It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, so you'd better be the one doing the eating. Eating a hot dog, that is — whether slathered in mustard, piled with relish, onions and sauerkraut, or dressed up in something fancy. Since July is National Hot Dog Month, we're serving up our selection of the ten best hot dog joints in town.
A Louisiana red hot dressed up Sonoran style at Biker Jim's.
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
2148 Larimer Street
Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs has been hawking fat sausages from a handful of carts for years now, but these days, you don't need to stand out in the street for a hefty helping of Jim Pittenger's sausage magic. The brick-and-mortar eatery is convenient for pre- or post-ballgame snacks, as well as for Larimer Street partying until last call. Most of the dogs — including exotic links like boar, elk and veal, and an especially rare specimen, the downright yummy vegan dog — come piled high with caramelized onions and decorated with a ribbon of cream cheese, though there's a long roster of other topping choices. If the Biker Jim's headquarters isn't close enough to the action for you, just grab a Rockies ticket and enjoy a gourmet dog from one of two Biker Jim's counters inside Coors Field.
Lurking under the toppings is a Zweigle's white veal and beef dog — a rare, seasonal treat at Billy's.
Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs
2445 Larimer Street
Hot dogs are high art at Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs, which brings a taste of Chicago to the Ballpark neighborhood. Billy's serves all-beef Vienna dogs, homemade sausage, veggie and even salmon dogs spruced up with an array of fixings, from traditional kraut, onions and mustard to hot peppers, cheeses and chili. One of many house specials, the Tijuana Dog combines avocado, pico de gallo and sour cream in a yummy, satisfying treat. A gluttonous selection of french fries — topped with blue cheese, among other things — rounds out the menu. With a large patio, friendly counter staff and daily beer specials, Billy's draws crowds at lunch, dinner and game time.
Chicago Mike's is alive and well and living in Centennial.
Courtesy of Chicago Mike's.
Chicago Mike's Beef & Dogs
11405 East Briarwood Avenue, Englewood
We love the Italian beef sandwiches at Mike's, but the hot dogs also satisfy our Chicago longings when we're down in Englewood. Chicago Mike's got its start a couple of miles away nearly twenty years ago before moving to its current location — and fans from the office parks and neighborhoods nearby followed the smell of hot dogs to keep the place going strong. Since this is a Windy City spot, your best option is the all-beef Vienna dog dressed up with a pickle, sport peppers, nuclear-green relish and a dash of celery salt.
12023 East Arapahoe Road, Centennial
This small California chain got its start in 2010 before setting its sights on Centennial, which has become a prime landing zone for hot dog enthusiasts. The restaurant prides itself on its own proprietary dogs and sausages, all served on King's Hawaiian rolls. Try one of the bacon-wrapped wieners or go for something a little more exotic, like the Thai currywurst with peanut sauce: It's a hot dog in the hottest sense.
Harley's: A Hot Dog Revolution
1500 West Littleton Boulevard, Littleton
Harley's does something a little different with its dogs: The links are split open and grilled flat-side down and then toppings are loaded on, so you get more meatiness with every bite. Choose from a 100 percent kosher beef dog, spicy andouille sausage or several other flavorful links, then pile on the toppings from a list of more than a dozen house specials, from traditional Chicago-style to the straight-up bizarre Eddie Spaghetti.
Line ’em up and knock ’em down at Mile High.
Mile High Vienna
Mile High Vienna Stand
1312 21st Street, 303-292-2847
300 Santa Fe Drive, 720-379-4600
If you've eaten in Chicago, you've heard of Vienna Beef dogs. And if you love bargains, you've heard of Mile High Vienna Stand: It's the place that has a hot dog happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. every day, when four bucks gets you a true-blue Vienna Beef dog and fries — and a can of Old Style beer for $2 more. As it turns out, though, Mile High has more than just Chicago-style dogs at good prices (and served with really good fries) going for it — Italian beef, for example, another favorite Chicago dish. Mile High isn't really a stand, even if the homey storefronts on Santa Fe and in the Ballpark neighborhood are almost that small, making both a friendly stop where you can enjoy a quick bite elbow-to-elbow with fellow hot dog lovers.
Vegans can get their dog on at Mustard's Last Stand.
Mustard's Last Stand
2081 South University Boulevard, 303-722-7936
1719 Broadway Street, Boulder, 303-444-5841
Mustard's boasts outposts in both Boulder and Denver, walk-up operations that turn out hot dogs, Polish sausages and burgers of many different origins and varieties – and have been doing so for more than four decades. Mustard’s does a proper Chicago dog, topping Vienna Beef red hots with mustard, tomato, relish, sport peppers and celery salt, and that's what we like to order. But if you're looking for a chili-and-cheese-smothered weiner, Mustard's is a solid bet. And both locations get bonus points for their vegetarian and vegan options.
Keep it simple with a Sahlen's dog at the Old Fashioned Italian Deli.
Old Fashioned Italian Deli
395 West Littleton Boulevard, Littleton
The guys at the Old Fashioned know from good hot dogs. Why? Because they're from Buffalo, a city that knows from good dogs. Here, they're Sahlen's brand, boiled to a beautiful, ruddy pink and served on a simple bun, with a little twist of casing that makes a tail at both ends. The standard at the Old Fashioned is "flying with everything," which means topped with Buffalo's own Weber's horseradish mustard, dog sauce, jalapeños and much more, taken to go. But we prefer our dog naked, with just a shot of Weber's. And we like to eat it here, where the setting is as authentic as the dogs: slightly grungy, with walls covered with pictures of Marilyn Monroe, mismatched tablecloths, Sopranos memorabilia, and shelves loaded down with pastas, canned tomatoes and other Italian dry goods.
Hit the links at Steve's.
Steve's Snappin' Dogs
Steve's Snappin' Dogs
3525 East Colfax Avenue
If you were lucky enough to grow up near an old-time hot dog stand, a place where you could drive up, order dogs and burgers and shakes at the counter, then sit down at a picnic-style table to enjoy them, you'll understand what Steve's is doing right away. Steve's offers more than a dozen styles of dogs — everything from the Rippin' Rockies Dog to the Dallas Dog to the California Dog to the Denver "Burrito" Dog — using Thumann's hot dogs. Imported all the way from New Jersey, a Thumann's dog is a near-quarter-pound blend of beef and pork that snaps when you bite into it. Unlike those old-time hot dog stands, Steve's caters to newfangled tastes, too, with its veggie dogs — and even makes vegetarian green chile as a topper. Order your choice at Steve's colorful counter, then take a seat indoors or, when it's warm, outdoors on Steve's enclosed patio, where you can watch the passing parade on Colfax.
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Double down with the Swiss at Uber Sausage.
2730 East Colfax Avenue
Uber Sausage got its start as a food truck slinging sausages, then graduated to a tiny space on East Colfax Avenue in 2011. The spot may be small, but the homemade sausages are big, and big on flavor. There aren’t a lot of amenities – you’ll have to eat your sausage sandwich at one of the picnic tables outside – but the view of Colfax can be spicier than Uber's beloved mustard. The place just celebrated its six-year anniversary this month and recently added a liquor license, so you can chill with a beer and a dog while taking in the sights and sounds of the city.