It was no surprise that my hot dog search was littered with double entendres and childish snickers. And this post will be more of the same. Try to control yourself, if you can.
While the jokes were not surprising, I was surprised to realize that there are different levels of wieners. We’ve always been told size doesn’t matter, but there are lots of other things that determine the kind of wiener you may be holding in your hand. And no matter which style you prefer, New York is definitely a hot dog town, with lots of winning options.
You might be craving a street hot dog, which will cost $2 or under and goes very nicely with a sweet, tangy onion sauce and some sauerkraut. Turns out, the best of these classic dogs doesn’t really come from street carts any longer, who mostly keep their links in warm water resulting in a soggy dog. Instead, I have always (and will continue) to direct people to hot dog stands throughout the city – namely a place with the word Papaya in its name, especially Papaya King, which is called that for a reason.
Nathan’s does another classic dog, but I urge you to visit the original Coney Island location (now that they’ve re-opened following damage from Hurricane Sandy), which is leagues better then any of the other locations around the city (or country, for that matter).
Or perhaps you have expensive tastes (sadly, like myself) and are looking for one of the gourmet, higher-end dogs. These are refined versions of the ballpark favorite, often housemade, and topped with more sustainable ingredients that contribute a culinary experience to the pop of the sausage. Daniel Boulud (and his Chef Charcutier Aurelien Dufour) has mastered the art of sausage making at DBGB,
so has Bark which might be Brooklyn’s new favorite dog (brushing it with lard doesn’t hurt) . And while these cost considerably more money, they don’t leave you with a burning sensation in your gut.
Then there’s the classic kosher deli hot dog that pairs nicely beside any other salty preserved meat, like corned beef and pastrami. Katz’s takes the crown for this as well, which was no surprise.
This is also where I should mention German and Polish frankfurters, the best of which I tasted at Eagle Provisions in Park Slope.
Finally, the fusion dog is a new phenomenon in New York and I won’t complain about topping a frank with things as wacky as kimchi, guacamole, bonito flakes, mac and cheese, and pineapple salsa. Some worked better than others, like Los Perros Locos, Crif Dogs, and Ditch Plains, but all offered a unique hot dog experience.
But if I had to pick a favorite (which I always do), I can’t stop thinking about the surprising wiener I had at Dominick’s truck all the way out in Rego Park, Queens. The elusive big blue truck steams the dog and manages to preserve its flavor, juiciness, and irresistible snap. It’s actually worth the trip all the way out to the middle of Queens.
And while many of the establishments I visited use the same Sabrett or Hebrew National dog, it all came down to how it was served. Grilled, boiled, sliced, served in a buttered bun, wrapped in bacon and deep fried. The ones that stand out were the ones that had the tastiest and most unique wiener. And that’s the last wiener joke for today, but there will be more. Check out all the rankings here, but stay tuned for some more immature wiener talk as new hot dog joints open and the journey continues.