Like so many iconic American foods, the hot dog has a special place in the heart of New Yorkers. From the ballpark frank at Yankee Stadium to the food carts that line the city streets, the hot dog is a tried-and-true New York classic. And it’s come a long long way since Nathan’s Famous started its business back in 1916 with a small hot dog stand in Coney Island.
The quest to be the proud server of ‘New York’s number one wiener’ has sparked dozens of new renditions and creative variations of the staple snack — from Japadog’s kurobuta pork dog to Asiadog’s curry and kimchi-topped beef dog.
One of the largest hot dog menus in Manhattan belongs to Crif Dog (113 Saint Marks Place, East Village). If you respect the frank, you owe yourself a visit to this East Village destination. Just how do they get their hot dogs so snappy? They deep fry their wieners and the result is an unusually crispy, golden casing. We’re partial to the Spicy Redneck, a bacon-wrapped beef dog smothered in chili, coleslaw and jalapenos, and the Chihuahua Dog with avocado and sour cream. And they go far beyond the typical toppings, offering egg, cucumber and pineapple. Vegetarians get some love, too, in the way of a Veggie Dog topped with baked beans. Add a side of Crif’s golden tator tots and a cold beer or a super thick milkshake. Crif Dog’s is a great call anytime, but the midnight snack’s the real move here.
If you like things supersized, there’s Brooklyn Diner’s (155, West 43rd Street, Times Square) “15 Bite Brooklyn Diner All Beef Hot Dog.” It ain’t cheap, but it’s got a lot going for it, including a super soft brioche bun, frizzled onion rings, warm juniper berry sauerkraut, and pickled relish. That’s 15 bites of sweet, sour, spicy and savory all at the same time. They don’t stop there. They also offer a Pigs in a Blanket starter if you’re in the mood for a challah French toast follow up.
For a Japanophied hot dog, head to Japadog (30 St Marks Place, New York) in St. Mark’s Square. A Canadian export with a cult-like following, Japadog has bragging rights to over twenty, one-of-a-kind hot dogs. For a Japanese spin on things, there’s the kurobuta pork dog, edamame dog, kobe beef dog with maple leaf bean curd, and tonkatsu dog with cabbage… to name but a few. The toppings follow suit with options, like seaweed, bonito flakes, black sesame and plum sauce. But the “Terimayo” dog is Japadog’s signature dish, a beef frank with teriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed. In the mood for dessert? Their “Ice Age” dog is a deep fried bun filled with ice cream. Or to sample the spectrum of global franks, pop into Asiadog (66 Kenmare Street, Little Italy), with franks and fries from all over the world. Ever had a chicken dog crowned with Chinese BBQ pork belly or a veggie dog topped with the Vietnamese works (pork pate, pickled veggies and spicy aioli? Now’s your chance.
If you’d prefer a bite-sized frank, 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. (Think a baby reuben, mini-pastrami sandwich and beef sliders.) 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. To wash your teeny franks down, Gastro Bar offers an impressive list of Rioja wines as well as cocktails with fresh herbs and homespun infusions.
We’re just getting started as there’s plenty more franks to chew on. We’ll be talking hot dogs tomorrow, too, so stay tuned…