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Crif's - meh?

nooyawka Jun 25, 2010 12:50 PM

Tried it last night for the first time. Had a New Yorker plain (on purpose for taste testing). Tasted just like Gray's. Thought the dog was bit too slim for the bun. (Have they shrunk over the years?) I'd still give edge to Nathans for NYC dogs. However, I don't think any of the foregoing are anything to write home about. Didn't think the NYer was worth the $2.50. Thing is...my personal preference is for boiled, not grilled, so that makes a big difference at the outset. But I can't even get a decent Sabrett's nowadays at the street vendors. They're always soft, not snappy anymore. My recipe nowadays for best hotdog is Boar's Head or Hebrew with natural casing on a Sunbeam hotdog roll with Hunt's ketchup and Sabrett's pushcart style onions (from a jar).

  1. k
    kariface Jun 26, 2010 04:05 PM

    I've always thought of Crif's as a place to go when drunk/high, or to eat some crazy combinations. Just last night I had my favorite one, the Deragon. I don't consider Crifs to be in the same league or even able to be compared to Nathan's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kariface
      hotdoglover Jul 22, 2010 03:19 AM

      The deep fried dog at Crif's may be an aquired taste. As mentioned in the above referenced thread, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6901...
      Crif's is a knockoff of Rutt's Hut. And in my opinion they do a good job. You have to remember that comparing a mostly pork based dog to Nathan's or Papaya King is like comparing apples and oranges. The last 2 are beef dogs that are more well seasoned. There is no garlic or paprika in a Crif's dog. And the cooking methods are different.

      It seems that people who prefer a milder pork based dog consider Nathan's or Papaya King to be too spicy/garlicky. Those who prefer a spicy beef dog would say a Crif Dog or another pork/beef dog to be bland. I happen to like both styles.

      A few years ago I went with a panel of 8 people on a summer long hot dog excursion. We visited and reviewed 87 different hot dog establishments for a New Jersey newspaper. All Jersey hot dogs except for one trip where we went to New York. We visited Nathan's, Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, Katz's, and Crif's. Everyone on the panel had been to and liked Rutt's Hut so it was no surprise that 6 out of 8 picked Crif's as the best dog of the day. I preferred one of the beef dogs on that particular day.

      Crif Dogs
      113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

      Gray's Papaya
      539 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018

      Papaya King
      179 E 86th St, New York, NY 10028

      1. re: hotdoglover
        nooyawka Jul 22, 2010 08:21 AM

        Thanks, hotdoglover! It's always quite an education to read one of your posts. You're right on the apples and oranges. I've come to realize that I'm a beef dog lover. In addition, for me, the snappy skin is also as someone on another thread mentioned, a "non-negotiable" item.

        But I'm glad that the additions and toppings offered at Crif Dogs and other similar joints can give happiness to so many people. I guess that's what makes the world go 'round...

        Crif Dogs
        113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

    2. b
      Blackbird Jun 25, 2010 09:28 PM

      My husband has been raving about Crif's hotdogs for a while and we just had a couple last weekend. I give them a solid meh rating. The flavors were decent, but I definitely expected more snap and I agree that they seemed a bit skimpy.

      1. Jess321 Jun 25, 2010 04:35 PM

        I'm a big fan of the Tsunami and the Chihuahua, but they're both made with Crif, not NY, dogs. Once, I tried one of them with an NY dog as a substitute, and it just wasn't as good. The crif dog makes it-it's probably the pork and beef mixture vs. just the beef.

        It would definitely not be the place to get just a plain dog, unless you need to scarf something before going into PDT (though they do have their own "special" menu of dogs not featured on the menu in the restaurant)!

        1. e
          ESNY Jun 25, 2010 03:20 PM

          You lost me at boiled with ketchup

          6 Replies
          1. re: ESNY
            nooyawka Jun 25, 2010 03:46 PM

            I know....ketchup on a hot dog is a sacrilege and laughable for a lotta folks. I've always been contrarian. Never understood the "mustard & kraut" thing (I'm a lifelong New Yorker, I might add). I'm at the age (fortunately, or not) where I'm secure enough to come out of the closet on my ketchupy predilections. :)

            1. re: nooyawka
              Motosport Jun 25, 2010 09:10 PM

              and Hunts Catsup?? Not Heinz?? I hope you don't put Miracle Whip on your pastrami on white bread!!

              1. re: nooyawka
                ESNY Jun 26, 2010 08:46 AM

                I'm anti-kraut too. Just give me a dog with mustard.

