Tom Lohr is an avid traveler and has driven the entire length of Route 66 twice.
A Real Wiener of a Road Trip
It is no secret that Route 66 is a beacon for foreign tourists aching to get a taste of the real America. Thousands flock to the mother road each year to experience the United States without the glossy veneer of packaged trips to tourist hot spots. The route is large enough to accommodate all who seek her and provide a personal journey through the heartland while avoiding throngs of holidaymakers. Ask any non-U.S. resident to name a road in America and Route 66 will be a quick answer.
Also ask any foreigner to name one food item associate with the United States and in many cases you will find that they identify the hot dog as our quintessential dish. With Route 66 and hot dogs being so keenly identifiable as American, it makes perfect sense that anyone planning the great American road trip along this road would seek out the best hot dogs to complement that journey.
Hot dogs can run the full spectrum of taste and quality. While there are many places in towns along the route where you can grab a wiener, not all are created equal. In order to maximize the pleasure of the gastro portion of your trip, we have run down the best and most iconic hot dog joints from Chicago to Santa Monica. These purveyors of processed meaty deliciousness serve up the best dogs either directly on Route 66 or a few miles from it.
Address: 1060 W. Addison Street, Chicago, IL
You can't visit the Windy City without having a Chicago style hot dog. These dogs are said to be “drug through the garden” due to their generous topping of vegetables. The best place to get one? Wrigley Field. You can start your pure American road trip by visiting the second oldest stadium of the national pastime. You can watch a game in the only ballpark near Route 66 that still looks the same as it did during the entire official existence of the road. If baseball isn't in season, or the Cubs are out of town, any hot dog stand in Wrigleyville will serve you a quality Chicago dog.
Address: 6031 Ogden Avenue, Cicero, IL
After leaving the skyscrapers of Chicago behind, be sure to stop at Henry's and get the hot dog that is “a meal in itself.” Henry isn't kidding. They put a heap of fries on top of the dog for an all-in-one American treat that will leave you satisfied. In addition to serving up some great eats, Henry's boasts one of the more unique and photographic signs along the route. Not hungry? Henry's is still selfie worthy.
Cozy Dog Drive-In
Address: 2935 S. 6th Street, Springfield, IL
While not technically a hot dog joint, this Route 66 favorite is not to be missed. Everyone loves a corn dog, but how about having one made by the people that invented it? After experimenting with batter that would stick to a hot dog frank, Ed Waldmire Jr. sold his first corn dogs at Lake Springfield. Soon after he opened this landmark drive-in calling his invention “cozy dogs.” The rest is history.
Steve's Hot Dogs on the Hill
Address: 2133 Marconi Avenue, St Louis, MO
Steve's is a newer joint, opening in 2011. But after fighting your way through the St. Louis traffic you will be ready to bite into the delicious dogs offer up at Steve's. The Hill area of St. Louis is the traditional Italian section of town and boyhood home of the likes of Yogi Berra. Just a mile or so off of Route 66, it is worth the detour to sample a high end hot dog. The St. Louis style or Gorilla Mac & Cheese dogs are recommended.
Address: 1005 N. Rolla Street, Rolla, MO
Cruising through the Missouri countryside and work up an appetite, and it is a long way between St. Louis and Joplin. Fortunately, O'Doggy's has you covered. Nestled in the quaint downtown area of Rolla, this fusion of Irish pub and hot dog stand serves up some great road grub. Try the Wrangler, it's a hot dog with steak strips and will curb any hunger.
Instant Karma Dogs
Address: 527 Main Street, Joplin, MO
Everyone needs some high-end fine dining while on the road. If you are looking for a unique meal that qualifies as gourmet on your trip, then pull into Instant Karma Dogs in Joplin. The recently opened eatery was founded by an award-winning chef that has taken hot dogs to a new level. If you are in the mood for something meaty and slightly spicy, the pulled pork, beef frank, swiss cheese and pickles Cubano Dog is highly recommended. A word of warning: these are fork dogs, you won't be able to eat them by hand, and they are BIG; come hungry.
