Move Over, Cheeseburgers

Summer might be almost over, but hot dogs—a backyard-barbecue staple—are just starting to pop up all over the city.

Peppers and relish top Chicago-style dogs at Windy City Red Hots. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Shortly after moving to town, President Obama hit the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl on DC’s U Street for a half-smoke, the sausage that tastes like a hot dog on steroids. Soon after, he turned his lunchtime focus to burgers—after all, where was he going to find another good hot dog? Now the ballpark favorite is getting its due. In downtown DC, the saloon-like Madhatter, which hired chef Bobby Varua from 701, has a menu of terrific dogs. We like the classic mustard-relish combination but are surprisingly enamored of the more out-there pineapple-and-potato-chip variety. Windy City Red Hots, which started in an Ashburn street cart, is now also selling its Chicago-style hot dogs and Polish sausages from a storefront in Leesburg. And the owners of Matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin will continue their spread onto Capitol Hill with the soon-to-open DC-3 (423 Eighth St., SE), a takeout spot that will feature regional dogs, such as a Seattle-inspired cod dog, and will allow diners to create their own, whether deep-fried, wrapped in bacon, or topped with kimchee. And of course there’ll be a Chicago dog in a steamed poppyseed bun, which will perhaps attract a certain guy who sometimes visits nearby.

This article appears in the September 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.