Right about now, you'd probably love to bite into a hot dog, with its spurt of spicy, garlicky juices. But first, decisions must be made. It's no longer just about mustard, sauerkraut and relish. These days, dogs are going entirely off the leash. Consider such toppings as scrambled eggs and bacon. Cheddar, chili, beans and fried onions. Even pineapple and mozzarella. Chicago-style wieners -- with relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato, sport pepper, celery salt and mustard -- have become almost as commonplace on Long Island as they are in the Windy City. And you don't have to fly to Colombia, Chile or Peru to taste their national dogs.
In terms of size, you'll find cute little hot dog sliders, regular-size wieners and big boys weighing in at as much as a full pound.
Admittedly, a daily diet of dogs might not be wise, which is why it's somewhat comforting to know that many versions are made with sustainably raised antibiotic and hormone-free meat. So, if you're ready to embark on your quest for the frankly fabulous, check out what we've found after eating our way through way too many weiners.
Irving's World Famous Pastrami
Irving's World Famous Pastrami, Woodbury: The pastrami hot dog is topped with pastrami, Cheddar cheese and mustard, and served on a pretzel bun.
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint
Smokin' Al's Famous BBQ Joint, Massapequa Park: From chef-owner Al Horowitz comes Al's Famous Bow Wow, a half-pound all-beef dog that's grilled and topped with chili, baked beans, coleslaw and melted cheese before being showered with "haystack" fried onions and surrounded by first-rate hand-cut fries. A big fat success.
Charlie's Hot Dogs
Charlie's Hot Dogs, Islip Terrace: Charlie's Hot Dogs, a stand remembered as much for its savory, sweet-spicy onion topping as it is for the franks themselves, has reopened after a decadelong absence. Popular items at Charlie's are led by the two-or three- hot dog special served on Italian bread, for $7 and $8, respectively. The regular hot dog is $2; the hot dog with topping, $2.25. Chili, knishes, and soda also are available. The reborn Charlie's is located in the commercial parking lot at 16 Lowell Ave. It's open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's closed Sunday and Monday.
Los Andes, Patchogue: The Peruvian specialty known as salchipapas features sliced South American hot dogs served on a bed of fries. Other location in Deer Park.
Zan's Kosher Deli
Zan's Kosher Deli, Lake Grove: This kosher hot dog, a favorite with regulars, isn't listed on the menu. You can get it with mustard and/or sauerkraut. Classic and satisfying.
O'Hara's Ale House
O'Hara's Ale House, Port Washington: Creative chef Jonathan Chevlin just launched a line of big, bodacious belly-busters weighing in at a pound apiece. The Early Bird is piled with three scrambled eggs, Irish cheddar, Irish bacon and scallions. Other numbers include the Psycho, bacon-wrapped, deep fried and heaped with cheddar, beer-battered jalapenos and sour cream; the Sloppy Seconds, with BBQ pulled pork, nacho cheese sauce and BBQ sauce; and the Dirty Water Dog with sauerkraut, caramelized onions and mustard. You may want to tackle these with friends. And, perhaps, Rolaids.
Shake Shack, Garden City: At Danny Meyer's fast-food magnet, Vienna beef hot dogs, free of hormones, nitrates and antibiotics, are split and griddled up crisp. The Shack-cago dog is topped with relish, onion, cucumber, pickle, tomato, sport pepper, celery salt and mustard. There's also the Shack Meister dog, with a cheddar and American cheese sauce and fried ale-marinated shallots.
Pastrami Plus, East Meadow: Deli man Sal Gawish offers the Hush Puppy, a Hebrew National hot dog stuffed inside the eatery's first-rate, house-made potato knish.
North Fork Food Truck
North Fork Food Truck, Southold: Parked in the lot of the famed North Fork Table and Inn, this food truck affiliate serves up an all-natural Hartmann beef dog on a toasted Blue Duck Bakery roll. Get it with house-made dill pickle relish, apple-cider vinegar-glazed onion, house-made sauerkraut or pepper Jack cheese sauce. Take it to go or eat it right there, on a lawn chair.
BBD's -- Beers Burgers Desserts
BBD's -- Beers Burgers Desserts, Rocky Point: Chef-owner Ralph Perrazzo serves mini Chicago hot dog sliders featuring all the requisites: Vienna beef weiners topped with yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, onion, tomato, dill pickle, sport peppers, poppy seeds and celery salt.
Local Burger Co.
Local Burger Co., Bay Shore: This burger-centric newcomer serves up Coleman natural uncured beef dogs, presented plain and fancy. The 3 Little Piggies features a frank topped with pulled pork, bacon and slaw. You can also get a chili cheese dog and a dog with the works -- mustard, relish, onions, tomato, banana peppers, pickles and celery salt.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries
Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Multiple locations: A split and griddled Hebrew National all-beef frankfurter is available with bacon, cheese and any number of free toppings, like BBQ sauce, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms.
American Roadside Burger
American Roadside Burger, Smithtown: You start with an all-beef kosher hot dog that's split and grilled, and then choose your toppings. Freebies include lettuce, tomato, pickles, chopped onion, red onions, grilled onions, grilled jalapeno and coleslaw. For an extra charge, you can add cheese, bacon and even an egg. You can also go for a set number, like the chili cheese dog or New York dog with spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut.
Sapsuckers Hops & Grub
Sapsuckers Hops and Grub, Huntington: The all-beef, all-natural Decadent Dog featured at this cacophonous gastropub comes on a pretzel bun and has melted cheese, red onions and mustard on top.
La Fonda Latino Grill
La Fonda Latino Grill, Ronkonkoma: Colombian hot dogs are plump, intriguingly spiced and all-beef. They're available in nine ornate versions, among them the Salchipollo, with its topping of chicken, mozzarella, chips and the restaurant's combination of sauces: mustard, ketchup, pink mayonnaise sauce and pineapple sauce; the Hawayano, featuring bacon, pineapple, mozzarella, potato chips and sauces, and the Mixto, with Colombian sausage, bacon, chicken, mozzarella, chips and sauces.
Nathan's Famous, multiple locations: Justifiably famous, this all-beef hot dog was born on Coney Island and has made its way around the nation -- Alaska and Hawaii included. Get yours with just a squiggle of mustard or with bacon, chili and/or cheese. You can even get a deep-fried, cornmeal-battered corn dog on a stick.