A bunch of crazy people are going to celebrate every American's right to overeat this weekend by stuffing a million hot dogs down their throats. And if this image doesn't make you want to shove a frankfurter of your own in your gullet, nothing will! Hot dogs are one of the best food inventions of all time, and this city's got a million of them. We've rounded up our favorite non-dirty water dogs around town; as always, leave yours in the comments.
NATHAN'S FAMOUS: My family used to go on a pilgrimage to Coney Island every summer, and one of the biggest highlights—second only to visiting Kathy the Beluga, may she rest in peace—was a hot dog and french-fry dinner at Nathan's. Nowadays the Coney Island eatery's a little touristy, but the quality of the dog hasn't dipped a bit. Top a $2.50 beef hot dog with mustard, ketchup and sauerkraut, opt for a side of crinkle fries, and, hell, grab a beer, you're a grown-up now, even if the Wonder Wheel still terrifies you.
Nathan's has a number of locations citywide. The Brooklyn flagship is located at 1310 Surf Ave between Stillwell Ave and Schweikerts Walk in Coney Island (718-946-2202, nathansfamous.com).
Courtesy Ralph Hockens's flickr
GRAY'S PAPAYA: It was a tragic day when the Greenwich Village Gray's Papaya closed its doors, leaving us with only one last iconic hot dog spot on the Upper West Side. Thankfully, those guys are still doling out Recession Specials—$4.50 for two dogs and a 14 ounce drink—'round the clock, a practice that will hopefully continue for as long as everyone's student loans hold out. Gray's hot dogs are long, slim, charred and packed with classic frankfurter flavor. They taste best when topped with sauerkraut and relish, and must be paired with one of the establishment's mysterious papaya drinks. Don't think about what's in your hot dog, just eat it and be quiet.
Gray's Papaya is located at 2090 Broadway between 72nd and 73rd Streets on the Upper West Side (212-799-0243).
ASIA DOG: Asia Dog started out as a little portable stand (not even a food truck, just a folding table!), but now they've got their own Kenmare Street storefront. While their dog offerings are of the pretty standard beef, chicken and veggie variety, they excel when it comes to dressing the links. Their "mash" option, for example, comes topped with spicy ketchup + jalepeno mustard + crused salt and pepper potato chips. Other toptions include everything from kimchi apples to seaweed flakes to pickled daikon to Chinese BBQ pork belly to fish sauce. While they're settled into their storefront, you can also find them popping up at events all over town with that portable table. (Jen Carlson)
Asia Dog is located at 66 Kenmare Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets in Nolita (212-226-8861, asiadognyc.com).
CRIF DOGS: If there's ever been a better definition of gilding the lily it has to top the bacon-wrapped, deep-fried beauties that practically come standard at both locations of this funky hot dog joint. And the bacon is only the beginning. They're putting all kinds of wacky things on these pups, like cream cheese, scallions and everything bagel seeds in the Jon-Jon Deragon; teriyaki, pineapple and green onions on the Tsunami; and even melted cheese and a fried egg on the Good Morning. But for my money, it's always been about the Spicy Red Neck, an unholy alliance of chili, cole slaw and jalapenos that'll truly "make you wanna slap your mama," as the menu decrees. Every good hot dog also deserves a good side, so don't skimp out on chili cheese tots to go with. What are you on a diet or something? (Nell Casey)
Crif Dogs has two locations in the city: 113 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A in the East Village (212-614-2728, crifdogs.com) and at 555 Driggs Ave between North 6th and 7th Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-3200, crifdogs.com).
BARK HOT DOGS: Bark is a little more hoity toity than some of the boiled dog offerings running around town, boasting elegant-looking creations served "New England-style," whatever that means, and topped with finely-minced pickled red onions, house-made angus beef chili and name-brand sauerkraut. But even with all these fancy-pants menu items (THERE'S A KALE SALAD HERE), you'll get one of the finest dogs in the city: plump, savory and hormone-free. Bring a vegetarian friend and feed them one of Bark's Veggie Dogs. They'll never force you to choke down a Tofu Dog ever again.
