The Hottest Hot Dogs and Wursts in the West

Western chefs are turning out delightfully haute dogs.

Olympia Provisions Wurst Sausage Bar selections arranged side-by-side in Portland, Oregon, picture
The (un)usual suspects line up at Portland's Olympia Provisions Wurst Sausage Bar.
David L. Reamer

Frankly, who doesn’t like sausages? And the humble hot dog has recently enjoyed a renaissance, getting glammed up by chefs across the West with international flavors and even vegetarian ingredients. Get ready to expand your mind (and your palate) at these inventive eateries.

It began as a pop-up at gourmet charcuterie producer Olympia Provisions; now Olympia Provisions Wurst Sausage Bar has become a Portland institution. While the original inspiration may have been chef Elias Cairo’s childhood memories of footlong Wrigley Field frankfurters, the current (Portlandia-approved) menu is proudly Northwestern, with local pork from Carlton Farms and buns from Portland French Bakery. Try a flight—three half sausages and three five-ounce pours—to mix and match the best brats and beers.

Drawing on his experience growing up on a ranch and his training in butchery, Dave Faulk runs Porterhouse Market, a gourmet meat shop in Eagle, Idaho. Visit at midday to score a charcuterie-centric sandwich such as the hot pastrami, or stop by the deli counter to buy freshly ground sausages to take home.

The folks behind award-winning Überbrew in Billings, Montana, know that few things complement a good wurst like a great draft beer. So as you settle in for a pint of Humulus Insani, an IPA that took gold at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival, double down with a local andouille lightened by dill pickles, or boiled Bockwurst sprinkled with caramelized onions.

When you visit the Basque Market in downtown Boise—to grab Spanish foodstuffs to go such as specialty sausages or stuffed olives—come hungry. Three days a week, the epicurean shop makes paella in a pan that serves up to 60, complete with local chorizo, then serves it communal style on the patio.

Where better to taste the legendary Sonoran hot dog than in Tucson, the southern Arizona city that popularized the grilled, bacon-wrapped wieners topped with beans and tomatoes, served on crunchy yet soft bolillos? Locals are divided on whether El Güero Canelo—the showplace of celebrated chef Daniel Contreras—or BK Tacos, which wraps dogs in its proprietary buns, serves the best interpretation. Why not try both on South 12th Avenue, where the hometown heroes face off dog-to-dog?