Fort Lauderdale food truck Jersey Dawg is the only place of its kind to serve authentic rippers in South Florida.
Fort Lauderdale food truck Jersey Dawg is the only place of its kind to serve authentic rippers in South Florida.
Courtesy of Jersey Dawg

Ten Best Hot Dog Spots in Broward and Palm Beach Counties

The hot dog — AKA frankfurter, frank, weenie, wiener, dog, or red hot — is an American summertime staple. The one food that's almost more American than hamburgers and French fries, a hot dog is a slim sausage made of beef and pork (or all beef) that's cooked up and topped off so many different ways, there seems to be a signature dog for every city across the country — and a few other countries besides. 

According to a handy Food Republic info chart, there are indeed plenty of dogs out there: around 40 different ways people around the world chow down, hot dog style. From the Philippines' bright-red dog served bunless with rice, a fried egg, and banana ketchup to Sweden, where they serve their dogs wrapped in a roll of mashed potatoes, shrimp salad, and fried onions, the options are endless. And while those dogs might seem a little extreme, a more Americanized variety can be found right here in South Florida.

July is National Hot Dog Month, and according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans will consume a record number of these infamous tubes of meat before summer comes to an end: about 7 billion between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

So there' s no better time to go out there and try all that doggone goodness Broward and Palm Beach counties have to offer.

Ten Best Hot Dog Spots in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
Courtesy of Los Verdes

10. Los Verdes
4491 N. University Dr., Lauderhill; 954-306-3014; losverdes.com.
If you've heard whispers of a hot dog so enormous — and with such a rainbow of toppings — you might not be able to finish it in one sitting, you're probably thinking of Venezuelan and Colombian-style perros, both of which you can find in abundance in South Florida. Some of the best are served in Palm Beach County at Perrada del Gordo, where the West Palm Beach and Boca Raton restaurants pump out hundreds daily. But Browardites might want to try Los Verdes in Lauderhill, a new-age Latin American joint hidden deep in the city's suburban sprawl in an area best known for its vast array of cultural fare. The hot dogs it serves are Colombian street food at its finest, its "super perros" to Colombians what McDonald's hamburgers are to Americans. There are so many seemingly disparate ingredients slopped on that you can't help but stare as one passes you by, a fat perro nestled under a thick blanket of sweet and sour pineapple, creamy, mayo-based pink sauce, mayo, and a gaggle of optional ingredients, including (but not limited to) sour cream, bacon, onion, mozzarella cheese, garlic sauce, and ketchup. And just when you think this heart-stopper couldn't get more deadly or indulgent, the coup de grâce arrives with a layering of crumbled potato chips, their flaky, salty crispiness adding the sort of textural variation that becomes a necessity after you've had your first one.

A veggie-stuffed hot dog from Frankie Dogs Gourmet
A veggie-stuffed hot dog from Frankie Dogs Gourmet
Courtesy of Frankie Dogs Gourmet

9. Frankie Dogs Gourmet (Food Truck)
Visit frankiedogs.com.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Unhappy with the lack of vegetarian and vegan options available at most food truck round-ups, Frankie Dogs Gourmet owner and founder Chris Torlone decided to start a gourmet veggie dog stand himself. Named after his charismatic canine, the cart set up shop in 2012, a simple tabletop setup that eventually upgraded to a traditional cart. Today, Frankie's is best-known for its healthier hot dog options — as well as all-beef hot dogs for traditional meat lovers — served with a number of delectable homemade sides, including Torlone's divine vegetarian chili made with meat-free "meat" crumbles, black beans, and pinto beans. Our favorite dog is the Frankenstein, with hummus, avocado, sriracha, onions, and secret Frankie sauce smothered over a dog of your choice. Find him regularly outside Laser Wolf, Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, and during Weenie Wednesday at LauderAle Brewery in Fort Lauderdale.

The Chicago-style hot dog reigns supreme at Hot Dog Heaven in Sunrise.
The Chicago-style hot dog reigns supreme at Hot Dog Heaven in Sunrise.
Courtesy of Hot Dog Heaven

8. Hot Dog Heaven
101 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-523-7100; hotdogheaven.com.
For over 30 years, this hot dog stand has offered some of the most satiating Chicago-style dogs and sausages in the area. Founded by former Chicagoan Barry Star, Hot Dog Heaven serves a classic Windy City-style dog complete with all the fixings, from the all-beef dog seasoned with a secret blend of spices and hickory smoked for extra flavor to the steamed poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, bright-green relish, freshly chopped onion, juicy red tomato wedges, half-sour pickle spears, a dash of celery salt, and a couple of spicy sport peppers for a little extra zing. This unique hot dog is a work of art, made with a "salad on top" — a memorable interplay of hot and cold, crisp and soft, sharp and smooth. Since 1987, Hot Dog Heaven has been dishing out its all-natural Vienna Beef dogs, poppy seed buns, and specialty toppings shipped straight from Chicago, so you can be sure it has that authentic Chicago taste. 

