When I think of the Fourth of July, yes, I think about Betsy Ross and fireworks and the Declaration of Independence. But mostly I just think about hamburgers and hot dogs—and Friendly's Wattamelon Roll. Sure, you could stay home and grill up some burgers and dogs in your own backyard, but this is a travel blog, so where's the fun in that? Here are my personal picks for the best all-American eats worth traveling for. (Feel free to chime in with your own faves in the comments.)
Fave hot dog place:
Mel's Hot Dogs in Tampa, Fla.
Red vinyl booths and the snappiest dogs in the South make this nostalgic joint a winner. Less than five minutes from the local Busch Gardens theme park, this hometown favorite was founded by Chicago-born traveling musician Mel Lohn in 1973. Don't miss the famous Chicago-style dog, with mustard, relish, pickles, tomatoes, celery salt, and hot sport peppers served on a steamed poppy seed bun. It's the tastiest version below the Illinois state line.
Fave hamburger place:
Shake Shack in New York City and Miami Beach.
Started by renowned New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, Shake Shack is a celebration of all-American classics like burgers, fries, frozen custard, and the eponymous milkshake. As the sometimes hours-long lines out front can attest, this pick is far from a secret find. It has quickly become a New York institution. The true test of quality? The winding queue usually contains just as many picky, food-savvy locals as it does tourists. I can't say if the burgers are juicier or cheesier or meatier. They're just perfect-er.
Now it's your turn: what is your favorite all-American hotspot to grab a hamburger or hot dog? (And, no, your backyard does not count!)