Some like them grilled in the back yard. Some like them boiled in a pot of water. Some like to buy them for 10 cents apiece at Columbus Clippers games.
But if the arrival of hot dog season gives you a craving for something out of the ordinary, numerous central Ohio restaurants serve what you want.
The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council reports that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans typically consume 7 billion hot dogs, or 818 frankfurters every second – so make one of yours a Columbus original.
The main seller at Village Coney, located in Schumacher Place near German Village, is its eponymous offering, says manager Nick Martensen.
The Village Coney is made with homemade coney sauce, mustard and onions – added cheese and coleslaw optional.
“Our homemade Coney sauce and coleslaw really define it as ours,” Martensen says. “It’s really not a sweet chili like Skyline. … I would recommend fully loaded with cheese and coleslaw.”
Other options at Village Coney include the Cleveland Dog, a Polish sausage topped with fries, barbecue sauce and coleslaw; the Spicy Smoked Sausage, served with sautéed onions and green peppers and stadium mustard; and the Italian Sausage, made with homemade marinara sauce, sautéed onions and melted mozzarella cheese.
“Our specialties are our dogs,” Martensen says. “You really can’t make a bad decision.”
Acme Hot Dog & Sausage Company
With more than 25 different varieties of hot dogs and sausages, the Acme Hot Dog & Sausage Company in north Columbus certainly lives up to its name.
“Outside of Christmas and Easter, the best meals I could always remember involved summertime food,” says owner Mark Weilbacher. “That’s what we do.”
One of the most popular hot dogs at Acme, Weilbacher says, is the Andy’s Border Dog: a grilled dog wrapped in a tortilla shell; fried with pepperjack cheese, tomatoes, onion and jalapenos; and served with spicy sour cream.
Other offerings include the Acme Chicago Style Dog, served with yellow mustard, onions, cucumbers, sweet relish, dill pickle, tomatoes, sport peppers (small green hot peppers) and celery salt on a poppy seed bun; the Bull Dog, a quarter-pound dog with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos and brown spicy mustard; the Hong Kong Phooey, a grilled dog served with Asia Chili Pepper Sauce; and the Swanky Franky, a deep-fried dog wrapped in bacon and American cheese.
“We sell those like Frisbees,” Weilbacher says of the Swanky Franky.
When he was looking into opening his own restaurant a couple of years ago, Hot Dawgs! owner Ken Jewell just stumbled on the idea for a hot dog eatery.
“I started researching, and I just couldn’t believe what was out there with hot dogs,” Jewell says.
The menu at Grove City-based Hot Dawgs! boasts more than 10 types of hot dogs, brats and sausages.
“I prefer a beef and pork dog,” Jewell says.
There’s the Hot-Lanta, with chili sauce, coleslaw and yellow mustard; the Big Apple, with sauerkraut, chopped onions and yellow mustard; the Tex-Mex, with chili sauce, nacho cheese, salsa and jalapeno peppers; the Greyhound, with chili sauce, chopped onions and yellow mustard; and the Dawg Pound, a one-pound custom hot dog.
Hot Dawgs! also offers the Three-Dawg Nightmare Challenge: three Dawg Pounds in a single sitting.
“So far, we’ve had two people conquer it,” Jewell says.
Marino’s Franks in Dublin did not begin life as a hot dog vendor. Founded by Stella Lawrence, whose maiden name is Marino, it began as Marino’s Variety Shop, primarily selling candy and lottery tickets. But the hot dogs turned out to be the hottest seller.
In addition to regular hot dogs, served on grilled or steamed buns with options for coleslaw and sauerkraut, Marino’s also offers a Coney Island Dog topped with mustard, onions, cheese and chili made from a family recipe.
There is also sausage on the menu, including Italian sausage and bratwurst, as well as the Frank Marino, a sweet Italian sausage named for Lawrence’s father that comes with homemade marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese on a 6-inch garlic toasted bun.
Two Mad Dogs
At Two Mad Dogs in Powell, the hot dogs are one-quarter pound Hebrew Nationals, and while there are turkey and vegetarian options, customers won’t find any pork in their dogs.
“It’s hard to find restaurants that don’t have any pork,” says A.J. Hazen, whose family owns the restaurant.
Favorites at Two Mad Dogs include the Chicagoan, which has chopped onions, two tomato wedges, yellow mustard, sport peppers, pickle spear, a dash of celery salt and neon green relish flown in from Chicago, all on a poppy seed bun; the Chili Lover, chili with beans, cheddar, chopped onions and spicy brown mustard; and the New Yorker, an authentic New York style topped with spicy brown mustard, sauerkraut and an onion sauce made fresh every day.
“It’s got just a little bit of heat to it,” Hazen says of the onion sauce.
Two Mad Dogs is also home to the Mad Dog Challenge. In less than 30 minutes, a challenger must polish off the Woody, a one-pound hot dog on a 24-inch bun with chili and five toppings as well as one pound of nacho cheese-covered fries, two whole Kosher pickles, 24 ounces of soft serve ice cream and 32 ounces of a fountain drink of choice. Winners get a “I TKO’D the Woody” T-shirt and their picture on the contest wall.
Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace
You can’t talk about gourmet hot dogs in Columbus without mentioning Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace.
Dirty Frank’s, located in downtown Columbus, is one of the biggest names in Columbus frankfurter options with a menu offering at least 30 different types of hot dogs with names like the Seoul Dog (kim chee, mayonnaise and sriracha drizzle) and Puff the Magic Popper (cheddar cream cheese, jalapeno peppers and bacon bits).
But Dirty Frank’s offers more than just franks. The Cincinnati Four-Way is spaghetti topped with Coney sauce, cheddar, onions, a jalapeno and a drizzle of Sriracha sauce. Add baked beans, and you have the Cincinnati Five-Way. Other items include the Chili Mac, mac and cheese blended with Coney sauce and topped with onions; and funnel fries dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Mark Dubovec is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.