Jersey-style ripper dogs from Howie's Top Dog in Davie.
Jersey-style ripper dogs from Howie's Top Dog in Davie.
Courtesy of Howie's Top Dog

7. Howie's Top Dog
5021 S. State Rd. 7, Davie; 954-792-8686; howiestopdog.com.
This Chicago-style eatery serves all the classic all-beef hot dogs — seven different types available in singles or double-style, to be exact. There's traditional Chicago fare like the famous Chicago dog and the less well-known Char dog, what is essentially the same as the classic seven-topping version, except that a grilled or "charred" hot dog is used instead of a steamed one. When given a choice, order the char for the added layer of flavor from the grill. If Chi-Town dogs aren't your favorite, you can always opt for the Ripper, a New Jersey-style one (typically made with a Thumann's beef and pork dog, although not here) deep-fried until it literally rips open. Add your own toppings, from neon-green relish and diced white onion to plain old yellow mustard, each a refreshing garnish for these crispy, deep-fried dogs.
The Chili-N-Cheese and jumbo-size corn dogs aren't too bad, either.

The New York pushcart dog from Coney Island Joe's in Hollywood.
The New York pushcart dog from Coney Island Joe's in Hollywood.
Photo by Nicole Danna

6. Coney Island Joe's
6401 Sheridan St., Hollywood; 954-966-8800.
Coney Island Joe's is owned and operated by a man named Elliot Garber who makes some of the best New York-style Coney Island hot dogs on this side of the country. The place is named after the original Coney Island Joe's that opened in Brooklyn in 1952. Today, Garber is quick to point out that his dogs aren't just New York-style hot dogs. They're authentic New York-style hot dogs that "pop" when you take a bite. Garber has been making and serving each and every dog himself since he opened the place 15 years ago, all 300-400 dogs each day, seven days a week. The menu offers a number of versions, from a plain grilled dog with ketchup and mustard to a true New York pushcart water dog topped with yellow mustard, sauerkraut, and chopped onions. Sure, the giant yellow-and-blue tent isn't really a restaurant — more of a giant hot dog stand exposed to the elements and looking a little ragged. But that's a real New York City pushcart in there, and those are real Sabrett hot dogs he's cooking, shipped straight from New York. What this place lacks in ambiance, it makes up for with plenty of New York pride; customers come as far as Riviera Beach and Homestead for a taste of nostalgic New York. When you get there, just say thank you to Garber. He saved you a 1,400-mile trip.

The Jersey Dawg food truck specializes in rippers, or deep-fried hot dogs.
The Jersey Dawg food truck specializes in rippers, or deep-fried hot dogs.
Courtesy of Jersey Dawg

5. Jersey Dawg (Food Truck)
Visit jerseydawg.com.
When you're talking hot dogs, nothing quite beats a Jersey ripper. And Rob Goodman's Fort Lauderdale-based Jersey Dawg food truck is known for delivering the real deal to patrons hankering for a taste of this northern New Jersey specialty. For the past two years, he's been serving these deep-fried hot dogs at the corner of Powerline Road and Cypress Creek Road every weekday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where patrons line up for a taste of the real deal and ingredients delivered straight from the sacred state of New Joisey. If someone tries to sell you an ordinary dog wrapped in bacon and deep-fried, just run, says Goodman. That's not a true ripper. The authentic ripper is much, much better: a special seven-inch hot dog (one that Goodman refuses to name) that is deep-fried until the meat casing crisps up and bursts open, resulting in a dense, caramelized outer casing and a juicy, plump interior — so it has that satisfying crunch when you bite into it, he says, one reason why they call it a "ripper." Then he places it in a doughy, soft, toasted Martin's potato roll and tops it off with homemade relish. The menu has other specialities, of course, everything from a ripper topped with pushcart onions and kraut to fries, spicy chili, and Taylor pork roll. Just be warned: Once you try a ripper, you won't go back to eating regular hot dogs.