                Crif dogs excels with their fried dog and I view the inclusion of the New Yorker sort of in the same vein as the fish at Peter Luger. Their plain fried dog is good although not as good as Rutt's Hut which they are emulating. You get a great snap and flavor from the frying. I generally stick with the regular fried dog and not the more dressed up things on the menu.

                1. re: ESNY
                  princeofpork Jun 26, 2010 08:51 AM

                  I love Rutts Hut. When I worked in Clifton we went there all the time. You have to check out the attached pic. I took it at Rutts Hut after I ordered lunch. Look at the colors contrast betwen the dogs, chili, cheese and Mountain Dew. Pure Art.

                  1. re: princeofpork
                    ESNY Jun 26, 2010 09:38 AM

                    Every time I find myself in NJ, my car just seems to drive itself to Rutt's Hut for 2 rippers and a Dew.

                    1. re: ESNY
                      princeofpork Jun 26, 2010 04:33 PM

                      DOnt sleep on the Chili. Its excellent

            2. Motosport Jun 25, 2010 01:37 PM

              Ketchup on a NY hot dog! OY MY god!! Mustard, Kraut and maybe relish is NY style.
              I.M.H.O. of course.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Motosport
                flower_puppy Jun 26, 2010 01:59 PM

                I'm shocked! I always thought NY style was "the works" - ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, and that onion stuff if they've got it. Relish is exotic but mighty tasty if available.

              2. u
                uwsister Jun 25, 2010 01:34 PM

                I personally like Crif Dogs and several of their combinations (Spicy Redneck, Chihuahua, etc.) not to mention their cheesy tots! Perfect after-hours food. But I've never gotten their plain dogs so I can understand where you're coming from.

                5 Replies
                1. re: uwsister
                  nooyawka Jun 25, 2010 03:41 PM

                  Tots!? How'd I miss that?! Now, that definitely merits a quick follow-up visit...

                  1. re: nooyawka
                    uwsister Jun 25, 2010 05:18 PM

                    Oh yeah, those tots are at least 40% reason why I go to Crif Dogs. Maybe higher.

                    1. re: uwsister
                      nooyawka Jul 21, 2010 07:33 PM

                      Okay, I'm back. I revisited Crif Dogs about 3 week ago, so this report is somewhat late. I tried the Crif Dog (again plain), and absolutely was UNDERwhelmed by it. No snap to the skin and the flavor reminded my of an Oscar Meyer weiner. And I had the tater tots. While they were the traditional style (ie, the kind I had as a kid), they were soaked in grease. I could barely eat them even after dousing them with ketchup. I'm sorry to say I think Crif Dogs is just not my cup of tea.

                      Crif Dogs
                      113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                      1. re: nooyawka
                        uwsister Jul 21, 2010 07:55 PM

                        Hmm. I never found their tater tots to be particularly greasy - but then again I can't remember the last time I was there sober. Sorry that you didn't have a good experience!

                        1. re: uwsister
                          nooyawka Jul 21, 2010 08:00 PM

                          Ha! That's the key - first ingest beer, then hot dog. I had it all backwards :)

                2. k
                  kathryn Jun 25, 2010 01:04 PM

                  The New Yorker at Crif Dogs (singular, no possessive) is actually supposed to be a copy of a Gray's style hot dog: all beef hot dog, grilled. The rest of the menu actually uses a different hot dog (pork & beef) and the franks are deep-fried.

                  I wouldn't dismiss Crif until you try a Crif pork & beef dog (instead of all beef) that is deep-fried (sans batter). If you want a plain one just order the "Crif Dog" to get the purest experience for your taste test.


                  Crif Dogs
                  113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kathryn
                    nooyawka Jun 25, 2010 03:40 PM

                    Thanks, kathryn. I'll give it one more shot when I'm in the nabe.

                    (By the way, the possessive was on purpose because I shortened it. I also truncated the other names. I'm finding a lot of CH comments show up prominently on Google searches - not sure I'm entirely comfortable having my opinion - now, more carefully crafted to be sure - ending up on the internets thing for the world to see, rather than the relative safety of fellow CHers.)

                    1. re: nooyawka
                      kathryn Jun 25, 2010 04:29 PM

                      Do report back when you get a chance.

                      The negative aspect of using a slightly different name is that fellow CHers won't be able to find your post when they search. And the Places feature won't work either.

                  2. princeofpork Jun 25, 2010 12:56 PM

                    Ketchup and onions vs mustart and kraut. Now there is a great debate. I prefer the potato roll the best. And who came up with the top split bun? I hate that.

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