San Diego’s Best Hot Dog


I Love Hot Dogs! So I set out to find San Diego County’s best hot dog. My buddy posted to R/SanDiego asking what their favorite hot dog location was. He gave me a list and I took off to find San Diego’s best hot dog.

*disclaimer:  I tried to be as scientific as possible, mostly because my wife came with me and demanded it. For each location I tried to get as close to a chicago dog as possible because I feel like that is the truest form of hot dog (dog, bun, relish, mustard, onions) and many places have it which makes it easier to compare. This unfortunately meant that I could not have any of the bacon wrapped, deep fried, or cream cheese options that some of the locations had. This was a pure hot dog contest and we aimed to keep it that way.

Honorable mentions:

  • Barona Casino hot dog stand: delicious and cheap. Good quality on the dog.
  • Lucha Libre: TJ dog was good and the decorations I will never forget!
  • S&M: best bun I have ever had, Nic Cage artwork was most impressive.

*pictured: Lucha Libre (1+2), S&M Nic Cage artwork (3,4,&5)

5) Money Pit, San Marcos

I am big fan of Money Pit. I live in Escondido, so this is my main place to grab some quick delicious food. They unfortunately do not have a traditional “chicago dog” but they have all of the ingredients for it and when you put it together, it is magic. They have many awesome options and (sadly) I have tried them all. Their ripped dog (deep fried) and Junkyard dog are my favorites.

The interior is fascinating and fun to eat in. The restaurant was converted from an old bank which explains why they have a giant bank door in the middle of the entrance (Money Pit . . . bank door . . . get it?). They also have a bunch of money themed movie posters and money themed tables (ones with poker chips, pennies, and even one with foreign currency). Their hot dogs were pretty damn good and they made the list at 5.

4) Duff’s Doggz, Carmel Mountain

Duff’s Doggz is the classic hot dog stand done to the very best level. It is located in a Home Depot parking lot in Carmel Mountain. The little unassuming shack sells a wide variety of hot dogs. I had the chicago dog and it was pretty good. The hotdog was average and the bun was good but the toppings were really the hero of the dog and very tasty.

The owner’s dog Agave was outside and kept us company as we ate. I liked the outdoor seating and the guy behind the counter was very friendly. Definitely a tasty dog and I look forward to trying some of the more adventurous dogs.

3) Rims Donuts and Dogs, Lakeside

I was not impressed at first. The strip mall it is located in was unappealing and I was not sure I had found the right place based on the reviews online. I walked into a nice little donut shop with tons of pictures of celebrities on the walls and daytime television on for the tables. They had an amazing selection of donuts and it took a lot of willpower not to say “screw the hot dog, I will take the maple bacon donut and the one with the fruity pebbles” but I was on a mission.

The guy at the counter was very friendly and seemed a little surprised I ordered a hot dog (it was 9 a.m. and I was probably drooling looking at the donuts). When I got the dog I was surprised because it looked very similar to Duffs chicago dog but the bun is what put them over. Don’t get me wrong, the ingredients were very good and the dog was cooked perfectly and was tasty but the bun was the hero. It was flavorful and had poppy seeds on the outside which I thought was a nice touch. All in all I was very impressed and look forward to trying their donuts next time I head to Lakeside.

2) Daddy’s dogs, Hillcrest

Daddy’s Dogs was almost #1 for multiple reasons. First and most importantly, the dog was amazing. Daddy sells many types of dogs and judging from the people and their excitement for the dogs that they ordered, they are all delicious. The dog was cooked perfectly, the ingredients were fresh and delicious, and even the bun was on point. I liked the location and that it was a walk up hot dog stand, you never really see these anymore and it was a nice change. I like that you can grab your dog and go or eat out in front at the stand only tables.It had a very community centered feel to it.

The best part for me was the naughty humor (this is in hillcrest, a famously LGBT community). The sign read “you can bite into this wiener” when I went. I found a sign (posted above) online that reads “Swallow Daddy’s hot dog and you’ll come again”. My inner 14-year-old was giggling. The real icing on the cake was that their logo is a wiener chasing a bun, just perfect.

1) Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria, North Park

Lefty’s was just awesome, the only bad part was finding parking. A wonderful little pizzeria with deep tempting aromatic smells that hit you from the street and invite you in. My mouth is watering just remembering the place. The pizza looked very inviting but the hot dog was what I came for. I was also very pleased with Lefty’s wide selection of drinks and great customer service but I was really blown away by the dog.

To be fair; Leftys, Daddys, Rims, and Duffs were all very good and any one of them will leave you quite satisfied. What really set Lefty’s ahead of the rest was the execution and the amazing fries. The bun was fresh and not soggy, that dog was cooked perfectly, and all of the ingredients were fresh and vibrant. The fries that came with the dog were not expected and really set it apart. Now I know that it does not have anything to do with the hot dog and this is a hot dog competition. With that being said, they were all so damn good I had to find something to help me declare a winner. The fries were some of the best fries I have ever had and considering it came with the dog for a very low price, they won. The hot dog came out fast and was made to perfection and for that they deserve to win the best hot dog in San Diego!

Thank you for reading this. I had a lot of fun making this post and look forward to not eating hot dogs for at least a month. 7 hot dogs in a day is too much which also brings me to want to thank my wife for coming with me and splitting the culinary adventure on what I now refer to as the “hot dog gauntlet.” I hope you enjoyed reading this and it would help me out if you like, share, follow and if you really like it maybe buy me a coffee?

~James Wilder



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