The Chicago hot dog from Gourmet Killer Dogs.
The Chicago hot dog from Gourmet Killer Dogs.
Photo by Nicole Danna

4. Gourmet Killer Dogs
4057 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 917-656-3664; facebook.com.
When Kathryn Cohen's eatery opened off West Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, it immediately became a hit with the locals. The place is exactly what it sounds like: a restaurant that serves up gourmet-style killer hot dogs. The "gourmet" part is the fancy fare they serve, too, like lobster rolls; the "killer" part is how good everything tastes, no matter what you decide order. The menu offers 12 ways to do your dog, including a create-your-own option, made using jumbo beef hotdogs that make for a perfect classic Chicago- or New York-style take. Or get creative with options like the #5 Chili Mac Attack (chili, mac and cheese, Canadian bacon, and raw onion) and the #11 Bajalicious (lettuce, pineapple, avocado, jalapeño, and salsa).

Ten Best Hot Dog Spots in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
Courtesy of Diner Dogs

3. Diner Dogs
720 Park Ave., Lake Park; 561-707-4471; facebook.com.
Just like mangoes, hot dogs are summer food. Putting the two together just seems natural — at least for Diner Dogs owner Anthony Arnold. Throw it all in a gyro-bread wrap, and the meal somehow becomes intergalactic, out-of-this-world delicious. Now based in Lake Park, the former Jupiter-based Diner Dog food cart operates several days a week at the Brewhouse Gallery, where Arnold offers a menu of specialty dogs. Each is made using skinless Sabrett hot dogs wrapped not with regular, poppy seed, or potato buns, but instead with fresh-baked, garlic-buttered pita flatbread. The Mango Monroe dog is one of the most popular according to Arnold, his fresh mango salsa paired with diced onion, feta cheese, and cilantro. Others have funky names like the Teriyaki T-Bird (pineapple, onion, bacon, cilantro, and barbecue and teriyaki sauce); BBQ Bowzer (jalapeños, fried onion strings, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and sour cream); and the Sinatra Slaw Dog (horseradish sauce, caramelized onion, sweet coleslaw, fried onion strings, and barbecue sauce). Bonus: All dogs are served "double dog" style, meaning you get two hot dogs in one pita. 

Ten Best Hot Dog Spots in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
Courtesy of HotDog-Opolis

2. HotDog-Opolis
6020 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Rato; 561-988-5959; hotdogopolis.com.
A few years back, three friends — Harvey Loewenstein, Jay Wertheim, and Judy Zimmer — decided to open a place where hot dogs would be the main menu attraction. The frank-loving owners opened HotDog-Opolis in Boca Raton off Federal Highway, a small place that serves some of the most original hot dogs and sausages for a bargain (a second location opened in west Boca Raton in 2015). In a city already full of inexpensive eateries with plenty of diners, delis, and bagel shops, this is one restaurant where you can find some amazing fusion dogs and dishes for an equally amazing deal. Here, you'll get more than a basic, boring hot dog. The daily chalkboard specials cover a range of specialty dogs such as the Korean, with kimchee, red onion, and Asian mustard, or the gyro, a lamb hot dog topped with tzatziki, feta cheese, onion, oregano, and garlic. There's also a well-stocked variety of specialty sausages, from duck and pheasant to wild boar, venison, elk, and buffalo. Of course, we can't say no to the classic Chi-town dog, a Vienna footlong that's been "dragged through the garden." 

The Lake Worth-based PS561 food truck makes some of the best hot dogs in South Florida.
The Lake Worth-based PS561 food truck makes some of the best hot dogs in South Florida.
Courtesy of PS561

1. PS561 (Food Truck)
Visit facebook.com/PS561.
A few years ago, Aaron Merullo decided to roll out with a Palm Beach County-based food truck specializing in his favorite fare: the hot dog. New England transplants, the couple named and designed their truck PS561 in homage to the old-school-style NYC public schools. But that's where the nostalgia begins and ends. Their goal was to take the classic hot dog and transform it into an "experience." And that's exactly what they've done. Aaron starts by grilling his all-beef Sabrett hot dogs (or smoked turkey and vegan veggie dogs). Next, he places them on a toasted and buttered bun made fresh daily by Old School Bakery in Delray Beach. Finally, he offers any of his signature topping combinations, all made from scratch. The menu of signature staples hasn't changed much since they first rolled out in 2010, a compilation of gourmet dogs from the Hall Monitor (a Reuben-style dog with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing) to the Math Wiz (with cucumber slaw and a sriracha lime mayo). The truck's all-time favorite is the Doug E. Fresh, says Merullo, a dog smothered with bacon, sautéed onions, cheddar, homemade BBQ sauce, and a good dose of PS561's own cilantro cream sauce. The Principal Ron is our personal pick, however, with goat cheese, bacon, and that tangy BBQ sauce making a perfect pairing of salty, sweet, and savory. Of course, the daily specials are always worth a try. The best way to catch one of these dogs is to follow the PS561 Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for regular updates. The schedule changes weekly, and the truck takes a different route each week.


Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.

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