Top (Hot) Dog
I'm a pizza guy first and a hamburger guy second but to complete the holy trinity I'd nominate Crif Dogs (an homage to Rutt's Hut in NJ which I haven't been to), Westville for Niman Ranch dogs, Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, Chelsea Papaya, etc., Big Daddy's Diner for a footlong, Old Town Bar, Nathan's Famous Coney Island location only, Sarge's, 2nd Avenue Deli (please reopen), Katz's, Hallo Berlin cart, Zum Schneider, Lederhosen, and Mandler's. I didn't like F&B and I doubt the Shake Shack's are any better than their disappointing burgers. The best? Tie between 2nd Avenue, Original Nathans, Katz's and Original Papaya King.
born in nyc but grew up in new jersey. the jersey-style "texas weiner" has to be the best hot dog on the planet. throw some chili and sliced onion onto these fried bad boys and you have the stuff of legend.
chowhound poster john fox, under many names, has written about hot dogs. they are his passion. strongly urge hot dog fans to check out his work.
re: steve h.
I, too, grew up and still live in N.J. I post under either my name (John Fox) or hotdoglover. I've been to New York more than a few times to sample hot dogs, most recently in late August with the Newark Star Ledger's Munchmobile S.W.A.T. Team. We went to Nathan's, Katz's, Crif's, Papaya King, and Gray's Papaya. All very good. Hard to say which is best. Crif's is a Rutt's Hut knockoff and does a pretty good imitation. They use the same Thumanns dog that is made for deep frying. They are the only place in N.Y. that uses this dog (North Jersey has dozens) and it may be an aquired taste. People either love or hate this dog. It is milder in flavor and less well seasoned than a kosher style dog packed with garlic and paprika that many New Yorkers grew up on. It is for this reason that Crifs also offers what they call a New Yorker. This is a Thumanns all beef natural casing dog that is slow cooked on a griddle rather than deep fried.
Nathan's serves a great natural casing all beef dog as does Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, and Katz's. The last three are all Sabrett dogs. Depending on your taste, you may prefer the spicing in the Nathan's dog, or else you will prefer the spicing in the other 3 which are identical. I like the spicing in the Sabrett dog a little better.
I've also been to F&B in Chelsea. It's been a number of years, but I thought the dogs were just ok. They use a Usinger's beef and pork frank for most of their dogs, or at least did when I went. A quality frank, but Usinger's all beef angus dog would have been a better choice in my opinion. The dogs are quickly flash fried rather than boiled or grilled.
I like the wide variety of hot dog styles that are available in N.J. As you stated, there is nothing like a jersey texas weiner. A North Jersey style Texas Weiner is a deep fried pork based dog topped with mustard, onions, and thin spicy chili sauce that contains nutmeg, cummin, cloves, and other aromatic spices. The Plainfield area Texas Weiner features a grilled, rather than deep fried dog (more often than not Grote & Weigel from Conn.) that is prepared on a griddle and topped with a thicker chili.
We also have Italian or "Newark Style" Hot Dogs which were introduced by Jim Raccioppi in Newark in 1932. Raccioppi founded Jimmy Buffs. An Italian Hot Dog is one or 2 (called a single or a double) all beef hot dogs (usually from Best's in Newark) that have been fried in oil and topped with peppers, onions, and potato slices and stuffed in a half moon of what is called Italian Pizza bread. This is bread that has been baked in a pizza oven that resembles a pita.
Jersey is famous for "dirty water" or boiled hot dogs. These are also popular in New York. Another style popular here is the grilled German style beef and pork dog. Found at the Galloping Hill Inn in Union, N.J. and at popular shore restaurants like Max's and the Windmill.
My favorite all beef dog is made by Best's Provisions in Newark. A great blend of spices, a perfect casing, and delicious flavor. There are a few places in New York that serve this dog, although I can't think of any in particular. There is a certain place in Chinatown that serves a quarter pound Best dog for a dollar! I heard of it somewhere in these forums. I like the 5 to a lb natural casing Best dog better than the quarter pounder. Longer and thinner, this particular dog can be found at Syd's in Springfield (recently moved from Union) and Jimmy Buff's East Hanover location. At Syd's, this dog is boiled then chargrilled. Picked as the best dog in the grilled category by the Star Ledger's Munchmobile team. At Jimmy Buff's, this dog is sauteed in oil and then finished off on a real charcoal grill. I like this dog even better and feel that it would have done well in the tasting if it was included. We went to 82 hot dog joints in Jersey and the 5 in New York. Since the tasting, Papaya King opened a location in Clifton, N.J. that is doing very well. The dog that came in second place to Syd's in the Grilled Category was Boulevard Drinks in Jersey City. They serve the same recipe dog as Papaya King, but in a smaller size. 12 to a lb, while Papaya King's is 10 to a lb. I'm glad that this location opened in Jersey as I prefer the slightly larger dogs (12 to a lb is too small) and there is plenty of parking at the Clifton Papaya King. Boulevard Drinks had no parking. Most of the time you have to park in a parking garage.
I haven't been to Westville, but have had the Niman Ranch hot dog. It is all beef with a unique spice profile. A good dog to be sure, but not worth the high price in my opinion. Unless organic and hormone free mean something to you. I had a Niman Ranch dog, a Lobel's dog, and a Nathan's side by side a few years back. Lobel's is also a quality dog made from prime beef and costing $14.99 per pound. I preferred the Nathan's natural casing dog. If you happen to like Lobel's, I would suggest Boars Head all beef natural casing hot dogs. Similar in flavor to Lobel's, but much less expensive. About $5.00 per pound.
Hotdoglover-you are to hot dogs what I am to pizza. I bow to your knowledge. And yes, i've had a NJ Italian dog and loved it at a place on the Delaware River called Dilly's. The Dilly dog is a huge sausage like hot dog on a torpedo roll smothered in fried,onions, peppers and greasy fires. mm mm good. Ever been there?
Im partial to the carts on the street for hot dogs myself. I never feel the trip or effort to go out to any of the hot dog places are worth it when I can grab one on the corner of most blocks.
However, I sometimes get cravings for the Good Morning (bacon-wrapped hot dog with a fried egg and cheese) and an order of cheese-covered tater tots from Krif Dogs.
Recently went to Super Duper Weenie in Ct. Too many toppings but great name and T-Shirt. Mrs. GG my hot dog loving daughter hated Crif Dogs. They both like Nathan's and Papaya King best.
Try the Kobe Beef hot dog with sauted onions and truffle peach mustard at Nightlife in Night Hotel. Really good!