Tracy's New York Life | A Blog About Life in New York City: NYC Hot Dogs: Not Your Typical Frank

Thursday, July 25, 2013

NYC Hot Dogs: Not Your Typical Frank

THE TWENTY-SOMETHING FOODIE
by Melissa Kravitz


NYC's Typical Hot Dog Vendor -- credit

To many, New York City’s iconic street food is the hot dog.  The steaming hot frank – boiled on a street cart and wheeled around on hot metal rollers at a baseball game, or perhaps tossed in a basket while you're waiting in a rowdy line at Nathan’s on Coney Island – holds nostalgia for New Yorkers and tourists alike.  

In the 1860s, German immigrants sold the frankfurters (which originated in Frankfurt, Germany) from pushcarts in Lower Manhattan, for three cents each, or two for five cents. As the popularity of the meat sandwiches in fluffy buns increased, sporting events and street vendors throughout the city began selling the dachshund-like food; hence the name, "hot dog." 

Recent food and eating trends have changed the caliber and taste of the NYC hot dog, and there’s much more to explore in the way of dogs than the average processed meat tube on a bun. With gourmet street trucks popping up in all five boroughs, the hot dog has become a featured menu item, if not the highlight of menus, at many highly-acclaimed restaurants, demonstrating a blurring of street food and high quality cuisine.   While there are truly endless options for hot dogs in NYC – they've begun popping up on the most random of menus and bar plates – there are some gourmet NYC hot dog shops that stand out from the rest.

Asiadog (not to be confused with Japadog, its significantly less delicious, but cheaper unrelated spin-off cousin) offers a menu full of hot dogs sporting toppings inspired by Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisines, many fused together to create a entirely new cuisine. Better yet, the shop and its accompanying food cart offer a variety of hot dog types – beef, organic beef, chicken, and veggie – even vegans can enjoy the diverse menu. Toppings range from homemade kimchi, Japanese curry, or even jalapeño mustard, and can be mixed and matched for even more creative eats. ($8 for 2 hot dogs)  

A variety of Asia Dog Options-- credit


In a similar vein, Los Perros Locos uses Latin and Southwestern cuisine, creating hot dog toppings that would never touch the top of a cart in Central Park. Though veggie dogs and chorizo come at an extra charge, this innovative and chic-looking Lower East Side hot dog shop transforms the street food into a gourmet and desirable commodity. Toppings range from crushed spicy Doritos or Fritos, melted mozzarella, deep fried bacon, macaroni and cheese, and, of course, fresh salsas.  ($3-8 per hot dog)


A variety of menu options at Los Perros Locos -- credit

Since 1932, Papaya King's tropical flare and classic flavors make the flashy hot dog eatery stand out from NYC hot dog vendors. The pride they take in their product, both meat and veggie dogs available, combined with the celebrity adoration they ostentatiously boast about in stores (Anthony Bourdain! Julia Child! Martha Stewart!) certainly distinguish the food.  Toppings range from sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppers, chili and cheese, breakfast franks feature eggs and cheese, but the tropical drink pairings truly make Papaya King different.  (Gray's Papaya and Papaya dog are close runner-ups.) ($3-5 per hot dog)

Gray's Papaya holds a different kind of fame from Papaya King-- the classic 72nd Street location has been spotted in various iconic New York TV shows, from Sex and the City to How I Met Your Mother. Though the product is known to be of higher quality than street vendors, the biggest appeal comes from the fact that it's open 24 hours a day. Celebrities and lonely night wanderers alike head to Gray's to get their specific fix – the all-beef frank with kraut and special sauce along with a papaya juice.  ($1.95 per hot dog)  Or, try the "Recession Special," now $4.95 for two dogs and a drink.



Gray's Papaya offers two hot dogs and a drink, also called the "Recession Special."

Crif Dogs, "The King of House Dogs", takes classic American flavors and combines them in standout new creations that redefine a classic.  Beef and pork or veggie dogs are customizable in a endless variations, or menu options pre-suggest delicious combinations, such as the Tsunami: a hot dog wrapped in bacon, topped with teriyaki sauce, scallions and pineapple, or the Temptee dog, which features cream cheese. Over 20 fruits, vegetables, sauces, and spreads are available to amp up your hot dog. ($2.75-4.75 per hot dog)


Crif Dogs' Tsunami.  -- credit

In a city where hot dogs are now rated on Zagat, there are more than enough options to redefine the street food classic.  While they may cost more than 99 cents, these improvements and culinary extrapolations on the notoriously cheap meal redefine the hot dog and put it back on an exciting culinary map



2 comments:

Phil Holtberg said...

Love this post! So glad you rated Papaya King a bit above the others. I live by it on the UES and drop in for a great dog now and then.

Crif Dogs is a guilty pleasure. NYC and hot dogs go hand in hand!

Phil
www.blog.theregularguynyc.com

tracy kaler said...

I am a huge fan of Gray's Papaya. I love their recession special!

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