There’s an emotional seasonality to hot dogs. They don’t grow on trees or in the earth, but there’s a time of ripening in the year when a pork or beef or veggie hot dog, nestled in a grilled or steamed bun, seems in tune with nature.
This is that time.
We’re in the season of ballpark hot dogs and cookouts and drives planned around the best roadside joints.
The Triangle Hot Dog Bracket aims to crown the best hot dog in this hot dog-obsessed region. The News & Observer has started with 16 of the best local hot dog stands, shacks, bars and restaurants. Voters can pick their favorites in each round until a winner is named.
In the first round, you can pick up to eight spots. This round ends at noon Friday, May 20.
Here are the 16 most popular hot dogs.
316 W. Geer St., Durham. 984-569-2003 or instagram.com/accordionclub
Like a carnival Ferris Wheel, a basket of hot dogs warms behind the bar at this beloved Durham dive bar. For its many varieties of cheap cans and craft beer on draft, at its heart the Accordion Club is a chili bar, serving a meaty and rich pork version or a bright and spicy green chili version. Other toppings include funky and crunchy kimichi and always velvety warm nacho cheese.
105 W. Chatham St., Cary. 919-467-1877 or ashworthdrugs.com
This downtown Cary soda foundation and pharmacy has been around for 65 years and serves mountains of hot dogs each week, coming in pork, beef or veggie. The all-beef option extends well beyond the bun and the pork comes in bright red.
713 N. West St., Raleigh. facebook.com/thecardinalbar
This Raleigh dive bar serves dogs on New England-style split buns, griddled on both sides to add a little structure under the weight of topping options like chili, slaw, jalapenos and cheddar cheese. There are no house creations, only whatever the diner’s hot dog heart desires.
2233-102 Avent Ferry Rd., Raleigh. 919-834-3354 or facebook.com/cloosconeyisland
Named for a strip of New York City famous for hot dogs, but built as a monument to Detroit, Cloos’ serves hot dogs and hamburgers seared on a flattop grill. The hot dog roster is a tour of the famous American styles, from New York to Chicago, and the original Coney Dog, with chili, mustard and onions.
126 Kilmayne Dr., Cary. corbettsburgers.com
This gourmet hot dog menu uses Nathan’s Famous wieners and features some of the most creative combinations to land on a bun. There’s the Boston Dog, wrapped in bacon and topped with baked beans, onions and Cheerwine barbecue sauce, or the Spicy Dog, which peps up coleslaw with ghost pepperjack cheese.
931 N. Miami Blvd., Durham. 919-682-3109 or thedoghouseus.com
2009 Guess Rd., Durham 919-286-9200
5279 N. Roxboro Rd., Durham. 919-471-3800
3521 Hillsborough Rd., Durham. 919-383-7900
114 Boone Square St., Hillsborough. 919-644-0100
This roadside stand is entrenched with hot dog lovers around Durham, serving from a walk-up window that often draws a crowd. Charmingly, all the hot dog varieties are dog references, from Ol’ Yallow (heavy on the yellow mustard and American cheese), to the German Shepherd (mustard with sauerkraut, of course).
4879 NC-42, Clayton. 919-553-4088 or facebook.com/thegrocerybag40
Just outside the massive Flowers Plantation development, this Johnston County destination boasts hot dog sells well beyond a million.
2728 Guess Rd., Durham. 919-471-0005 or jimmysfamoushotdogs.com
4435 Hwy 55, Durham. 919-361-6888
With locations in north and south Durham, Jimmy’s is only a decade old, but serves up the classics so well you’d think it’s been around forever.
415 E. Main St., Clayton. 919-553-7528 or facebook.com/jones-cafe
This Main Street staple stands out in a quickly changing downtown Clayton. Jones Cafe, or Jones Lunch as some call it, is still a dining room of local power brokers, feasting on all the way hot dogs in the checkered floor dining room.
701 Foster St., Durham. 919-682-0071 or kingssandwichshop.com
You can see this Durham legend beyond the center field fence in ballpark scenes from the cinema classic Bull Durham. In the past 30 years, nearly everything about that part of Durham has changed, but the lines at King’s remain long and loyal and you can get your hot dogs bright red or brown and “All the way” means chili, slaw, onions and mustard.
7 S. West St., Raleigh. 919-832-8292 or facebook.com/theroastgrillhotweiners
The scarce and special stools at the Roast Grill counter are one of the most coveted culinary perches in the Triangle. There, diners can watch rows of hot dogs slowly blackened and topped with homemade chili, yellow mustard and onions. That combination and the narrow bar make for one of Raleigh’s most important restaurants.
214 S. White St., Wake Forest. 919-556-8026 or shortysfamoushotdogs.com
This downtown Wake Forest lunch counter is more than 100 years old and still serves up one of the Triangle’s most popular hot dogs. Shorty’s goes with a bright red variety, blackened on a flattop grill and best enjoyed on a barstool.
1931 Wake Forest Rd., Raleigh. 919-833-0992 or snoopys.com
3600 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. 919-755-9022
2431 Spring Forest Rd., Raleigh. 919-876-3775
82-101 Glen Rd., Garner. 919-799-2545
This Eastern North Carolina style hot dog joint has been a Raleigh favorite since the 1970s and was at the center of the city’s late-night food options until closing its Glenwood Ave. location in 2020. Here, hot dogs are served with a point of view, coming with onions, mustard and chili, unless you’d rather eat it some other way.
6320 Capital Blvd. Suite 119, Raleigh. 919-872-2222 or facebook.com/stevesplacedeli
The front of Steve’s Place reads only ‘Hot Dogs,’ drawing diners to North Raleigh for the house specialty. The toppings are stuffed onto the hot dogs here, from rich chili to finely topped slaw. It’s not often you run into foot long reds as a hot dog option, but always a joy.
107 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. 919-903-9566 or supdogs.com
This Franklin Street outpost of a Greenville icon has become a fixture in the UNC fandom universe, with students finding the Columbia Street intersection just a quick sprint away. The namesake hot dogs are a slam dunk (see what we did there?) even when there’s not a big game, serving up a gourmet-style menu with classics like Chicago dogs with all the fixings, sauerkraut-topped New York dogs and creations like the Hawaiian dog, topped with pineapple and sweet honey mustard.
159 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. 919-942-5161 or suttonsdrugstore.com
Practically built into the bricks of Franklin Street, Sutton’s is a beloved old fashioned soda shop and pharmacy style lunch counter, serving lunch hour hot dogs the way it has for decades. Next year, Sutton’s will mark 100 years in Chapel Hill.