Han Ly Hwang of Kim Jong Grillin' showing off the KJG Dog

Image: Michael Novak

Portland has made waves in recent news as it was declared (once again) as the best pizza city in the country. But there’s a case to be made for Portland’s stellar hot dog scene, too. We might not have street corner hot dog carts like New York City, but we’ve got hot dogs to suit everyone’s style. Chicagoans and Detroiters (the home of the Coney dog, despite the name that suggests New York) alike can find their cities’ dogs well-represented here. If your tastes lean classic meat-and-cheese, we’ve got bacon-cheddar; if you gravitate toward Asian fusion, we’ve got banh mi dogs and kimchi dogs. Read on for our top picks.

The Doghouse PDX

The Doghouse's cheddar bacon dog

This decade-old cart serves up delectably juicy quarter-pound beer-braised all-beef hot dogs—plus the option to sub vegan Field Roast sausage—dressed in a variety of classic comfort food combos. We suggest the Bacon Cheddar dog, with a layer of crispy cheese reminiscent of the Nickelodeon splatter, drizzled with mustard and accompanied by onion, tomato, and pickle for your required daily servings of veggies. Don’t forget to order one of the excellent tot bowls—one of our top 4 in the city—on the side. (Yes, you can get bacon on your tots, too.) 5029 SE Division St —KCH 

Donnie Vegas

The banh mi dog at Donnie Vegas

What’s better than a friendly neighborhood dive bar? A friendly neighborhood dive bar that specializes in hot dogs, featuring a Washington-sourced all beef hot dog (or swap it out for a vegan Field Roast dog) and fluffy buns that are a little sturdier than the standard old-school fare. We opt for the banh mi dog, which comes topped with spicy mayo, crunchy-tangy pickled and shredded daikon and carrots, and slices of cucumber and jalapeño. 1203 NE Alberta St KCH

Kim Jong Grillin'

The KJG dog

Image: Michael Novak

In 2011, Han Ly Hwang’s food cart burned down two hours after claiming the Judges Award at the 2011 Eat Mobile festival. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the Kim Jong Grillin food cart returned in 2014. The KJG hot dog is a must-have if you’re looking for mild heat and Korean American flair. The spicy daikon, kimchi mayo, and pickled mango are excellent additions to the longstanding American tradition of putting meat (in this case, Zenner's sausage) inside a bun. 4606 SE Division St —NC

 

Nick’s Famous Coney Island 

One of the oldest restaurants on the block, Nick’s Famous Coney Island has been serving up gritty diner food since 1935. The namesake Coney Island hot dog is more meat plate than the traditional bun and weiner. This heavy-handed chili dog comes in a single, double, or triple wiener topped with saucy beef, onions, and melted cheese. It's something to eat if you’re craving a hot dog where the bun is barely visible, buried under a pile of beef. Pros: the beefy chili, onions, and cheese are bursting with flavor. Cons: more chili beef than a hot dog, and you may get the meat sweats. 3746 SE Hawthorne Blvd —NC

Otto’s Sausage Kitchen 

The old-fashioned wiener at Otto's

It always feels like summer at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen in Woodstock, where from 11-5 every day, you’ll find the smell of freshly cooked sausages wafting from the grill. This meat market and deli, open since 1922, boasts nearly a century of expertise. The snappy old fashioned wiener is what you’ll want to order if you’re craving a classic hot dog, though the super-juicy beer sausage—a beer-simmered pork link—is another hit. Dress them yourself with a variety of mustards, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut, onions, and relish, and plop yourself at one of the outdoor picnic tables, or head to Woodstock Park to eat on the grass. 4138 SE Woodstock Blvd —KCH

Roake’s

The Long Coney dog from Roake's

This old-school Milwaukie institution, open since 1937, is best known for its “Long Coney Dog,” as the neon-illuminated dachshund on top of the diner-style, stainless steel-walled building might suggest. The skinny foot-long dog comes topped with yellowish, mildly spiced Coney sauce (with a bean here and there and a couple crumbles of meat—exercising much more restraint than the meat-laden dogs at Nick’s) and diced white onion on a lightly toasted bun. The hand-cut fries look and taste like they’re made of real potatoes and are fried to a beautiful deep golden brown, but much like In-N-Out fries, the crispness (or lack thereof) leaves something to be desired. 18109 SE McLoughlin Blvd —KCH

Zach’s Shack

The Chicago Dog at Zach's Shack

Equal parts dive bar and hot dog shop, this is my go-to for one of the closest reproductions of the Chicago-style hot dog I’ve had on the West Coast. What it gets right: the boiled beef dog, the pickle spears, the neon relish, the diced white onion, the sport peppers (few places nail this part), the celery salt, the poppy-seed bun, the dogs sourced from Chicago, no ketchup within a mile radius. (Substitute a tofu dog or turkey dog if you'd like.) It satisfies that itch without needing to fly into O’Hare, and what's more, you can play ping pong on the patio and drink a tallboy Rainier while you’re at it, too. 4611 SE Hawthorne Blvd KCH

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