Connecticut is known for a lot of things when it comes to culinary mastery. We’ve got the CT Wine Trail all around the state; the CT Beer Trail thanks to our amazing craft breweries; and even the CT Pizza Trail celebrating all that is gooey and cheesy in the New Haven area.
But did you know there’s a CT Hot Dog Trail? Okay, so you probably haven’t seen it called that anywhere, but it’s true: Connecticut knows how to make a great hot dog (How could we not when we’ve got Hummel Bros based right in New Haven?). Connecticut does hot dogs so well, in fact, that there’s even been a documentary made that focuses on some of the stat’e best dogs.
Without further ado, here is the CT Hot Dog Trail, featuring 14 amazing joints that will serve you up the dog of your dreams.
Doogies—2525 Berlin Turnpike, Newington
Doogies is the home of the 2-foot hot dog. Located in Newington, the restaurant has been featured on Man vs. Food, on the Travel Channel, and has become a legend in Connecticut for delicious hot dogs.
At Doogies, you can get your hot dogs in a lot of special combinations, including Bacon and Cheese, Chili & Kraut, the works, and a lot more. If none of the combinations offered appeal to you, you can create your own and they’ll make it for you on the spot.
Doogie’s aims to make the best hot dog their customers have ever had. Rachael Ray magazine declared them “the #1 grilled hot dog in the country.”
Al’s Hot Dogs—248 S Main St, Naugatuck
Al’s Hot Dogs in Naugatuck has been called your proto-typical New England roadside hot dog joint. It’s got an old-timey feel that brings nostalgia with it. It’s easy to wonder if your grandparents may have come here on a date in high school.
Though they serve everything from breakfast foods to burgers, the house specialty is the foot-long frank, which can be served in many styles. One thing that also sets Al’s apart is the fact that all of their relish is handmade (and even includes a red and fiery Hawaiian style).
Capitol Lunch—510 Main St., New Britain
Capitol Lunch is an institution in the Hartford area. Known as the place with “hot dogs with the famous sauce,” Capitol Lunch still sells its hot dogs for the original price—$1.65.
You can order your hot dog one of three ways—with the works, everything, or up. No matter which one you choose, you will receive a hot dog with yellow mustard, raw onions, and the famous meat sauce. The dogs themselves are made by Rosol’s and are a natural skin frankfurter, and the famous sauce consists of finely ground beef and minced onions in a dark gravy seasoned with nutmeg and other spices.
If you’re hungry, you can also get a variety of burgers and sides. And if you find yourself enamored by the Famous Sauce, you can buy it by the pint to bring home for your own summer barbecues!
Kamp Dog—15 Broad St, New London
Kamp Dog started its life as a hot dog stand under the Niantic River Bridge in 2003 before moving to the Broad Street location for a 2009 grand opening. The name is a sweet combination of the owners’ names: Ken (Hochstetler) and Anne Marie Pulsifer.
The restaurant’s signature dish is the Kamp Dog, a grilled long hot dog topped with Dynamite Sauce, cheese, and onions in a New England style bun. The Dynamite Sauce is what makes the joint stand out: Spicier than chili, it really bumps the dogs up a few notches on the flavor meter.
And, come on. How could you not love a place that calls itself “A Fine New England Weinery”?
Jake’s Diggity Dogs—216 Crown St, New Haven
Jake’s Diggity Dogs in New Haven is one of those odd meeting points in American cuisine, where you can have a quintessentially American food like a hot dog on the same menu as 21 flavors of Hawaiian mochi ice cream.
Jake’s offers foot long hot dogs with 34 different toppings for you to choose from, including 10 mustards and four different relishes from around the country. There are 32 specialty dogs on the menu from you to choose from, ensuring you’ll find something for every taste.
From the everyday varieties (think Chicago dogs and chili dogs) to the downright strange and delicious (think a Reuben dog, Hawaiian dog, a hot dog burrito, a hot dog topped with mac and cheese, and even a hot dog served with eggs), Jake’s is bound to be a hot dog lover’s paradise.
Rawley’s Drive-In—1886 Post Rd, Fairfield
Rawley’s is the place to try if you’ve ever wondered what a deep-fried hot dog looks like. The dogs start in the fryer before being transferred to the grill, which gives them a crisp snap, unlike any other dog you’ve had before.
Specialty plates include chili dogs and “The Works,” which includes sauerkraut, bacon, mustard, and fried onions. The owner proudly says that these dogs aren’t fast food, so there’s usually a line and a wait, especially on the weekends.
Fun fact, this is apparently one of Martha Stewart’s favorite hot dogs (if you can imagine her enjoying a hot dog).
Weiners on Water—East Haddam, CT
When you’re looking for a hot dog, chances are you’re looking for a stand or roadside joint. Weiners on Water is neither of those. Instead, it’s a hot dog boat that serves its delicious fare in East Haddam in the Connecticut River marina.
They are a legend of sorts for boaters, jet skiers, and all manner of watercrafts. Specialty dogs include the chili cheese dog and the Kelly Dog, a kielbasa frank covered in select sauces and toppings. If you’re looking to enjoy a dog with a view, then Weiners on Water is exactly what you’re looking for.
Top Dog Hot Dog—221 Marlborough St, Portland
Top Dog Hot Dog in Portland, CT may look a little gimmicky with its hot dog-shaped trailer, but it’s been in operation for 36 years, so it must be doing something right. Pulled along by its signature yellow taxi, this hot dog stand has a nostalgic feel to it that’s hard to find anywhere else.
