San Francisco might not have an iconic hot dog culture like Chicago or New York — but we certainly have plenty of fine frankfurters in traditional and creative styles. Purists have their options for simple dogs with onions and mustard, while adventurous diners can try theirs topped with kimchi or mapo tofu, or outfitted like Cubano sandwiches, banh mi or po' boys. The options can seem endless (especially at specialists like Dapper Dog and Los Shucos), so we've made the tough decisions for you: Cater your weekend picnic with these eight winning wieners.
Acclaimed Outer Mission–Bernal Heights destination for sustainably sourced sashimi and nigiri in classy environs with quirky Japanese-style hot dogs in the daytime.
Must-order: Kimchi dog with housemade kimchi and kimchi aïoli; mapo dog with housemade mapo tofu, ground pork, green onions and sesame seeds
Insider tip: Who needs fries with a hot dog? At ICHI, you can have the rare lunch combo of hot dog and sushi roll. For a slightly more conventional side, order the Japanese potato salad with bits of pickles and Jidori egg.
3369 Mission St.; 415-525-4750
4505 Burgers & BBQ
BBQ spot on Divisadero run by celebrated butcher Ryan Farr with smoked meats, homemade sausages, hearty sides and a famous cheeseburger, that patrons enjoy with beers on the patio or to go.
Must-order: 4505 hot dog (a bacon-studded hot dog); Frankaroni (crispy fried mac ’n’ cheese with hot dog bits inside)
Insider tip: The hot dog isn’t the only sausage show in town. Pro tip: Get the jalapeño and cheddar hot link then make a DIY sausage sandwich with the pickles and buttery Parker House roll served with the order.
705 Divisadero St.; 415-231-6993
Refined Hawaiian restaurant in the Dogpatch known for its brunch, with sake, wine and tropical drinks in cozy, beach-chic quarters.
Must-order: Spam bao dog with housemade pork Spam, preserved lemon gribiche and smoked trout roe on a beet-stained steamed bao
Insider tip: Chef and co-owner Jordan Keao's colorful and quirky Spam bao is for dinner only. But don’t worry about missing the Spam at brunch; you'll find it paired with kimchi and rice for a "musubi-style" Bibb lettuce wrap.
900 2nd St.; 415-814-3815
Courtesy of Gott's Roadside
This Napa Valley retro eatery has a Ferry Building outpost offering locally sourced burgers, fish tacos and craft beer, plus outdoor picnic tables for Embarcadero people-watching.
Must-order: Niman Ranch Fearless Frank with grilled onions, sauerkraut and pickled jalapeños (add tomatoes and dill pickles for an almost-Chicago-style dog, only lacking the celery salt); chile spice–dusted sweet potato fries for a side dish
Insider tip: Order the housemade chili with the hot dog but ask for it on the side, or things quickly get soggy and messy. Plus, you'll want to savor that top-notch beef dog for a few bites before you cover it up.
1 Ferry Building Marketplace #6; 415-318-3423
A Castro bargain-bite destination for creative hot dog combinations inspired by American cities and famous sandwiches, rounded out by sides like cheese-bacon-potato croquettes.
Must-order: Cubano dog with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and spicy brown mustard; Seattle dog with grilled onions, cream cheese, Sriracha, mustard and jalapeño; banh mi dog with sliced cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro, jalapeño and Sriracha mayonnaise
Insider tip: Any menu item can be served as chicken or veggie dogs. Also, attention night owls: Dapper Dog is open until 1 AM Thursdays and Sundays, and 2:30 AM Friday and Saturday nights.
417 Castro St.; 415-553-6332
Courtesy of New Revolution Media
Bustling Mission lunch, brunch and dinner spot serving New Orleans classics, drinks and late-night bar eats in a dynamic French Quarter–esque space.
Must-order: Off-menu andouille dog in a po’ boy bun with the same preparation as the charbroiled oysters (lots of butter, Parmesan and pecorino romano) and served with garlic fries
Insider tip: Also try the housemade andouille sausage in its natural habitat on the brunch menu as part of the red beans “loco moceaux” with white rice, red bean gravy, two sunny side up eggs and a few hunks of that sausage. The same is available as a side dish at dinner without the eggs.
2293 Mission St.; 415-872-9409
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Hip Lower Haight hole-in-the-wall spot (with two much larger siblings in the Mission and Oakland) for a variety of housemade grilled sausages on buns, plus bacon potato salad as the lone side.
Must-order: Duck sausage made with figs and brandy; lamb merguez sausage; grass-fed beef knockwurst (closest to a regular hot dog, and can be bacon-wrapped at the Mission or Oakland locations); any topping like grilled onions and sweet peppers
Insider tip: Rosamunde’s tiny original in the Lower Haight doesn’t serve beer (though you’re allowed to take the sausages next door to Toronado). The Mission and Oakland branches do have plenty of beers.
545 Haight St.; 415-437-6851
Michael David Rose
Modern bistro attached to the Tenderloin's Warfield Theater with a retro fast-food Americana vibe serving made-to-order patties, hot dogs and shakes in a bright space.
Must-order: Quarter-pound Niner dog; chili cheese dog; regular fries for a side dish
Insider tip: Much is made of Popsons' convenience as a pre-theater and concert stop. That is true, but it's also on a destination-worthy block for noshing: Start with a hot dog and burger at Popsons, then go next door for some wine and beer (and a fantastic Baltimore-style Old Bay shrimp salad sandwich) at Waystone and conclude next door with a pick-me-up coffee at Equator.
998 Market St.; 415-658-7554