Monday April 21st 2014

Hot dogs go hog wild at Portland eateries

By: Susan Axelrod

At The Thirsty Pig, hot dogs are served on wooden boards. Photo: Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography

Did you know that hot dogs were once called dachshund sausages? Food historians do not agree on the exact origin of the now ubiquitous sandwich/snack, but according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, “it is likely that Germans introduced the practice of eating the dachshund sausages, which we today know as the hot dog, nestled in a bun.”

Hawked from street carts and in sports stadiums nationwide, the basic hot dog is a blank canvas for regional customization. In New York City, where more hot dogs are consumed than anywhere else, your “dirty water dog” will come with steamed onions and yellow mustard, while in Chicago, the signature dog is dressed with bright green relish, raw onion, peppers, tomato and celery salt in a poppy seed bun. In New Jersey, the misnamed Texas wiener is the hot dog of choice. It’s deep fried, slathered in a spicy meat sauce and topped with brown mustard and chopped onion (Tums not included). Here in Maine, we like our grilled “red snapper” dogs on a toasted, top split roll, with maybe a squiggle of mustard.

Maine has some venerable, nationally famous hot dog stands — Flo’s in Cape Neddick, Wasses in Rockland and Simone’s in Lewiston — where the dogs are served with traditional toppings. In and around Portland, you’ll find inventive riffs on the humble dog, from institutions like Mark’s Hot Dogs, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in June, to newcomers like the El Corazon truck and Blue Rooster Food Co.

Read about how to switch up your hot dog routine at home: “Toppings take hot dogs beyond traditional” on

Here are a few “different” dogs from the Portland area. Feel free to let us know about your favorites: or on the Maine Today Facebook page.

Blue Rooster Food Co.

5 Dana St., Portland

Seoul Dog: Housemade spicy kimchi, toasted peanuts, roasted garlic mayonnaise: $3.75 (Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography)


Mark’s Hot Dog Stand

Middle Street at Tommy’s Park, Portland

Old Porker: Sour cream, bacon and sauteed onions $3 (Press Herald file photo)


Chicago Dogs of Maine

285 US Rte 1 Ste 3, Scarborough

Chicago Dog: Tomatoes, pickles, onion, mustard, homemade green relish, sport peppers, and celery salt: $2.89 (Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography)


The Thirsty Pig

37 Exchange St., Portland

The New Englander: Slaw and beans with choice of side: $5 (Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography)


El Corazon food truck

Parked at various Portland locations

Sonoran Hot Dog: Bacon-wrapped dog topped with pinto beans, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, guacamole, mustard and aioli: $3.50 (Ted Axelrod/Axelrod Photography)