Selecting Riverfront Times' Best of St. Louis 2011 was no picnic. Choosing the winner meant several worthy candidates would go unmentioned -- until now. In this Gut Check series, we are chewing our way through notable runners up in a number of categories. To see hundreds more winners and finalists and download the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis mobile app, visit our Best of St. Louis homepage.
No longer relegated to ballparks alone or punch lines about the contents of their encased innards, hot dogs have never been so hip. So Gut Check was only too happy to fete the 'furter in our countdown of the area's best.
Steve's Hot Dogs on the Hill (2131 Marconi Avenue; 314-762-9899)
What's in a name? Does calling a hot dog a frankfurter make the little link any more refined? Probably not, but there is something about the "Molotov Dog" that just might make your mouth water before you even take that first bite, and with its habanero-chipotle spread and sriracha and additional options of pickle relish, chipotle onions and jalapeños, you're going to need all the water you can get. At Steve's Hot Dogs on the Hill, hot-dog eaters get more than just clever names, as saying each one gets you closer to biting into one of Urge singer Steve Ewing's hickory-smoked and grilled-to-perfection hot dogs and sausages. The "St. Louis Style Hyaaah! Dog" is nothing like that weiner you pulled out of your microwave, as each snapping bite comes with ample grilled onions and grilled bell peppers, hot peppers, bacon and provolone. Diners can also branch out into a number of other locally produced meats, including The "Al Hra-brat-ski" Hungarian bratwurst, topped with more sauerkraut, mustard and celery salt than you can fit under a Fu Manchu.
Foxy's Red Hots (11658 Dorsett Road, Maryland Heights; 314-770-2440)
For more than 25 years Foxy's Red Hots has been cooking up classic Vienna Beef hot-dog delights. A word to the wise: Leave the Chicago rivalry at home because Foxy's Maryland Heights spot is decked out in Second City décor. As expected, the dogs at Foxy's get the Chicago-style treatment right down to the sport peppers. The restaurant also serves up chili dogs, corn dogs, a Philly dog and, among the specialty pups, the Kathy, which features cheese sauce, bacon, pickle and mustard. (After this entry went live, commenters wrote in to tell us that Foxy's has closed. Read more here.)
Audi K's (235 N. Euclid Avenue; 314-361-0270)
Audi-K's in the Central West End is open for lunch, and an early dinner, every day but Sunday. It is easy to see why, as any one of its many specialty dogs, juicy and grilled to lightly crisp perfection, makes a perfect lunch or midday snack. Audi-K's also reopens every Friday and Saturday night from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. Why? Because sometimes at one in the morning, you need a hot dog. I mean really, really, need a hot dog. And for those who happen to be on or around Maryland and Euclid avenues when other establishments start to shut down, Audi-K's has exactly what your body needs. It covers its dogs with just about anything you might be craving when you step into the little restaurant, including simple options with ketchup, mustard and relish or the "Buddie-D Dog" topped with coleslaw, baked beans and bacon, or you can spice your frank up a bit with the "Killer Dog," covered in sauerkraut, onions, horseradish and spicy red-pepper relish. And then there are the chili dogs, prepared with chili alone or even more stuff, such as cheese, onions, hot sauce, jalapeños and more.
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