Bark Hot Dogs is located at 474 Bergen Street between 5th Ave and Flatbush Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-789-1939, barkhotdogs.com).
SHAKE SHACK: You're all tired of us yammering on about the beauty of a ShackBurger, but Shake Shack's hot dogs might best even their tastiest double-pattied offerings. A Shack-Cago Dog comes flat-topped, split in half and smothered with, relish, onion, cucumbers, pickles, tomatoes, salt, pepper and mustard, so you can pretend you're eating a salad instead of a giant meat stick. You can also opt for a DogMeister, which comes covered in cheddar and American cheese sauce, a regular hot dog or a Chicken Dog, made with chicken, apple and sage sausage. Note that before Shake Shack was the King of Burgers And Lines, it was naught but a mere hot dog stand. My, how the times have changed.
Shake Shack has a number of locations in NYC. Visit their website for details.
LA PERRADA DE CHALO: This Jackson Heights spot serves up its dogs Colombian-style, meaning that they're massive, LOADED with a million toppings and drowned in cheese and sauces. Perrada de Chalo will kill you with these toppings. Order an Iraqui dog, which comes with ketchup, mayonnaise, pineapple sauce, potato chips and hardboiled eggs; or opt for a Mixto, which comes wrapped in bacon and smothered with cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, Russian dressing, pineapple sauce, ketchup and, of course, crushed potato chips. Is your cholesterol supposed to be under 200?
La Perrada de Chalo is located at 8312 Northern Boulevard between 83rd and 84th Streets in Jackson Heights, Queens (718-639-6677).
ROSAMUNDE SAUSAGE GRILL: Theoretically, you can argue that Rosamunde serves sausages, and a sausage is not really a hot dog. This is not incorrect, but give Rosamunde a chance here, because by golly these bread-swaddled things are delicious. Grilled sausages run the gamut from all-beef knockwurst to andouille to wild boar, they're served all snuggly in a French roll and smothered in two toppings of your choosing. If you're feeling daring and/or have just been to Berlin, you can even opt for currywurst, which is just what it sounds like, and there's a whole host of vegetarian sausages to choose from, too. Bonus points: they have 24 craft beers on tap, and they cater. Sausages are forever.
Rosamunde Sausage Grill is located at 285 Bedford Ave between Grand and South 1st Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718) 388-2170, rosamundesausagegrill.com).
PAPAYA KING: It seems almost blasphemous to include Gray's Papaya and Papaya King on the same list, but the 80-year-old chainlet really can't be omitted from a hot dog roundup. Papaya King's frankfurters are a little thicker than the dogs over on the West Side, and they taste best when coupled with a few of a bevy of toppings, like cheese, chili and fried onion rings. These babies are delicious as hell, though unlike Gray's Papaya, you can't score a dog at 4 a.m.—Papaya King's UES flagship, which is much better than the St. Marks outpost, closes at midnight. You can, however, find them rumbling around Manhattan in their brand new food truck.
Papaya King has two locations in the city: 179 East 86th Street between Lexington and 3rd Aves on the Upper East Side (212) 369-0648, papayaking.com), and at 3 St Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Aves in the East Village (646) 692-8482, papayaking.com).
LOS PERROS LOCOS: Los Perros Locos—translation, Crazy Dogs—is another Colombian-style joint, complete with 10 pounds of insane toppings and all the sauces your delicate palate can handle. Here, though, you can order vegetarian dogs for an extra buck, so there's that. Try the Pablo Escobar ($6.50), which comes with pineapple salsa, apple chipotle slaw, mayonnaise, potato chips and a dusting of "perico," which is a Venezuelan/Colombian dish, but also a word for cocaine, LOL GET IT PABLO ESCOBAR. For a slightly simpler food item, there's the Chimi-Chimi-Churi, which comes with chorizo, cheese, chimichurri, aioli and potato chips for $8.
Los Perros Locos is located at 201 Allen Street between East Houston and Stanton Streets on the Lower East Side (212-473-1200, losperroslocos.com).