Banish thoughts of dirty-water dogs with plain old mustard and relish when you come to these cheery eateries; set your sights instead on franks done up with mango-pineapple relish and jalapeños, or barbecue sauce and blue cheese. Owners Pamela Swanson and Lionel Holmes get endlessly creative with toppings, but they never seem to obscure the excellent foundational elements: crisp-skinned all-beef hot dogs (the same brand served at Fenway Park) and top-split buns painted in butter, then grilled. The Duck Duck Dog—an ode to Peking duck with hoisin, cucumbers, and slivered scallions—is fusion at its best, and just as memorable as the by-the-book Chicago dog, laden with grass-green relish and banana peppers.
Where you can get it: 610 Montgomery St., Alexandria, 703-548-3891; 609 E. Main St., Purcellville, 540-338-2439
Also good: Chili dog with onions; bánh mì dog, with Sriracha mayonnaise, jalapeños, and cilantro; mac and cheese; sweet-potato fries with chipotle mayo.