Over the past century-and-a-half, the humble hot dog has grown into an American national treasure. All across the U.S., the frank has grown like a tree with far reaching branches, each stemming from the same root but slightly different in taste and appearance. From Rhode Island’s New York system wieners with meat sauce and chopped onion to Cincinnati’s Skyline cheese Coneys, every corner of the country seems to have its version of this timeless treat. San Francisco is certainly no exception.
There are many places to get a good sausage in this city, but when craving a dog — I’m talking a real, on-the-street, sweaty, devious dog — there’s only one place I go. All throughout the Mission, on the corners of 16th, 20th, and 24th streets, you’ll smell the wafting aromas of bacon and jalapeño, onion and pork. Follow your nose to street carts covered with sheet pans that have been converted into seasoned planchas. On top of these homemade, portable grills are rows of hot dogs wrapped in bacon and surrounded by grilled spears of onion and peppers. As the blackened grizzle from the pan chars the smoky bacon, the hot dog’s skin cracks and start to hiss. The smell is so overwhelmingly enticing, it casts a spell on my taste buds — and I must have one.
Trust me on this, order one with everything. Piled into your classic white bun will be the bacon wrapped dog, the onions and peppers all topped with mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. It’s a beautiful, colorful mess. The buttery vegetables and the tangy blend of condiments complement the crispy pork link and create a dog like no other. I’ve had many hot dogs in my life, but few are like the ones we’ve got right here.