Humble to Haute: Hot Dogs Get Fancy

With baseball season heating up, our thoughts turn to hot dogs. And while some might think you can’t improve the ballpark staple, several area chefs are trying to do just that. We’ll start at the humble end of the spectrum.

Photographs by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.

Chili dogs are $1.50 at the Vienna Inn.

Vienna Inn (120 Maple Ave. E., Vienna; 703-938-9548). It may not get as much press as other hot-dog joints like Ben’s Chili Bowl, but regulars flock here for cheap dogs loaded with mustard, onion, and chili ($1.50 each). Where else can you get three chili dogs and a beer for less than $10?


Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St., NW; 202-667-0909). Legendary for its celebrity clientele, Ben’s doesn’t disappoint when it comes to chili dogs and half-smokes ($3.60 to $4.95), the hot dog’s larger, spicier cousin. Each grilled dog comes with chips, but the best accompaniments are the perfectly crisp fries and a milkshake.


Johnny’s Half Shell (400 N. Capitol St., NW; 202-737-0400). Johnny’s can be both upscale and down-home. During lunch, diners can satisfy cravings for caviar and blinis but also for a hot dog, split and grilled, with fries ($8.75). Johnny’s does give it a twist with some highfalutin toppings, though: The more traditional sauerkraut can be replaced with garden vegetables or bleu cheese.



PS7’s $10 housemade hotdogs.

EatBar (2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-778-5051). The big beef hot dog ($8) is the brainchild of charcuterie impresario Nathan Anda, who left EatBar last year but stayed with the restaurant group to develop a butcher-shop concept. What pairs best with a house-made dog? House-made ketchup and mustard, with house-made pickles on request. Fries are à la carte.


PS 7’s (777 I St., NW; 202-742-8550). Peter Smith’s three mini-dogs ($11.50) couldn’t be fancier, stopping just shy of incorporating truffles. The beef dogs are house-made and served with pommes frites “scented with Danish smoked salt and Banyuls vinegar.” The classic frank is represented by a pair of Chicago dogs ($10 at lunch; on lounge menu all day) added for the inauguration. Served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard, they’re so popular that they might stick around through the administration.


This appeared in the April, 2009 issue of the Washingtonian.

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