dog unless you tell them otherwise.
This private club on West Street in Raleigh serves just hot dogs, including a darn good veggie dog. To dine here, you have to pay a $1 permanent membership and you better want a hot dog because that is all they got. However, their dogs are a little more gourmet with condiments like bacon, beer onions, and hot sauce as choices.
For thirty years, this restaurant in Mission Valley Shopping Center Near NC State has been a favorite of students and locals. The "Coney Dog" is its specialty, served with chili, onions, and mustard on a steamed bun. Ask for "all the way" and you got a Dixie Dog that also includes slaw and ketchup. But for those kraut lovers, they can do it your way, too.
Have you ever been running errands at Sam's Club or perhaps Lowe's Home Improvement store and smelled some darn good hot dogs at an outdoor concession stand? Well, you may want to try it. Several people in the OutaboutNC community said the following, "I know it sounds crazy, but we have found the best hot dogs outside stores like Lowes at the Nathan's Hot Dog stand" You' re not crazy. You know a good dog when you taste it.
This Cary restaurant may have a burger in its name, but it knows how to do a hot dog, too. It believes Southern hot dogs are red. It offers a southern red dog on its menu, but it also has some other unique blends as well.
This soda fountain in downtown Cary is the place to be for a good, old-fashioned hot dog like yesteryear. Not much has changed since 1957 except more tables had to be added because they are that popular. It's a Cary staple where hot dogs are on special several times a week. They serve pork, beef, and veggie dogs. They'll add cheese to a dog, but ketchup is not a condiment they offer.
Since 1942, this is the place to get a hot dog in Durham, N.C. They have red dogs and 100 percent beef dogs with condiments of your choosing. They even have a corn dog.
Located in a yellow and white trailer on Market Street in Downtown Smithfield, Cricket's has been written up in magazines as a great roadside eatery. There are no tables or chairs, just a few picnic benches. It's known for serving up Johnston County's own Carolina Packers Bright Leaf Hot Dogs, which has been a Southern classic for nearly seventy years. The Bright Leaf dog is made with pork and beef, and according to them, the dogs have just three weight watcher points per dog so diets do not have to be blown. Guess those in Smithfield have that all figured out because no one wants to give up their dogs when watching your weight.
The only thing that has changed since 1928 at Zack's Hot Dogs in Burlington, NC is perhaps the prices and a different location. This restaurant is now third-generation owned and is known for its chili that it serves on the hot dogs. It is an original Greek recipe that founder Zack Touloupas made in 1928. Now his grandson, also named Zack Zouloupas, makes the same chili for customers eight-plus years later. The recipe is made by taste. You can get a hot dog with mustard, slaw, onions and the famous Zack's chili for $1.61.
Leigh is a North Carolina native who is a former TV journalist turned online storyteller/publisher. On her personal blog, Leigh gives her Southern spin on food, hotels, and life. Leigh is also the founder of the OutaboutNC social media community which helps market travel and tourism in North Carolina.