He Said / She Said: Dennis and Emily get the goods on St. Louis’ best bites between the bun

Most of us grew up on hot dogs. Nowadays we may equate them with junk food, but as kids, hot dogs were the best: perfect after a long day in the pool, ideal after school and maybe even for breakfast on the sly.

D: Hot dogs were the first food I learned to barbecue, often scorching them so thoroughly that only black remained on the outside.

E: They were the first food I remember microwaving.

D: In high school, we cooked them in the rocky area beyond left field at Heine Meine Field in Lemay, watching our friends play baseball on the field below. In college, any one of the dozen or so Heavenly Hot Dog carts was the last stop on the walk home from … wherever.

Dennis’ hot-dog profile: Loaded with basically anything that will make my breath stank.

Emily’s hot-dog profile: I prefer mine poolside, topped with ketchup.

Busch Stadium
Clark Street and Broadway, St. Louis 314.345.9000 for tickets | Visit www.stlcardinals.com for game times

E: The new Busch Stadium boasts everything from veggie burgers to hot wings and Italian to Mexican cuisine, but a day at the ballpark isn’t complete without the standard dog. We bought our first ones from a Gashouse Grill and, with all the changes in the new park, they were a refreshingly familiar sight.

D: My strategy at the old stadium was to get a couple of the regular-sized hot dogs from a stand and load them up with mustard and relish, completely eschewing the carts and their jumbo dogs. Not anymore. It tasted as if the regular hot-dog inventory from last year was kept in the Public Storage on Third Street during the offseason. They were less than palatable.

E: I didn’t notice any difference once it was slathered in ketchup.

D: Oh, and yeah, for Chrissake, do not order french fries at any of the Gashouse Grills! I know they sound like a good idea, but they are putrid. New stadium, new strategy: Go for the carts serving jumbo dogs cooked where you can see them. Load them up with the caramelized onions, sauerkraut and mustard and actually enjoy the dog as much as the view of the skyline.

Woofies Hotdogs
1919 Woodson Road, Overland | 314.426.6291
Mon. to Sat. – 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m, drive-thru open till 8 p.m.

D: For a brief time in my life I lived in Chicago, where I grew enamored with a swath of heaven on North Clark Street that served up great Chicago dogs. I’m not talking about Wrigley Field, mind you, but rather Wieners Circle.

When I came back to St. Louis, I tried everything that claimed to be a Chicago dog, but invariably something was off. The pickle spear was missing, there was no tomato wedge or hot pepper, or – the most heinous crime of all – there was ketchup on it! Finally, I stumbled across Woofies, where they simply nailed it, right down to the neon-green pickle relish.

E: I have great respect for the Chicago dog, but that relish does sort of freak me out. Plus, there was something else on the menu I couldn’t resist. I have a secret passion for Fritos. I am careful to avoid the chip aisle in grocery stores and tiptoe around snack-sized bags at sandwich shops, but once I know an open bag is somewhere near, I can’t say no.

This means, of course, that I opted for Woofies’ chili pie: Fritos and a hot dog smothered with chili, melted cheese, onion and a pickle (served with a handy spork). But no matter what your buds crave – from a Coney dog to a Fire dog –
Woofies has got you covered.

Dirty Dogs
Home Depot entrance, 390 THF Blvd., Chesterfield | 314.550.1061
Mon. to Sun. – 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Hours may vary)

E: Many Home Depots across town boast individually owned hot-dog stands, but the one in Chesterfield Valley is worthy of a trip even if there aren’t any home improvements in your future.

D: Why? That answer was simple: great sauerkraut, very good dog but excellent Polish sausage, a gazillion kinds of mustard and, as I would discover later, pepperbellies. Oh, sweet Christopher, pepperbellies! Imagine chili that’s hot in temperature and spice …

E: … poured into a snack-sized bag of lightly mashed Fritos! …

D: … then topped with jalapeños, onions and cheese. I know some of you out there are drooling, and I don’t blame you, they were as good as you think, probably better.

900 N. First St., St. Louis | 314.241.5915
Daily – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Drinks served until 3 a.m.)

E: Hot dogs are summer food, meant to be grilled outside while relaxing near a body of water. But if you’re craving a hefty pup when a trip to the lake or a barbecue by the pool isn’t on your agenda, then a dog on Sundecker’s patio overlooking the mighty Mississippi may be just the trick to transform your lunch break into a mini-vacation.

D: “Cheese on everything, Betty!” I found myself nearly shouting when my Decker Dog was set in front of me. Betty (it seems anyway) has worked the 4 a.m. shift at Eat-Rite Diner since I was knee-high to a bumblebee, and this plate of chili and cheese masking lumpy goodness had to be a slinger, right? Nope, somewhere in there is a quarter-pound dog, bun and onions – lots of onions.

There is little one can do, even with silverware, to stay completely clean while eating this beast. My advice: Get the big cup of vodka and lemonade (this will more than take care of your worries about chili stains), sit on the deck, enjoy the sun and the view of majestic Eads Bridge, and pray a semi doesn’t careen off the MLK and land on that wonderful dog.