When the end of summer nears, we begin to recount all of the things we didn’t do this year. Stop yourself right there and end the season right by downing the quintessential warm-weather indulgence: hot dogs.
Lucky for you, we put together a who’s who list of hot dog vendors around Lake Minnetonka. From lake-side trolleys to big-city restaurants, everyone’s put their unique spin on this American classic. But don’t take our word for it—get out there and try some for yourself. Your summer bucket list will thank you.
Tommy’s Tonka Trolley
Mackenthun’s hot dogs
It doesn’t get much more local than this. Tommy’s Tonka Trolley, a warm-weather mainstay at the Port of Excelsior, offers up what owner Tom Drummond calls the best hot dogs around: Mackenthun’s all-natural beef and pork franks made right here in St. Bonifacius.
“I’ve sold many hot dogs over the years,” says Drummond, “but these are the best I’ve ever tasted.”
Mackenthun’s award-winning hot dogs are made from beef round, beef chuck and pork trimmings, and contain no filler. They’re handmade, hand chopped and encased in natural casings giving them their signature curved shape. And make no mistake about it that you’re getting your money’s worth with an oversized dog, coming in at a 6:1 ratio, meaning there are six hot dogs per pound. (Other retailers make 8:1 or 10:1 dogs, says Drummond.)
These hot dogs are so good on their own, Drummond states, it’s a shame to cover them up with toppings. However, he willingly offers up ketchup, mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions and cheese at no additional charge. He can even throw on some of the trolley’s signature spicy taco meat if you’re looking for a dog with an extra kick. “For a concession stand, I try to offer high-end food,” he says.
If you stop by the trolley with your own hot dog in tow, Drummond always has out two water bowls—one for the little guys and a bowl for the taller dogs—and plenty of dog treats. If you’re looking for a little something extra for your pooch, don’t miss the Frosty Paws non-dairy ice cream delights for sale. $3.25. 379 Lake St., Excelsior; 952.220.0101
Wayzata Bar & Grill (The Muni)
Patrons of the Wayzata Bar & Grill know that variety is the spice of life. And they also know that any day of the week, they can count on a fresh, quality hot dog to quench that summer craving.
Take your pick of three hot dog combinations at the Muni: the Everyday Dog, the Chili Dog or the Bacon Dog. Looking for a classic interpretation? The Everyday Dog is a 1/4 lb. all-beef kosher hot dog that comes plain or with your choice of toppings: ketchup, mustard, relish or onions. $5.25.
Mix it up a bit with the Chili Dog, an all-beef dog topped with cheese and the Muni’s famous chili—a legendary menu item from the old Muni that’s made in small batches to stay true to the original recipe. Or choose the steak, black bean and chorizo chili, which took home the Best Overall and Golfer’s Choice awards at the 2011 Wayzata Chilly Open. $6.95.
Looking to add more pork to your diet? Order the Muni’s Bacon Dog: Take their all-beef frank and jazz it up with thick, apple-smoked bacon and your choice of cheese. It’s true that everything’s better with bacon, including this crowd pleasing hot dog. $6.95.
All Muni dogs are served with a pickle and your choice of fresh fries or sweet potato fries. 747 Mill St., Wayzata; 952.473.5286
Adele’s Frozen Custard
Classic hot dogs and bratwurst
Food might not be the first thing on your mind at Adele’s Frozen Custard, but their hot dogs and brats have been menu mainstays since the shop’s opening 25 years ago.
Adele’s carries 1/4 lb. Hormel hot dogs on fresh buns delivered every other day from Cub Foods in Minnetonka. They’ve got the usual toppings—ketchup, mustard, relish and onions—but can also top their dogs with chili, cheese or sauerkraut for customers who prefer a Chicago-style treat. What’s more is that every Wednesday from open to close all summer long, Adele’s features a hot dog special that nets you their signature dog, a bag of chips, and a malt or shake for only $6.97.
If you’re digging a different taste, sink your teeth into one of their bratwursts. Adele’s brats are 1/4 lb. and grilled throughout the day so you’re promised a fresh brat when the craving strikes. “It’s been a hush hush thing for a while, but people are realizing how good our brats are,” says manager Emma Nordeen. “We’ve really stepped up our advertising this year.” Hot dogs, $2.99; brats, $3.29; toppings extra. 800 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.0035
Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille
Grilled Vienna Beef Dogs
The Gold Nugget likes to do things a little different, and their hot dog is no exception. The Grilled Vienna Beef Dog is—like the name implies—grilled not steamed, and comes on a toasted New England-style bun reminiscent of a lobster roll. It’s thicker and sliced vertically to hold the dog better.
Now this hot dog isn’t for the faint of heart. Partner Kris Newcomer is quick to point out you won’t find this frank on their children’s menu. “It’s on the real menu,” she adds, “and has been there since the beginning.” One dog not enough? Double the meat. In the mood for a chili dog? Add chili and cheese. But the toppings don’t stop there.
You can take any of the original or gourmet toppings found on their Original Gold Nugget Burger and add those to the mix. Brie or Sriracha mayo? A fried egg or Russian dressing? Oh yeah, they’ll do it here. The sky’s the hot dog limit at the Nugget. $5.25; toppings extra. 14401 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.3600
Not Your Average Butcher
Locally made meats to grill at home from Mackenthun’s in St. Boni:
Few family businesses have endured the era of supermarkets and mega chains. But from the very beginning, Mackenthun’s Meats & Deli in St. Bonifacius has continued to support their commitment to traditional, local products with an ever-increasing focus on current sustainable techniques and modern technology.
“There’s been a turnaround in the meat industry,” says owner Cathy Mackenthun. “People are trying to buy more local products again: more sustainable foods, more organic meats.” And with this shift, it’s just another reason Mackenthun’s is still as incredibly successful and loved today as it was when it opened its doors in 1955.
As the fourth generation in a thriving family business, Mackenthun began working for her parents, Martha and Ruben, when she was in grade school, taking over ownership in 1981. And today, she does “a little bit of everything,” she says. “I work wherever the store needs help for the day. If we need to cut meat, I’ll do that!”
According to Mackenthun, a great addition to hot dogs on the grill is their summer sausage, of which they produce five different varieties ($7.79/lb). Did we mention it’s the most-requested item in the store? And for a fantastic way to beef up your summer meal, make sure to pick up some of their locally produced bratwurst ($5.19–$6.59/lb.). Get your pick of turkey wild rice, Sam Adams and kraut, bacon cheddar, cinnamon apple or chicken parmesan, among other varieties.
For a change from the typical processed supermarket meats, head to St. Boni and kick your summer grilling up a notch with a stop at Mackenthun’s. 4275 Cty. Rd. 92, St. Bonifacius; 952.446.1234; —Marguerite Happe