See Chicago wieners (and others) on IgoUgo list

Chicago makes several appearances on IgoUgo’s list of top hotdog establishments, but there are plenty of spots across the country where you can pick up a great hotdog. My favorite apparently made the cut – a shortcoming of the list, I guess. For me, it doesn’t get better than Popo’s, in Swampscott, MA, and my local shop, Gray’s Papaya, is no slouch, either.

And, don’t forget that there are some dogs to be found outside the United States. I’ve had interesting eats in Stockholm, Montreal, East Anglia, Reykjavik and Madrid. That said, IgoUgo‘s honor roll is packed with fantastic hotdoggeries, and you’re bound to find something that satisfies the basest of “culinary” urges.

Get IgoUgo’s suggestions and reasoning after the jump.


From IgoUgo:

Portillo’s, Chicago: “The hot dogs are all beef and are definitely the best in town. The cup of hot gold might not be real cheese, but darn, it’s good.”

Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island: “Sure, you can get their hot dogs at airports and malls throughout the country now, but they taste different in New York.”

Pink’s, Los Angeles: “Who knew you can fit two hot dogs in one bun (The Today Show Dog)? There’s even a crazy option with three hot dogs in a tortilla (Three Dog Night).”

Puka Dog, Koloa, HI: Located in a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shopping center,” Puka Dog’s homemade buns are spiked and warmed from the inside out before the bun is filled with a secret garlic-lemon sauce and topped with a veggie dog or a polish sausage – and star fruit, mango, or papaya relish.

Hot Doug’s, Inc., Chicago: “Not only do they have the classic Chicago-style dog but they also have the Elvis (with Polish sausage) and the occasional game”-try the alligator dog with blue cheese and order the duck-fat fries.

The Dog Out,San Ramon, CA: When walking into the Dog Out, the feeling is “it is going to be a fun meal.” Keep an eye out as sometimes the manager comes around with free ice cream for everyone.

The Wiener’s Circle, Chicago: There is not a Chicago-style hot dog like those “at The Wiener’s Circle (after midnight).” This place is one of character, “famous for people yelling and swearing at each other before they take part in the monstrosity that is cheese fries.”

Wright’s Dairy Rite, Staunton, VA: Open since 1952, this classic drive-in restaurant has had car-hop service since its inception. Inside, there’s a phone at every booth to call in your order. “The dogs come in regular size and Dogzilla, a 1/3-pound dog served on a sub bun.”

Chris’ Hot Dogs, Montgomery, AL: “Chris’ Hot Dogs is a dive, but everybody knows it was one of Hank Williams’ hangouts.” The place is dark, dingy, and kind of seedy, but the hot dogs are great. Regulars range from “construction workers to the governor.”

SuperDog, Portland: SuperDog prides itself on its natural and homemade goodies like “all-meat chili, soup, and cheesecake…yes, cheesecake.” The hot dogs are “the best,” the buns are “out of this world,” and, if you’re lucky, the beer on tap is “SuperDog IPA.”

The Mermaid Parade at Coney Island

There are certain events that are purely connected to the place where they are held. The Mermaid Parade at Coney Island in Brooklyn is one of them. Tomorrow, June 20 starting at 2 p.m. is the big event. Since 1983, people have been dressing up in over the top creative costumes– mermaid related or not, to join in on one of the largest art parades in the United States. There are floats, bands and generally a whole lot of join-in-the-fun sea-themed hoopla.

People who come to the parade as spectators could just as well join in; it’s that kind of event. The idea is to be creative in a celebration of the artistic and summer. The parade is held the first Saturday after the summer solstice. In effect, hooray for summer, the mermaids are here. Come dressed as a creature of the sea or a mermaid and join in.

Don’t know what to wear? Here’s an idea. Get a baseball hat and glue natural sponges on it. Or go as a coral “wreath” by getting coral from a pet store and hot glue gun it to a wreath form that goes around your head like a crown.

According to the Mermaid Parade Web site, the parade is family friendly, kids are even in the parade. This year the parade route has changed slightly. For details, click here. The viewing stand is still in the same location.

Undiscovered New York: All the way to Coney Island

Coney Island is New York City’s very own magical land of Oz. Just about everyone has heard about it – a derelict Brooklyn resort and amusement park stacked with ramshackle rides, Nathan’s hot dogs, sashaying mermaids and Vaudevillian freak shows – a seaside Gomorrah of fading glories and sandy cigarette butts. It is a place that is at once alluring and repulsive…drawing you in with its mysterious and nostalgic charms but never leaving you fully satisfied with what you’ve seen.

