It’s OK to admit it: the first image your mind conjures when you hear “hot dog” is that of Joey Chestnut on the 4th of July, standing on the stage at Coney Island scarfing down water-logged buns and ungarnished tubes of meat. That’s not quite the hot dog situation we’re dealing with down here—but, even if you don’t think of Miami as a classic hot dog city, you should start to. Because we have many excellent, creative, and non-traditional variations—from classic chili dogs to a “SuperPerro” guaranteed to make you want to take a blissful nap. Here are our favorites.
Like that Bernie Sanders meme, we are once again telling you that you should think of Babe’s Meat & Counter as more than just a top-quality butcher shop and market. Next time you visit the Palmetto Bay spot to pick up your sausages and steaks, please order the hot dog, which you could get with relish and onions, but, if possible, we suggest adding kimchi instead (the kimchi dog can often be found as a special). The kimchi adds a spicy, tangy dimension to their snappy Fripper’s dog. The whole thing is then topped with creamy mayonnaise that gives it a simultaneous cool and warm temperature contrast. In classic Babe's fashion, it’s all the flavors you loved growing up, but somehow even better than you remember.
If a genie offered to grant us three wishes to create our ideal bar, we’d say: thanks, kind genie, but Off Site already went ahead and did that for us. Literally every dish at the Little River nano-brewery is excellent—from their fried chicken sandwich to the perfect chicken wings. But their house-made all-beef hot dog is sublime. The dog itself has an excellent snap and impressively beefy flavor, and it’s topped with a salty mix of curry mustard, sauerkraut, and everything bagel seasoning. It makes for a perfect pairing with Off Site’s Super Good lager (which is both the name of the beer and how we’d describe it to a friend) and their crispy french fries.
7th Cafe is the younger sibling of Rosie’s, the beloved pandemic pop-up that answered our prayers when it became a permanent weekend spot. 7th operates from the same space as Rosie’s Monday through Friday. And 7th’s “My Dawg” is already an instant classic. Before we get into the actual hot dog and toppings, we’d be remiss to not mention the standout everything-seed bun: toasty and flaky on the outside, buttery and as soft as your favorite hoodie on the inside. It’s the perfect vessel for a dog smothered with grilled onions, relish, mustard seed, and sauerkraut. We’d also just like to take a moment to put the idea of a 7th Cafe and Bagel Max (the great vendor who provides 7th’s bagels) bagel dog into the world... Did it work yet?
You didn’t think we’d leave Arbetter’s off a hot dog guide, did you? We’re not trying to fistfight literally all 2.7 million residents of Miami-Dade County. Plus, there’s a reason the classic Bird Road spot has been a staple in the city since 1959: it’s great. The chili dog here is a must-order, and you might as well practice self-care by adding cheese on it, too. Like all proper chili dogs, the chili is the star at Arbetter’s. It’s slightly tangy and savory, perfectly complemented by the gooey cheese and steamed bun. It’s a smaller dog than many others on this list, but that’s a good thing in our view because it gives you an excuse to order chili cheese fries too. And maybe some onion rings.
On a visit to this Miami institution, you probably have one thing on your mind: the fritas. And for good reason—they are great. But what if we told you that you could have the best parts of a frita and still get a hot dog? With El Mago’s Magic Doggy, that can happen. Spiced frita meat and crispy potato sticks are piled atop a hot dog. Every bite is crunchy and incredible. But fair warning: the entire thing will probably collapse in on itself about halfway through, due to frita grease and the sheer weight of its contents. But that’s OK, just ask for a fork and soldier on.
Tropidogs is a pop-up, so we’ll start with our requisite pop-up advice: go to their Instagram page for the latest info on where to find them. We’ve caught them outside Wynwood’s J Wakefield before, and they’re normally at the Virginia Key Outdoor Center on the weekends. But you really should do your best to find them eventually, because they’re making some very tasty hot dogs. They have a few great versions, like the Big Kahuna Dog with adobo-glazed spam and pineapple sauce. But on our last visit, we tried the bacon-wrapped elote dog, which is 1,000 percent as good as it sounds. It's essentially what would happen if elote and a hot dog ran into each other at 200 miles per hour. The dog is topped with just enough charred corn, crema, tajin, and cilantro to get a little bit of everything in each bite.
“Go west, young man” is a quote from 1865 attributed to Horace Greeley related to the concept of Manifest Destiny, but it’s also one that we’re stealing from Mr. Greeley to encourage anyone who thinks that Miami ends at Coral Gables to go eat out west. And on that eating adventure, stop at Los Perros for the mammoth “SuperPerro,” an intimidating dog topped with smashed chips, pink sauce, melty cheese, and enveloped by a large bun that might as well be a cumulus cloud. We think it’s even better with a healthy drizzle of their green sauce, which adds a garlicky bite.
Dogma is a United Nations of locals. As you wait to order, you might spot construction workers on their lunch break, club kids squinting at the sun for the first time in 12 hours, or that aging Miamian who has spent way too much time tanning. The menu here is full of many great regional options: a Coney Island dog with brown mustard and sauerkraut, a Texas dog with bacon and American cheese, a Jersey dog with grilled onions, sweet peppers, and potatoes. But our favorite is the Chicago dog. Sour and crunchy from the pickle spear, sweet from the neon green relish, with just a bit of heat from the pepper, every bite is perfect. Enjoy it to-go or on Dogma’s little outdoor patio. And feel free to buy an extra water for those club kids—they probably need it.
Much like construction on I-95, the hot dog toppings at Flagami’s Sweet Dogs are seemingly endless. If that sounds overwhelming to you, we say keep it simple and go with the namesake Sweet Dog. It’s a Nathan’s quarter-pound grilled dog topped with sweet pickles, chopped white onion, smoked bacon, home sauce (their take on a BBQ sauce), and crispy La Choy noodles. That last ingredient might seem a bit odd, but it provides a satisfying crunch to an already excellent dog.
El Alpha Dog is a food truck that bounces around, but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you can find them in a Brickell parking lot (1324 SW 1st Ave) that houses ghost kitchens and their Blade Runner-esque delivery robots. It’s easy to miss this spot, but that’d be a shame, especially if you’re in need of late-night sustenance (they’re open until 3am Friday-Saturday, and midnight on Sunday). The Clasico Colombiano is our favorite here, and it consists of a hot dog topped with onions, cabbage, shoestring potatoes, grated cheddar, mozzarella cheese, ketchup, pink sauce, mustard, and pineapple sauce. As you probably just said out loud, yes, it’s very saucy, and you will need roughly 3,000 napkins. But somehow, all those toppings work in harmony and will have you strongly considering ordering another right after your first bite.