Top Dog Hot Dog is only open until 3pm, so you’ve got to hustle to grab one if you’re in the mood for it. The dogs are steamed, which can be a nice change from the grilled dogs you find everywhere else.
The spicy Cajun dog is a favorite. Topped with spicy chili, pepper jack cheese, and a sweet New Orleans-styled relish, it’s unlike most of the other dogs you’d find in CT.
Blackie’s—2200 Waterbury Road, Cheshire
Blackie’s Hot Dogs has been in Connecticut since 1928. Over the years they haven’t made many changes: They serve the same hot dogs with their famous homemade hot relish.
The menu is simple and easy to follow, all you need to worry about is deciding how many you want! The hot dogs themselves are custom-made for Blackie’s by Rosol’s, so you won’t find anything like them anywhere else.
If you like the relish as much as everyone else, you can also purchase some to bring home with you to add to your own sandwiches and dogs.
Guida’s—484 Meriden Road, Middlefield
Guida’s was opened in 1953 as a roadside hot dog stand in Meriden by Bill Guida. When it first opened, it was rather tiny and only seasonally operated, but as the local taste for his 10-inch hot dogs grew in popularity he decided to open a restaurant in 1957 that would continue to serve his namesake hot dogs alongside other favorite foods.
The hot dogs can be topped with your complimentary choice of basic toppings (including ketchup, a variety of mustards, onion, and 2 kinds of relish) or specialty toppings for an extra fee (including homemade chili, sauerkraut, spicy relish, cheese, roasted red peppers, fried onions, fried peppers and onions, and bacon).
Guida’s is a basic hot dog done exceptionally well, and as such has grown to be a favorite in Meriden and the surrounding area.
Glenwood Drive-in—2538 Whitney Ave., Hamden
The hot dogs at the Glenwood Drive-In are known for being simple: No fancy toppings or silly names here. Just good, old-fashioned char-grilled hot dogs that people love. You’ve got just 4 options to choose from: A hot dog with ketchup or mustard, a cheese dog, a chili dog, or a chili/cheese dog (we told you it was basic!). There are, of course, other food options and sides to choose from as well.
Owned and operated by the Stone family for more than 60 years, the hot dogs here have been voted the #1 Connecticut by Connecticut Magazine, a major feat in a state with so many great dogs.
Better yet, every Wednesday night from April to October, the Glenwood hosts something they call “Cruise Night” where people display their classic cars (similar to what happens at Heavenly Donut in Derby), which brings back a lot of nostalgic memories and really helps to cement the picture of the classic American drive-in.
Frankie’s—700 Watertown Ave., Waterbury
Frankie’s was first opened in Waterbury in the depths of the Great Depression, and it was slow-goings for a while. It wasn’t until the owner decided to offer an extra-long hot dog that business really started to take off (after all, when people don’t have a lot of money to spend, getting an extra-long hot dog on an extra-long bun is sure to pique diners’ interest).
In addition to the classic dog, you can get a lot of specialty varieties, including the Mexican (with chili), the Italian (with peppers and onions), the Portuguese (with mushrooms and onions), the French (with hot cheddar cheese), the Irish (with Bacon), and the Wisconsin (with American Cheese).
Though the original Frankie’s is located in Waterbury, there are 7 in total: 3 in Waterbury, 1 in Naugatuck, 1 in Meriden, 1 in Bristol, and 1 in West Haven. No matter where you are in Southern Connecticut, you’re never very far from this favorite.
Super Duper Weenie—306 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield
Super Duper Weenie began its life as a food truck selling, you guessed it, hot dogs. In 1999, the restaurant entered a new phase of its history by opening a quaint restaurant in Fairfield, and there’ been no turning back.
The menu at Super Duper Weenie has a lot of options and specialty dogs for patrons to choose from, each unique in its toppings and flavors. The New Englander comes with sauerkraut, bacon, mustard, sweet relish, and raw onion; the Chicagoan comes with lettuce, tomato, mustard, celery salt, hot relish, and a pickle, the Dixie comes with homemade chili and coleslaw; the Georgia Red Hot is made from spicy sausage topped with sauerkraut, mustard, and relish; and there are a ton more.
Over the years, Super Duper Weenie has received many accolades from national publications and food critics, with appearances on PBS, The Food Network, Late Night with David Letterman, and many more. The boys have catered for Martha Stewart Living, Sandra Lee and Guy Fieri of “Diners Drive-ins and Dives.” And in 2016 it received the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Road Food by Connecticut Magazine. Talk about a lot of hype!
Merritt Canteen—4355 Main Street, Bridgeport
The Merritt Canteen opened in 1942, originally serving nothing but hot dogs, burgers, and seafood. Though the menu has expanded quite a bit over the years, their dogs remain a favorite amongst regulars and locals, and were even featured in an episode of the Food Network series Diners, Drive-Ins Dives.
Their menu includes 6 varieties of dogs running the gamut from classics like hot dogs, cheese dogs and chili dogs (which is apparently quite spicy) to hot dogs topped with fried onions (drool) and even a coleslaw dog.
Beyond their dogs, the canteen is also quite popular for their famous chili, which one chili-fanatic and cookbook author described as “a tantalizing mystery.” It’s popular on their dogs, burgers, fries, and even on its own.
What Do You Think?
So what do you think, did we list out all of the best hot dogs in CT? Which of these hot dog joints top your list as number one? Did we miss any that you think deserve to be included in this list of the best hot dogs in Connecticut? Let us know in the comments and maybe we can add them in!