We promised more hot dogs and we’ve got some doozies. There’s plenty of franks to keep us busy well through fall. One of our favorite shrines, Bark Hot Dogs (474 Bergen Street, Brooklyn), takes every aspect of the hot dog seriously. That means oak barrel-aged sauerkraut, homemade pickles and heirloom baked beans toppings. If that doesn’t have your attention, their beef-and-pork frank should. Bark’s sausages are all made at Hartman’s upstate and basted in smoked lard butter before meeting their griddled fate. Bark’s specialties are the Bacon Cheddar Dog, and the Chili Cheese Hot Dog. Or you can design your own with bacon-braised sauerkraut, bark habanero sauce, or pepper relish. And they’ve got a vegetarian dog of their own — made from mushrooms and chickpeas — that comes slathered with a pickled garlic mayo. Pair your wiener with a local craft beer and you’ll become a believer. Bark Hot Dog is oddly great for breakfast, too. There’s egg sandwiches with sausage, bacon, or veggie sausage, as well asa stellar side of cheddar & grits.
Ever had a hot dog on a challah bun? Or a carrot dog, for that matter? Now’s your chance because Willie’s Dawgs (351 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn) takes the artisan frank to an unprecedented level. They bake three kinds of buns in-house — challah, rye, and multi-grain. There’s three kinds of beef dogs, skinless dogs, tofu dogs, chicken dogs and more. You can’t order wrong, but we think the best items are listed under “Dawg Recommendations,” especially the “Blue” with blue cheese, tomato, and chopped onion on a rye roll, and the “Daisy” with sweet pickle relish, mustard, and cheddar on a multi-grain roll. Get a knish side or their signature onion rings.
If you’d prefer a snack, there’s a new game in town called Gastro Bar (345 West 35th Street) with tapas inspired by not just Spain, but also the five boroughs. In keeping with the small plates theme, their Mini NY Hot Dogs — bite-sized franks that pay homage to the Nathan’s classic – come with sauerkraut and mustard. (There’s 20 tapas on their menu at all times.) Wash it down with a Rioja wine or one of their cocktails, made with fresh herbs, citrus juices, and homespun infusions.
You can order a burger at the GO Burger (1448 Second Avenue), a sibling of BLT Burger, but the real find at this Upper East Side spot is the “Pigs in a Blanket.” Go Burger’s take on this finger food classic is a Kobe beef hot dogs wrapped in a flaky puff pastry and served with a spicy mustard dipping sauce. Talk about an addictive bar snack. It’s much more than a burger joint: They’ve got everything from spiked milkshakes to lobster rolls and spicy pork tacos. Then, there’s Five Guys (43 West 55th Street), which seem to multiplying like bunnies these days. That means you can get a kosher dog or bacon cheese dog on a freshly baked bun with pretty much any toppings you want (Bar-B-Que sauce, steak sauce, jalapeno peppers, & grilled mushrooms) with a side of Cajun-style fries.
While there’s plenty of newfangled and artisan franks these days, you have to pay respect to institutions, like Papaya King, for putting hot dog on New York City’s map decades ago. Back in 1932, a Greek immigrant named Gus Puolos decided to open a tropical fruit and juice stand, which was exotic and unfamiliar at the time. Long story short, he fell in love with a German-American named Birdie, who suggested selling frankfurters, too, and the rest is as they say history . Puolos named his store Papaya King (179 East 86th Street, Upper West Side) and came up with a signature, “Polynesian Papaya Dog” with mango salsa, coleslaw and jalapeños. Many admirable imitators have sprung up around the city since, including Gray’s Papaya (402 6th Avenue) in the West Village and Papaya Dog (239 1st Ave) in the East Village — both open 24 hours a day for cheap eats.
Great hot dogs at great prices, Hot Diggity Dog (263 Prospect park West, Brooklyn) combines two of New York’s favorite foods – hot dogs and pastrami— in one clever dish. It’s called the “Windsor Weenie”—a pastrami-wrapped dog with sauerkraut, swiss cheese and mustard. This Brooklyn joint’s also known for its Spicy Chicago Dog and Veggie Soy dog, which surprisingly holds its own again the meat kind. Don’t forget an order of their extra crispy waffle fries. Hope you’re hungry because hot dog season has officially begun.