Once spring rolls around and the temperature hits at least 50, Buffalonians are more than ready to bust out the shorts and find the nearest hot dog stand – and even more likely in the summer. Western New York has a pretty large population of hot dog restaurants that offer a variety of experiences and options. Some are open all year long, but many are seasonal, prompting Buffalonians to eagerly wait for the first signs of spring. Below we have showcased our picks for the best five hot dog restaurants (and, in one case, food truck) in the 716. While Sahlen’s is still king as far as hot dog sourcing goes, a few of our picks offer some alternate dog choices as well as some unique toppings that are sure to please both picky eaters as well as the most seasoned foodies.
Ted’s Hot Dogs, multiple locations
In my opinion, any of the eight Ted’s Hot Dogs locations are a must visit for a tourist traveling through Western New York. Ask any Buffalo ex-pat what they miss the most about their hometown, and Ted’s is sure to be on their list. Their signature menu item, a charcoal broiled Sahlen’s hot dog, sounds deceivingly simple but is one of the best meals in Buffalo at any time of the year. If you’ve never visited before, the friendly and helpful staff will guide you on your hot dog adventure. They operate like efficient assembly lines, with the customer going down the counter and customizing their hot dogs at each step. I recommend ordering everything on top but you definitely can’t miss out on their spicy hot dog sauce. Since their prices are so affordable, you can really splurge and order some extra sides. I specifically recommend their onion rings. They are sliced thin, lightly breaded and well worth $3.
This family business started in 1927 with a humble stand in the West Side and they haven’t stopped serving hot dogs since. Regardless of where you find yourself now from Orchard Park to Williamsville, there’s a Ted’s hot dog nearby. We recommend checking out their oldest location in Tonawanda. While most of the locations look very similar, this Sheridan Drive restaurant has historical significance and some fun photography from the location’s earlier years on display.
Louie’s Original Footlong Hot Dogs, multiple locations
In Western New York, there are two Louie’s. Both versions have nearly identical signs, both offer hot dogs and both are often confused for one another. While Louie’s Texas Red Hots are fine establishments with breakfast dishes and some greek classics, in this post I’m referring to the original Louie’s Original Foot Long Hot Dogs in Tonawanda. This seasonal hot dog restaurant, right off Sheridan Drive, has been operating since 1951 in a red and yellow striped stand. Over 60 years ago, owner Louis Turco introduced Western New York to the foot long hot dog and they’ve been popular ever since. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years; they still offer all of your grilled favorites. We recommend sticking with their hot dog, charbroiled Sahlen’s, ordered with everything (mustard, hot sauce, onions and pickle). Their freshly cut fried potato ‘buttons’ and curly fries are some of the best in the area and are cut and fried to order.
As a post meal snack, grab one of their milkshakes. Our favorite is their Elvis special; peanut butter, chocolate and banana. It’s delicious. Since you’ll be visiting during the warmer months, grab a set at one of their picnic tables in the back.
Mississippi Mudds & Old Man River, 313 & 375 Niagara Street, Tonawanda
If you drive down Niagara St. in Tonawanda along the river, it’s impossible to miss the one-two punch of Mississippi Mudds and Old Man River. Owned by the same company for well over 25 years, these two seasonal hot dog stands are stand alone restaurants about a block apart from each other. It’s almost impossible to talk about one without mentioning the other, not to mention Northtowners get into arguments over which one is better. The Chicago-style hot dog at Old Man River has all the proper toppings and their seafood shack offers deep fried shrimp, lobster tails, clams and even steak and BBQ options. Don’t miss out on the sweet potato fries, either. They are some of the best in the region. Mississippi Mudds has a very similar menu of hot dogs and hamburgers in addition to chicken sandwiches, Italian sausage and beef on weck, but you can dine on their roof and enjoy the scenery of the Niagara River and a lovely breeze. They also have a great ice cream menu to top off the night with. You really can’t go wrong either way. Our regular trip involves grabbing a hot dog and fries at Old Man River and finishing the day with ice cream in a waffle cone on the roof of Mississippi Mudds.
Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs, 707 Kenmore Avenue, Tonawanda
Frank is maybe the fanciest hot dog on our crawl, but their hot dogs can stand up next to any of the classics. Run by brothers Frank and Paul Tripi, they hit the streets as a food truck in January 2013 and have built a dedicated fan base that stand in line no matter how long. Frank’s menu has evolved to showcase artisanal hot dogs and additional house made toppings. The current menu features chili dogs, kraut-covered dogs, all beef dogs, Banh Mi dogs and homemade vegetarian dogs. The toppings also continued to get better and more adventurous. You’ll find dogs topped with tomato jam, pickled veggies, blueberry BBQ sauce, sweet potato chili, and Tijuana cream sauce. Don’t sleep on their burgers and freshly cut fries either, they are some of the best in the area and severed with delicious house made dipping sauces.
George’s Hot Dogs, 5808 Herman Hill Road, Boston
Located in Boston, NY a bit south of Chestnut Ridge Park, George’s has been cranking out hot dogs to loyal customers since 1967. A favorite summer dinner location for many families in the Southtowns, George’s has pretty standard run of the mill hot dog stand offerings. Hot dogs, hamburgers, curly-q fries (a must order, they are fresh cut and perfectly crisp) and milkshakes join chicken sandwiches, sausages and even some salads on their large overhead menu. While not groundbreaking, the food is consistently fresh and satisfying. Hotdogs and hamburgers are char-broiled, as many in Buffalo prefer, and the rolls are provided by another Buffalo staple, Costanzo’s. Condiments are of the standard variety; ketchup, mustard, onions and pickles. Be prepared to wait in line (and make sure you have cash), especially once soccer and little league is in session, but it’s worth it. After you order you move down the counter, watching your receipt fly down past your head on a zipline in front of you. Diners can eat inside at a few tables (which no one does) or at one of the many picnic tables surrounding the building outside. What makes George’s great is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything fancy. There are no bells and whistles. It’s a simple seasonal hot dog stand that offers consistently good summer comfort food. There are few things better on a warm July night than a hot dog and fries at a picnic table while you forget that winter even exists.