There’s no single food that says “New York” quite like the humble hot dog.
Maybe it’s the fact that people here are busy, so something quick and portable is just convenient. Or perhaps it’s the democratizing effect of topping some tube meat with sauerkraut and onions that we appreciate in this historically diverse city.
But either way, in New York City you can grab a hot dog just about anywhere — from Yankee Stadium to the steps outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most coveted spots for hot dog vendors thanks to the millions of tourists who pass by on “Museum Mile” each year (so coveted, in fact, that vendor Thomas Makkos pays the city’s top rate of $415,670 per year for the spot. Just imagine how many ‘dogs he must sell to pay that rent off!).
So in honor of National Hot Dog Day on July 23, we’d like to share NYC’s best hot dogs.
Sabrett’s all-beef wieners are the hot dog of choice for most hot dog carts and storefront stalwarts like Gray’s Papaya, Papaya Dog and Papaya King (we know: what’s with the “papaya”? At all of NYC’s most popular hot dog joints you can buy a refreshing papaya drink to wash down your frankfurter. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it…or choose another tropical drink instead. All three of these hot dog shops also serve other non-alcoholic drinks like pina coladas, daiquiris and “Coconut Champagne”).
Gray’s Papaya is known for its “Recession Special,” a satisfying snack of two hot dogs and a 14-ounce papaya drink for less than $5. Cooked on the grill, the hot dogs at Gray’s Papaya are far tastier than those you can buy from a hot dog cart where they are cooked in hot water. And with bustling business 24 hours a day, the condiments are always fresh. But don’t take our word for it; celebrity chef Mario Batali is apparently a fan, and even traveling foodie Anthony Bourdain counts Gray’s Papaya as his favorite. Gray’s Papaya has two locations — one on the Upper West Side near the Museum of Natural History at 72nd Street and Broadway, and the other in the West Village at Sixth Avenue and 8th Street.
Meanwhile at Papaya Dog (located just a few blocks from the West Village Gray’s Papaya location), in addition to regular all-beef hot dogs, you can get turkey dogs and vegetarian dogs. And Papaya King, located at 86th Street and Third Avenue on the Upper East Side just a few blocks from Central Park and “Museum Mile”, originally paired papaya juice with hot dogs as far back as 1932!). Martha Stewart called Papaya King’s ‘dogs her “guilty pleasure,” and even Julia Child said the historic hot dog purveyor served the best hot dogs in NYC.
Of course, one of New York City’s most famed July 4th traditions is the hot dog-eating contest at the Original Nathans’ Famous on Coney Island (in 2012, Joey Chestnut scarfed down 68 hot dogs — with buns! — in just 10 minutes). Though you can buy Nathan’s Famous hot dogs in supermarkets throughout the U.S., there’s nothing quite like enjoying one of the all-beef franks topped with chili, cheese or red onions right on the boardwalk of this historic amusement park on the Atlantic Ocean.
Elsewhere in Brooklyn, Bark Hot Dogs elevates the common wiener with toppings like cheddar, bacon and pickled onion, as well as baked heirloom beans with smoky pork. You can find Bark in Park Slope (474 Bergen Street) or on the Brooklyn waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Pier 6 (where you can even enjoy a local lager, ale or IPA with your ‘dog). There’s also a Bark outpost on the West Side’s new elevated park known as the High Line throughout the summer months.
When it comes to late night food, St. Marks Place in NYC’s Lower East Side is the mecca of cheap eats within stumbling distance of the city’s best bars and music venues. The local favorite is Crif Dog (located at 113 St. Marks Place), which serves its deep-fried wieners with an array of toppings, from Philly Cheesesteak-style cheese and onions, to fresh avocado and bacon.
And in 2012, there was no restaurant opening more anticipated than the NYC outpost of Vancouver-based Japadog, the Canadian hot dog phenom that pairs classic franks with Japanese-style sauces, meats and vegetables. (Anthony Bourdain also paid the famed hot dog cart a visit on his trip through southwest British Columbia). Try Japadog’s signature hotdog, which is topped with Teriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed make, or sample from the long list of gourmet dogs made with Japanese ingredients. (30 St. Marks Place).
What’s your favorite hot dog in NYC?