Address: Multiple locations, Tulsa, OK
This is a chain, but a local one. There are several Coney I-Lander locations throughout Tulsa, but this one is directly on Route 66. Serving the small but tasty coney style dogs since 1926, travelers making their way along the Mother Road have enjoyed these meaty treats for as long as the road ran through Tulsa. Be sure to get at least two.
Moe Dogs Grill
Address: 3515 SW 6th Avenue, Amarillo, TX
Too many of the old, nifty service stations along the Mother Road have fallen into disrepair or been bulldozed. Once such former Shamrock station in Amarillo was saved by Steve “Moe” Moore. He kept what he could of the original facility and converted it into one of the best dog joints in Texas. Like 'em hot? Give the Lightning Dog a try.
The Dog House
Address: 1216 Central Avenue SW, Albuquerque, NM
The Dog House has been a Route 66 staple for decades. It remained a popular Duke City haunt known for its hot dogs with the frank cut in half for even grilling and a red chile sauce that bites back. Then, it became a filming location and frequent dining choice of the Breaking Bad character Jesse Pinkman. It is one of the few locations that appears in every season of the popular series. While Pinkman is fictional, the delicious dogs with a New Mexico flair are not. Dine in or use the curb service. Cash only.
The 505 Burgers and Wings
Address: 1981 NM-603, Gallup, NM
Not a pure hot dog joint, The 505 (505 is northern New Mexico's area code) serves up great road grub, including a lineup of out of this world, state-themed hot dogs. Just a mile or so south off of the Route, it's worth the detour. Want the closest they have to a traditional dog? Get a Utah Dog. Feeling like something spicy? Order up a Texas Dog.
The Dog Haus
Address: 1302 Historic Rt. 66, Flagstaff, AZ
Motoring through Flagstaff on Route 66 you will soon pass the hard to miss Dog Haus with its unique red A-frame roof. The patriotic and pious owner demands the best quality dog and service that Flagstaff can offer. There are outside tables to enjoy the mountain scenery while you down your dog, or can use the drive-thru and grab some to go. Nothing in Flagstaff is better than chewing on a Dog Haus hot dog while sitting at the visitor's center and watching the trains thunder by.
Delgadillo's Snow Cap
Address: 22235 E. Historic Rt. 66, Seligman, AZ
This iconic eatery has been keeping it simple yet tasty since 1953. You can get a six-inch Bob Dog, or the footlong John Dog. Be sure to get your dog with everything for the full experience. And be careful, trickery abounds at the Snow Cap, you never know what sort of prank the staff will pull on you.
Pink's Hot Dogs
Address: 709 N. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Just a few blocks off of the route, Pink's is the most famous dog vendor along the way, and perhaps in the entire nation. It doesn't hurt that it is located in Hollywood and has been frequented by a literal who's who of Tinsel Town since 1939. They have a massive menu that, after eating one of their creations, will ensure you return to try another. It's a great place for a meal if you are looking to catch a glimpse of celebrity eating a hot dog and to drink in the Hollywood vibe.
Hot Dog on a Stick
Address: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA
Normally, I wouldn't recommend any national chain of an eatery. Your Route 66 journey is about exploring the uniqueness of America. The Hot Dog on a Stick location at Santa Monica pier is an exception. The company started in 1946 and its very first hot dog stand is on the beach at the head of the pier. Where your journey stops, theirs started. Actually a corn dog, it is the perfect end for wrapping up your American food meets America's Main Street trip. You can grab a dog on a stick and saunter down the pier with a healthy dose of Americana under your belt and in your tummy.
Route 66 is a vanishing national treasure. It deteriorates every year and those fabulous mom and pop diners along the route rely on travelers for their livelihood. So, put your excuses in the drawer, pack a bag and hit the road . . . and enjoy the hot dogs.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 09, 2020:
I am definitely hungry now. You are right. Route 66 is well known in the UK. This is an excellent guide to hot dog sellers along the route.