My search for the best hot dog in New York continues….


I’m very embarrassed to admit that I had never been to the classic East Village hangout Crif Dogs. Sure, I’ve been inside and even made the secret phone call to enjoy drinks behind the wall at psuedo-speakeasy PDT. And I’ve eaten some of the higher-end chef-inspired hot dogs and tots inside the cocktail lounge. But somehow I had never eaten a real crif dog. I missed this during my younger late night East Village romping days. And so this is exactly why I do these searches.

I’m also amazed it’s taken me this long during my hot dog journey to follow the instruction of the iconic big red wiener. But here I was one early evening, ready to in fact “eat me”.

No doubt I was the oldest person in the subterranean shop, but nobody knew any better thanks to my youthful appearance. I hesitated at the retro video games, but pushed on for my first Crif experience.

This place specializes in deep fried hot dogs and topping combinations in the style of Jersey Dogs that immediately appeal to the East Village stoner. Things like the Morning Jersey (wrapped in Taylor ham, melted cheese, and a fried egg) or the Jon-Jon Deragon (cream cheese, scallions, and everything bagel seeds). I played it safe, while also trying to get a good sense of what these guys do best.

So first I chose the New Yorker with mustard, onions, and sauerkraut. This all beef dog is the easiest to compare to the city’s standard. It was a thin and snappy wiener that was really delicious. It had classic salty, tangy flavors with all the toppings and is no doubt one of NYC’s finest. I wasn’t crazy about the overly bready roll (I thought it could have used some toast marks), but it is certainly classic.

I followed that up with the Chihuahua, which is the kind of wacky concoction that Crif Dog is famous for. ┬áThis dog is comprised of both smoked beef and pork, then it’s wrapped in bacon and deep fried. It’s served alongside some avocado and sour cream. What the -?

Amazingly, it worked. And I hadn’t ingested any intoxicants (at least I don’t think so). The dog and bacon were both crispy with a nice smoky salty quality. It was tamed by the lightness of the avocado and the creaminess of the mayo. The sausage itself is a bit more mild than the traditional dog. These flavors, while perhaps artery crushing, were mighty tasty together.

Crif Dogs makes a certain kind of late night drunk food dog that works and tastes great. But I’m not sure how often I’ll be returning here. Perhaps if I had discovered the wonders of these wieners ten years ago, I might have had a few more dogs (and notches) under my belt.

Does Crif Dogs have the best hot dog in NY? They do a great job with cheap, dirty dogs – both the traditional NYC style and the crazy, heart stopping deep fried bacon wrapped style. 9 out of 10.

CRIF DOGS
113 Saint Marks Place (between First Avenue and Avenue A),
East Village
(212) 614-2728
555 Driggs Avenue (at North 7th Street),
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
crifdogs.com
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Category: Hot Dogs

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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