Dressed Up Dogs

You’ve boiled ‘em, broiled ‘em and barbecued ‘em till their skin is charred and crackled. But have you ever had a hot dog with ghost peppers? How about pickled carrots? Forget measly ol’ mustard; hot dogs have taken a turn for the better as local chefs tuck just about anything you can think of inside that bun. Ignore everything you thought you knew about everyone’s favorite mystery meat. Then, go and try these five stellar versions. We double-dog dare you.

Hot Aztec Dog
Hot Aztec food truck, hotaztec.com,
Twitter: @HotAztec

The Hot Aztec Dog is hot fire. A bacon-wrapped dog gets swaddled in hot az sauce (It’s spiked with ghost peppers … yeah, it’s spicy.), dressed up with grilled onions and Chihuahua cheese, and crowned with a generous handful of shredded pork. With layers of heat, textures and flavors, this dog packs a one-two punch that’s south-of-the-border hot.

Triple Dog Dare You
BBQ ASAP, 15581 Manchester Road, Ballwin, 636.256.1908, bbqasap.com

We’ve had a chili-cheese dog before, but a chili-mac-and-cheese dog? This was a first. For The Triple Dog Dare You, smoky, spicy chili is the base for a massive quarter-pound dog. Seasoned cheesy macaroni provides heart-stopping guilty pleasure, while dots of pickled jalapeños add a zing of heat. Crisped, crumbled bacon sprinkled on top makes this chili cheese dog one for the books – and the scales.

Banh Mi Dog
Half & Half, 8135 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314.725.0719, halfandhalfstl.com

The Banh Mi Dog tucks the fresh flavors of this classic Vietnamese street food inside a hot-dog bun for a flurry of tastes and textures. The frank, with its casing browned, sits nestled inside a poppy-seed bun. That bun’s been buttered, toasted and slathered with garlic aioli, by the way. (Nice touch.) But it’s the pickled carrots and jalapeños, wedges of fresh cucumber and piquant cilantro that steal the show, adding a refreshing burst of tang to this typically salty dog.

Monte Christo Double Dog
Iron Barley, 5510 Virginia Ave., St. Louis, 314.351.4500, ironbarley.com

What makes the Monte Christo Double Dog isn’t the two half-pound hot dogs that get split down the middle and then griddled to charred, buttery perfection; it’s the sweet strawberry jam slathered on the toasted bun underneath them. Fruity and sticky, salty and smoky, a spectrum of flavors gets rounded out by a blanket of molten Swiss. Our advice? Chow down with a fork and knife.

Backyard BBQ Dog
Steve’s Hot Dogs on The Hill, 2131 Marconi Ave.,
St. Louis, 314.762.9899, steveshotdogsstl.com

Only one hot dog (that we’ve had at least) tucks all our barbecuing memories into a bun for a meal so nostalgic, it practically has us asking Dad if he’ll grill us up seconds. For the Backyard BBQ Dog, one of Nathan’s Famous gets smoked and then doused with tangy baked beans and sticky-sweet barbecue sauce. Chewy, fatty bits of bacon make everything better. But no barbecue is complete without potato salad. The taters get chopped, tossed with mayo, seasoned just right and then folded right into the bun. One bite and you’ll hear Mom screaming, “No running by the pool!”