Hot Dog varieties: The Half-Smoke

One of my simple guilty pleasures that I indulge in on every trip to the DC metro area: A “Half Smoke” hot dog , with mustard and “cooked onion” sauce.

Many of you that aren’t from broader Washington, DC metropolitan area are probably asking, “what the heck is a half-smoke?” Like many areas (Chicago and Rochester being particularly good examples), Washington, DC has it’s own particular variant of the hot dog, the half-smoke. A half-smoke is a close cousin to the hot dog, but is a slightly larger and spicier sausage, with a level of seasoning halfway between a typical smoked sausage and a hot dog, hence the name. Interestingly, however, the sausage itself isn’t smoked (halfway or otherwise).

Despite the odd name, the half-smoke is one of the things I like about the DC area, and it’s obvious I’m not alone. Half-smokes are pretty much ubiquitous around the DC area, with virtually every hot dog cart having them (along with the nearly obligatory “cooked onion” sauce, although chili makes a fine topping as well). Indeed, I usually never need to stray far from a Metro stop (Ballston, in this case) to score a half-smoke with mustard and cooked onions. I always like this combination; the meat is slightly more coarse than a hot dog, the spicing of the dog works well with the slightly spicy onion sauce, and the the mustard gives it a good tang.

Not bad for $2.

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