This is a question I get asked frequently and while taste is individual, there is no doubt that I get to taste the very best hotdogs when I serve my annual duty as a hotdog judge in Denmark. But what’s more interesting - where’s your best chances of getting a good chien chaud fix?
The Hotdogjudge hard at work at the Danish championships in 2011.
My Danish hotdog roots
In Denmark, where I’m from, there is a great hotdog tradition. As in many other countries our fastfood culture has been flooded by mediocre burgers, pizzas and kebabs - and that has meant an abrupt decline in Danish hotdog stands from the 1970s and until today. However, most of those the remaining hotdog stands serve some pretty good stuff, typically in the 4 out of 5 range - a rather high average.
A classic Danish hotdog with a boiled red wiener.
Ze German influence on hotdogs
Allegedly the original hotdog tradition comes from Germany, specifically Germans immigrants in the US. However, these days hotdogs in Germany are synonymous with some very cheap and crappy versions from IKEA’s cafeterias - the Germans have rather gone all in on the currywurst as the preferred local fastfood, meaning it’s hard to get good hotdogs there as my recent travels confirm - but they do have lots of great sausages!
The United States of Hotdogs
It’s hard to argue that the hotdog has remained more popular anywhere than in the US. And while you can get great hotdogs in America, I think the general level leaves a lot to desire. Your average stadium dog or Nathan’s is 2 out of 5 in my book - and often not worth eating (fatal, even), if it wasn’t for the traditions often surrounding these venues. However, a place like Chicago keeps a strong tradition for some great hotdogs and some of the street vendors in New York have some pretty good stuff too. So it’s definitely possible to get great hotdogs - typically you just have to go out of your way to get them.
Brilliant 5 out of 5 hotdogs from Wurstküche in Los Angeles.
Copenhagen is a hotdog hub
If you want to indulge in many hotdogs of a generally high level, I recommend you visit Copenhagen - and while you don’t have to spend a weekend like I did, you’ll get your dog cravings satisfied for sure. Other than John’s Hotdog Deli as one of the most popular hotdog stands in central Copenhagen, I can recommend visiting Andersen Bakery in Tivoli for some delish gourmet dogs or get a fresh organic take on hotdogs at DØP. If you venture into the suburbs of Copenhagen, another good hotdog destintion is Bjarnes Pølser in the Ballerup area.
Homemade hotdogs at a party in Copenhagen.
What’s your recommendation?
While I’ve tried hotdogs all over the planet - from boerewors rolls in Cape Town to a sausage in a rice sausage with kimchi on top in Taipei - I still have a couple of places on the to do list, including Los Angeles, Reykjavik. and Cozumel. But I know that there are many more great hotdogs out there, that I haven’t tried yet - so my question is: Which ones should go on my ‘must visit’ list?