There is no joy on earth like the joy of biting into one of the best chili dogs ever cooked by humans.
Chili dogs are one of the crowning achievements of humanity, but not all dogs are created equal. As an Official Fat Panda and chili dog connoisseur, I’m opinionated in all matters of dogs and chili, and I’m here to tell you where to get the 10 best chili dogs you’ll ever eat.
Paunch’s Picks for the 9 Best Chili Dogs Ever
1: Bob’s Drive In in Le Mars, Iowa
This place is so good, they don’t even need a website. You can find them on Facebook, though.
Bob’s marketing is pretty much entirely public obsession – just take a look at their Facebook wall and check out how people are talking about them. In fact, their page isn’t even official – it’s 100% fan driven! That says something.
And it really is a drive in – you can order from your car and eat from one of those neat little clip-on trays.
Get a milkshake while you’re there. Trust me.
2: Cheffini’s Hot Dogs in Las Vegas, Nevada
It started as a gourmet hot dog cart downtown, and graduated into a shipping container (no, really) when Downtown Container Park was completed.
While Cheffini’s doesn’t technically have a chili dog, the Panchero (topped with grilled chorizo sausage, caramelized onions, red bell pepper aioli, and chimichurri) has a similar and equally delicious effect. After all, who had the idea to top a sausage with sausage?!
We’re counting the luscious combination of aioli, sausage, onions, and chimichurri as an honorary “chili” because it’s just that damn good.
Don’t be a dog snob. Just eat some delicious dogs and be happy.
3: Pink’s Hot Dogs in Los Angeles, California
Pink’s Hollywood Hot Dogs are famous for a reason, and it’s not just good marketing.
Though the celebrity endorsements probably have a lot to do with it.
The menu has at least 5 chili dog varieties for your gluttonous pleasure, not counting the special items like chili tamales and burrito dogs, and if you’ve got the chops for it, you should try them all.
If you aren’t into competitive eating, though, you have to try a 3 dog night at the very least. It’s a glorious monument to chili dogs everywhere, and you can’t get anything like it elsewhere.
Of course, you could always be boring and opt for a plain old hamburger.
It’s a free country, so you’re allowed to make bad choices.
4: Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, DC
What do you do when you’re in DC at 1 AM and you’re hankering for a dog?
You take the metro to Ben’s Chili Bowl. That’s what.
It’s the U Street stop, for future reference.
We can’t help but wonder if they’re going to change the name of their Bill Cosby Original, what with the implications of ingesting anything with Cosby’s name on it these days…but regardless of their naming conventions, the chili dogs are a must-munch.
There’s also a “healthy options” menu you can order from.
Again, you’re allowed to be wrong.
Oh, and you can actually get the chili in a bowl, thus the name. Cool, right?
5: Gray’s Papaya in New York, New York
Gray’s Papaya is an American staple. Movies have been filmed there. Celebrities have eaten there. And they make darn good hot dogs.
If you ever see a list of the best dogs in the country and there are no places from NYC on that list, you should consider the information highly suspect.
Back in the day, chili wasn’t an option at Gray’s Papaya.
And, to be fair, the chili they use now is canned and average at best.
But the hot dogs are killer, and also culturally significant, so I’m including it on the list because sometimes mediocre chili can still make for a great chili dog.
By the way, the papaya isn’t in the dog – it’s in the juice.
6: Crif Dogs in New York, New York
Now that we’ve gotten the classic New York street dog out of the way, it’s time to discuss another style of NYC dining.
Crif Dogs is the hot dog experience you want when you’re looking for the whole package – style, flavor, a little snark, and some butt kicking chili in your beard.
Their website is delightfully terrible in the best possible way, and it captures the personality of the place with stunning accuracy.
There’s an arcade on site, and there used to be a speakeasy back when those things were in style again, but not when alcohol was illegal…at least, as far as we know, there wasn’t an actual speakeasy, but we could be totally wrong about that.
Just go get a chili dog. Don’t worry about the history.
7: Superdawg Drive In in Chicago, Illinois
If you’re into that cool retro atmosphere, Superdawg is your place.
If you don’t care half an ounce about atmosphere and you just want to stuff your face with sausagey goodness, Superdawg is also your place.
But here’s the thing:
They have chili.
And they have dogs.
But they don’t have a “chili dog” on the menu.
Both the chili and the dogs are excellent, and if you’re creative, you’ll figure out what to do about this conundrum.
While you’re there, get a Supersoda. It’s necessary.
8: Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia
Maybe you’re not into NASCAR, and that’s okay.
It’s worth sitting through a race to get access to Martinsville Speedway’s chili dogs.
A few years ago, the speedway changed sausage suppliers (that’s not an innuendo…this time) and fans nearly rioted. There was an outrage. There was a media kerfuffle. There were some seriously hurt feelings.
Luckily, the chili dogs are still some of the best in the country, so all is well in the world of NASCAR.
Oh, and unlike ballpark hotdogs that might prompt you to take out a second mortgage, at the time of this writing, Martinsville Speedway’s chili dogs are still only $2.
Are you a race fan now?
9: Coney Island Lunch in Scranton, PA
Coney Island Lunch is so famous for their original Texas Weiners that their website is actually www.Texas-Weiners.com instead of their actual name.
This is a chili dog like no other. It’s very sandwich-y, and stuffed with beefy goodness.
There are plenty of copycats in the area, and some of them might even be good, but after 90 years of practice, Coney Island Lunch kind of has this Texas Weiner thing down.
Sports fans, be sure to check out the Baseball Special before you go.