Chili Dogs Will Warm You Up

Sometimes when pork and beef put aside their differences, the result can be so beautiful to behold it will change your whole outlook on lunch. Am I tired of sausage, reporting on it from Germany all of last week for two outlets and having spent most of yesterday putting together a sausage gallery you should look out for later this afternoon? Clearly I am not. I mean, I don't think I'd dig into even Ein im Weggla right now; however, chili dogs don't exactly belong in the realm of bockwurst and landjäger. They're more of an all-American tailgating junk food thing. And it's football season, when mustard and chili also put aside their differences for the common good.

One chili dog I'd like to shout out right off the bat is the Cincinnati Chili Cheese Coney, either from Gold Star or Skyline — I don't care, I'm not from Cincy, I have plenty of other crazy regional foods here in the city to keep me occupied. But should I find myself on a certain airline destined for a certain hub on my way to a location that almost certainly has better local specialties, you bet I'm getting one (or four) of these pups.

It's a half-sized all-pork hot dog in a squishy white bun, doused with soupy cocoa and cinnamon-spiced beef chili, squirted with yellow mustard and topped with chopped white onions and a mound of finely shredded mild cheddar. While lacking any textural distinction whatsoever between these layers, it is remarkably delicious.

Another winner — and my Los Angeles food praise almost exclusively involves either Korean or Mexican — is La Brea staple Pink's. The wait here begins with finding a parking spot or alternative place to leave your car where it won't immediately get towed. Has my car been towed from the Pink's area? Yes, but I was at Canter's getting pastrami. This is a dog I will happily wait half an hour in line in 95-degree weather for. The line never gets shorter, nor do their 12-inch all-beef franks covered with thick, spiced beef-and-bean chili. There is no best time to go. You simply have to wait it out.

Finally, and I've only had this one once (because a second would most definitely kill me), there's Arizona's Sonoran dog. Tricked out with tomatoes, onions and salsa, plus crumbled cotija cheese, ketchup, mayo and a hearty scoop of stewed pinto beans. It is approximately the size of three chili cheese coneys, or one Kylie Minogue.

If the only thing sticking to your ribs right now is hunger, I recommend slathering some ground meat on your ground meat, accessorizing as you wish, and solving the problem like a big boy.