Best Gourmet hot dogs in NYC
For my 5 year anniversary this weekend, I am surprising my better half with a search for the best NYC has to offer of his favorite thing - hot dogs. I'm not looking for the best dirty water dog in the city though. His favorite spot in our home town has a list of 20 dogs with all different delicious toppings all served on french bread. Everything from the standard Chicago or chili dog to the Greek stray - a crispy grilled Zweigel's dog on french bread topped w/ feta, tzazihki sauce, cucumbers, onions. My mouth is watering just thinking about it...
Don't get me wrong, there are some good cart dog's out there, but I'm looking for something really special. Any suggestions?
Well, if it was my anniversary and I had to pick a place in New York instead of New Jersey (which would be my first choice for great dogs), I'd go with Papaya King. I like a tasty natural casing dog prepared well and unencumbered with toppings that to me mask, rather than complement the actual frankfurter.
But since your better half seems to prefer a place that puts the emphasis on the toppings rather than the dog, and it happens to be his rather than my anniversary, let me suggest 3. Crif's, as mentioned has a wide variety of toppings and serves a somewhat unique dog that is made for deep frying. It's a special recipe dog from Thumann's in N.J. A milder pork based dog that tastes fine on it's own, but goes well with toppings. And there are many at Crif's. Let me tell you that Crif's is a knockoff of the famous Rutt's Hut in N.J. One of the owners admitted this to me. If your guy prefers a more well seasoned beef dog and/or prefers it to be grilled rather than fried, ask for the New Yorker at Crif's. It is a natural casing Thumann's all beef dog that is similar in style to Papaya King or Nathan's.
Another choice would be F&B in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. It's been about 7 years since I've been there, but from what I remember they serve a few different brands of dogs including the famous Usinger's from Milwaukee. The dogs are quickly flash fried. There are many toppings and combinations as well. It''s more of a European themed place. They serve a Danish style Polser dog, which was very good and spicy. Cucumbers, remoulade (sp), frizzled onions, and something I can't remember go on this dog.
The third place (and my first choice for your better half) would be Bark in Brooklyn. Only open a few months, one of the owners is a chef and specializes in homemade toppings. The sauerkraut is extraordinary. As I mentioned, I'm not big on toppings preferring rather to focus on the frank. The frank here is a top quality Hartmann's German style wiener from upstate (Canandaigua) New York. It is the best (in my opinion) of the franks offered at the 3 places named. In fact it is one of my two favorite German style (beef/pork) dogs that I've sampled. And I've had dozens. My other favorite is Thumann's. But the Thumann's I like is their beef and pork griller, which unfortunately is not available at Crifs.
If you want to go for something really special for your anniversary, let me suggest that you make the trip across the river into Jersey. I'll be more than happy to give you some suggestions.
Definitely agree with Crif Dogs; especially the recommendation to go into the "speakeasy" PDT, which has some delicious cocktails to go along with those dogs and tots, as well as 3 or 4 dogs not on the regular Crifs menu (Wiley Dog, Chang Dog, etc).
You can call and make a res at PDT; just google the number, I believe the line opens at 3.
When it comes to creative hot dogs, I would say Crif Dogs wins hands down simply for the range of options and the quality of the final product (though I have heard good things about Bark in Park Slope, as well). There is not much in the way of atmosphere you may want to have your meal with cocktails in PDT which is accessible via the restaurant.