Unless you live in New York, there’s a good chance you’ve never made the trip out to the very last stop in Brooklyn at Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue. There’s a good reason why – Coney Island tends to be a polarizing place to visit. Some people hate it – stacked with second rate fried clam shops, indigestion and bad carnival rides. Other people visit and can’t get enough – it’s an area steeped in quirky history, unique stories and amusement park nostalgia. Love it or hate it, word has it that Coney Island, a seaside resort that has persisted since the 1860’s, may be on its last legs. The property was purchased in 2006 and the developers have plans to turn the area into a giant Vegas-style shopping mall.

If there was ever a time to go and visit one of New York’s more offbeat attractions, this would be that time. While each year has brought another 11th-hour reprieve, the strange sights of Coney Island are not destined to last forever. Where else can you gawk at contortionists and sword swallowers at one of the country’s last remaining circus sideshows? Or get tossed around on a rickety old roller coaster? Or eat some of New York’s best pizza? Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, Undiscovered New York is going all the way to Coney Island…
Getting Freaky
Coney Island is among the last places in the U.S. to see a real circus sideshow, complete with a man who hammers spikes into his skull, a fire and glass eater, and a snake charmer and contortionist, among others. It’s a bizarre show that somehow manages to be strangely beautiful in its oddity. Entrance fee is $7.50 for adults and just $5 for children.

Perhaps though you’re not satisfied just looking at circus curiosities? Perhaps you would actually like to try swallowing a sword or two yourself? Never fear, the Coney Island Sideshow School is here to help. Sideshow “professors” Donny Vomit and Adam Rinn teach eager students the fundamentals of fire eating, glass walking and “sticking foreign objects up their noses.” Grab your preferred foreign object and $600 and sign yourself up today.

Old-School Amusements
If old wooden roller coasters are your thing, consider the Coney Island Cyclone to be the grand dame of them all. It’s by no means a large coaster – in fact it’s dwarfed in size by wooden giants like The Beast or American Eagle, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up in sheer exhilarating surprise. The tiny coaster cars creak and groan, whipping around hairpin turns and threatening to splinter and shatter apart at any moment. If you have no other reason to come to Coney Island, this alone will make a trip worthwhile.

The other great amusement worth noting is Coney Island’s iconic Wonder Wheel. The wheel has become something of a celebrity having appeared in a number of movies and commercials, including The Warriors, First constructed in 1920, the iron giant has managed to weather more than 80 years of harsh New York weather, coming through with a perfect safety record.

Classic Charm
Clearly if you’re still reading by now, you’re interested in coming to Coney Island not for its modern conveniences, but instead for its creaky, dilapidated old glories. There’s a couple key spots for drinking and for relaxing that truly bring this point home.

Boardwalk regulars like to stop by Cha Cha’s, one of the many al fresco restaurants dishing up drinks and fried foods along Coney Island’s fabled boardwalk. But unlike the others, which can seem a bit mediocre, Cha Cha’s boasts its own stripper pole, neon day-glo murals of Coney Island and a collection of old junk that would make any landfill proud. Just the spot to down a few fried shrimp or a frozen margarita.

If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, then dust off those old roller skates. It’s time for an retro roller disco party at Dreamland Roller Rink. The rink makes its temporary home inside the majestic 1920’s era Childs Building, where skaters of all ages can come on Friday nights, gliding along to retro funk and soul music. The club will be reopening for the 2009 summer season on May 23rd.

[Thanks, Kendra]

Photo of the Day (09.20.08)

Today’s photo comes from Rubys Host, taken just at sunset on Coney Island. I love how the sun is framed right between the two people walking down the boardwalk. Kind of makes you want to go on an evening roller coaster ride doesn’t it?

To have your shot considered for Photo of the Day, submit it here.

Photo of the Day (7/25/07)

There’s no guessing what kind of prizes are available here if you win this carnival game. How big is the prize you ask anyway? It’s big… It’s a “BIG ASS PRIZE.” This game vendor was captured at Coney Island in New York by shadixpn during Memorial Day weekend when I’m sure the place was crawling with children and kid-at-heart adult types looking to win a big stuffed toy.