Celebrate National Hot Dog Day with these Five Tasty Variations You Can Make at Home!

Photo by Christina Mendenhall
Growing up in Latin America, one of the most anticipated moments of my life, not unlike Coronel Aureliano Buendía greeting ice for the first time, was vacationing to the US during the summer and enjoying "American" treats like hamburgers and hot dogs. Much like Gabriel García Márquez's latter-day personal politics, hot dogs were, well, a bit of a disappointment.

Whether grilled or boiled, the simple charm of mustard and ketchup on a cold bun was lost on my discerning third world palate. Where were the toppings? The gravity-defying towers of crisp accoutrements and flowing rivers of sauce? Where was the flavor? The joie de vivre?

Why would such a progressive and advanced country like the United States sit around so peacefully accepting such bland fare? Had they finally gone full Brit? This was, after all, the '80s and the massive hordes of largely unwanted Latinos had not quite rooted themselves as deeply as they have now, bringing with them their many-splendored flavors into the culinary siege of America.

But fear not mis queridos gringos, for National Hot Dog Day, we have five tasty variations on your favorite form of tube meat that you, yes you, can make at home this Sunday. Fun for the whole family! Your taste buds will thank you.

See also: Celebrate National Hot Dog Month with Home-Stuffed Sausage at Hot Dog Fest

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Palm Beach's Lindsay Autry Gets Booted Off Top Chef: Texas

Lindsay Autry was eliminated from Top Chef: Texas last evening.
Before Top Chef: Texas, Lindsay Autry was best-known for her duties as executive chef of Michelle Bernstein's at the Omphoy in Palm Beach.

Being the protégé of Bernstein and executive chef at one of her restaurants (since then, Bernstein has left the Omphoy) is an amazing feat for anyone at the still tender age of 29, but Autry wanted to add a Top Chef title to her already-growing list of accomplishments.

Right at the start of the cooking competition's ninth season, Autry was being called the one to beat in blogs and web pages. With consistent techniques, Lindsay was a fierce competitor, cooking for everyone from Pee-wee Herman to Charlize Theron in the process. More »

After Hours Eats With Adam Dombrowski of Rocco's Tacos

Visit this Las Olas location on Tuesdays and chef Adam Dombrowski of Rocco's Tacos is doing double time. Armed with appetites, patrons line the lot to valet for the $14.95 all-you-can-eat day. The Fort Lauderdale location opened a year ago this month.

The crowds -- and owner Rocco Mangel's success -- warrant a fourth location that debuted in Palm Beach Gardens last week. Lunch service started yesterday.

Where does chef Dombrowski eat after hours and on his days off? His choices after the jump.

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Lester's Diner: The Place to Pull an All-Nighter

Melissa McCart
"How's it going, hon?" said Dawn to a regular who walked into Lester's at 5 a.m.

"Still vertical and still employed," he returned. They continued the morning volley as she readied his tea.

"With lemon?" she asked, knowing the answer. Dawn indulged the formality. It was hospitable. They talked about the holidays, the first in years the diner that's been around since 1967 will be open on Christmas.

 "I'm working that day," she said, as Billy Joel sang "Honesty" on the radio.

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After-Hours Eats From Steven Zobel of East End Brasserie

Chef Steve Zobel.jpg
Chef Steven Zobel is the chef behind East End Brasserie at the Atlantic Resort & Spa, the subject of this week's restaurant review. Having moved here from New York this past summer, Zobel earned accolades during his tenure at Triomphe from the New York Times and New York Magazine

Despite long hours on the line and his brief residence in South Florida, Zobel has already ferreted out a handful of interesting restaurants for after-hours eats and nights off. Read on for his picks.

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After Hours Eats with Michelle Bernstein (And Thanksgiving Recipes!)

Celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein is no stranger to these parts. With Sra. Martinez and Michy's in Miami and Michelle Bernstein's at the Omphoy, she's got South Florida covered. Her restaurants fall among the most oft-recommended, having earned Best New Restaurant awards for Sra. Martinez in 2009 and a Best Chef, Southern Region in 2007 from James Beard. 

On her Twitter feed this week, Bernstein offers her family's go-to Thanksgiving recipes: a garlic-citrus marinated roast turkey; toasted challah and chorizo stuffing; citrus sherry cranberry sauce, a crispy and creamy green bean casserole, and roasted chile potato pancakes. Check out her selections here

In the few evenings she has to herself, Bernstein hits up these Broward and West Palm Beach restaurants.

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After-Hours Eats: Big City Tavern's Chef Louie Bossi

I've been perusing Las Olas wine and cheese shops lately as well as ducking into bars and restaurants down the stretch. I'm curious as to how the strip will turn itself into a holiday extravaganza on November 29, perhaps because I've never spent the season in 84 degrees.

Big City Tavern is among the restaurants I've been sampling, such as the other day's lunch of grilled ham and mascarpone with a fried egg and roasted tomatoes, hold the pesto and Hollandaise. Those last two condiments? Come on now -- that's near obscene.

As a follow-up, I've asked chef Louie Bossi, Queens native and Big Time Restaurant Group alum since 1995, where he goes when he's off the clock.

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Dean Max of 3030 Ocean: After-Hours Eats

Be on the lookout this afternoon for my review on 3030 Ocean and the cuisine inspired by chef Dean Max, the local celebrity toque whose name has been behind the restaurant for more than ten years. 

Max, who has earned this newspaper's Best Chef and Best Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, drives some of the week's content on the blog. 

I'll be talking with his former chef de cuisine, Paula DaSilva, who is now executive chef at 1500 Degrees at the Eden Roc, the only Florida restaurant named one of Esquire's best new restaurants. I'll also feature notes from the cocktail program at the hotel and outtakes from a phone interview after eating at the restaurant during which Max talks about his time in South Florida, farm to table in Fort Lauderdale, and his restaurants in Dallas and Cleveland. 

In the meantime, here's chef Dean Max's list of where he eats out after hours and on days off.

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Where Chefs Eat After Hours: Four Picks From Brandon Whitestone of PL8

After his first minivacation since PL8 opened in September, executive chef Brandon Whitestone of PL8 returns to the kitchen this week with a newly hired sous chef, Logan Street, and renewed vitality after downtime and opportunities to eat outside his own kitchen. His favorite spots display his carnivorous habits.

1. The Italian special from LaSpada's Original Hoagies
The sandwich with ham, salami, cappicola, and provolone is a Lauderdalian dude favorite. What I find most intriguing about the sandwich is the bread: It's fresh baked daily, from an Italian baker that's LaSpada's closely guarded secret. Any guesses as to who it is?
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