O.C.’s Best: Haute Dogs

Hey, didn’t these used to be humble street food?

No longer a simple sausage in a bun with ketchup and mustard, the modest hot dog now gets the gourmet treatment. From a wild assortment of meats and breads to creative and unexpected toppings, these newfangled wieners are anything but boring. Here are seven great Orange County spots to try the updated classic.

1 Dog Haus
One of the fastest growing hot dog chains in the country, its tricked-out toppings and winsome flavors set its menu apart from the rest. The best-selling Sooo Cali features an all-beef skinless frank crowned with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado, and tomato—it’s like eating a BLT sandwich, but better. Das Brat is another savory standout: bratwurst tucked in perfectly toasted King’s Hawaiian buns with whole-grain mustard aioli, sauerkraut, and white American cheese. $6 to $7. 2555 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, 714-213-8265; 2800 N. Main St., Santa Ana, 714-953-4287, doghaus.com

2 Pie Dog
It’s pretty much sausage nirvana here. We love everything, from the fluffy potato buns made fresh daily by O.C. Baking Company to the variety of sausages ground in-house, and the unique, house-made sauces. The Paq-Man, named after boxer Manny Pacquiao, is a flavorful knockout, with longanisa, a Filipino pork link that bursts with juicy sweetness and is topped with sauteed peppers; get a side of the tangy barbecue sauce (made with Mexican Coke) to go with it. The spicy Italian sausage is fittingly dubbed (albeit mispelled) the Monica Belluci. It has just the right amount of kick that can be further tempered with the house-made ketchup. Wash it down with a rotating selection of great craft beers. $8. 229 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, 714-681-1298, piedogs.com

3 Burntzilla
What’s not to love about the Japanese-inspired hot dogs from one of O.C.’s most popular food-trucks-turned-brick-and-mortar? Better still, they’re now in adorable miniature form so you can try several in one sitting. Don’t miss the Dogzilla, an all-beef frank with grilled onions, avocado, Japanese mayo, house-made teriyaki sauce, furikake (a Japanese seaweed-and-sesame seasoning), and bacon bits, all in a King’s Hawaiian roll. It’s an irresistible mix of creamy, salty, and sweet—full of flavor. For something a bit more unconventional, try the Yaki Dog, a spicy Cajun pork link topped with a tangle of yakisoba noodles, okonomi sauce (a Japanese sauce made with Worcestershire and ketchup), seaweed, and bits of red ginger. $3. 14413 Culver Drive, Irvine, 949-392-5995, burntzilla.com

4 Wursthaus
This European-style beer hall boasts handcrafted sausages, 20 German and Belgian beers on tap, and a closing time as late as 2 a.m. during the week (3 a.m. on weekends). Choose from 21 kinds of sausages, from classic brats to gourmet and exotic links. The Smoked Cheddar IPA bratwurst possesses a great snap with each bite, and you can really taste the notes of beer. You can get it on a traditional bun, but we recommend the soft pretzel option. The restaurant classifies the Duck & Bacon with jalapeno sausage as exotic, but it tastes plenty familiar—juicy and packed with flavor. $7 to $9. 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, 714-760-4333, wursthausdtsa.com

5 The Viking Truck
You’ll need a hefty appetite to tackle the near football-sized creations from this food truck. The Odin is a smoked bratwurst buried under a mountain of bacon, smoked cheddar, red cabbage, and sauerkraut. There’s a lot going on, but it works—the brat, which comes from Mattern Sausage & Meats in Orange, has a terrific snap. Want something with more bite? Order the Loki, a hot Polish sausage with roasted jalapenos and red peppers. If that’s not enough, there’s the Broadsword, a whopping half-pound, foot-long Hungarian sausage. You’re going to need extra napkins. $8 to $11. Various stops throughout Orange County, thevikingtruck.com

6 Hula Dog
There are a couple of big differences you’ll notice right off the bat about these Hawaiian-style hot dogs. The buns, which are baked in-house and toasted, completely encircle the polish sausage or veggie dog. And the way to eat a Hula Dog is by holding it vertically, not horizontally. The relishes are house-made with tropical fruits, such as mango and pineapple, and the mustards are made here, too, with guava and passion fruit. This is a tangy, savory, and unique take on the classic hot dog. Be sure to try the lavender-hued Taro Bacon bun. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a fresh-squeezed guava or strawberry lemonade. $7. 2233 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, 949-220-7094, huladogsocal.com

7 Linx
If you’re looking for a flavor bomb, get the BBQ, Bacon & Blues Dog, with smoked cheddar bratwurst, bacon marmalade, blue cheese-bacon aioli, crispy onions, and drizzles of honey barbecue sauce and honey mustard, all barely contained in a fluffy potato roll. The TJ Street Dog is another solid bet, with a spicy polish dog, applewood smoked bacon, chorizo mayo, avocado, cilantro, and giardiniera relish—it packs some legitimate heat. If that’s not enough to fill you, order the crisp and nicely seasoned Belgian frites. Grab your dogs and sit outside on the patio. $6.25 to $7. 238 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, 714-744-3647, linxdogs.com


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