Say “New York hot dog” and most people will conjure up a streetcorner dirty water dog or a kosher frank from an urban deli or Nathan’s of Coney Island. But culinarily, as in every other aspect of its culture, New York has two personalities: downstate and everything else; and hot dogs on the north side of the Southern Tier are a food group unto themselves, known as hots. There are two primary subcategories: white hots and red hots.
The white hot, as served by Don’s Original at the Lake Ontario summer playground known as Sea Breeze, is an all-pork tube steak (which locals know to call a porker) that wants to spurt juice when teeth sink into it. Split and grilled to sputtering succulence, a white hot is right dressed with mustard and diced onions. Don’s red hot, known as a Texas hot, is firmer and looks more like a traditional weenie and is often dressed with finely ground chili.
Even frankfurter frowners will want to know about this happy Rochester landmark, which has been serving amusement park patrons since 1945. The hamburgers and cheeseburgers are al fresco classics, cooked to order and brought to their best selves by an application of bright red hot sauce. Big, fat onion rings are made here, as is custard, available inside or at the walk-up window.