The Best Hot Dogs in NYC, from Old-School Staples to Fancy-Pants Franks
In most places, hot dogs are synonymous with summer: ball games, barbecues, beach boardwalks. But in New York, they’re as much a year-round city essential as bagels and pizza. (We have an annual eating contest dedicated to them, for Pete’s sake.) Here, a beef brief primer on the city’s best.
These iconic spots are classic for a reason. Gray’s Papaya has been giving New Yorkers their frank fix at its flagship location on 72nd and Broadway since 1973. Order the Recession Special: two franks and a drink (we’re partial to the fizzy coconut “Champagne”) for $6.45. LES institution Katz’s Delicatessen serves an all-beef dog that rivals its famous pastrami. These two made the top ten in The Daily Meal’s list of the best hot dogs in America, along with Feltman’s, a newer arrival with a blink-and-you-might-miss-it window on St. Marks and awalk-up counter in Coney Island. (It’s named for the German-American baker who may have first pioneered the frankfurter-on-a-bun combo back in 1867.) You can’t go wrong with the classic on a tasty potato bun, but the Italian-inspired Al Capone, topped with vodka sauce and shredded Parm, is a mash-up we can get behind.
Get A Burger On The Side
“Burger or hot dog?” may be the toughest decision of every backyard barbecue, but these burger joints make a strong case for getting one of each. Jackson Heights’ Emoji Burger serves an array of franks, including the Angry Dog, a beef dog covered in mozzarella, shredded chicken, onions, potato chips and aioli. Moo Burger’s Moo Dog, with pulled pork and coleslaw, will make you forget burgers are even available. And believe it or not, NYC’s favorite fast(ish) food option, Shake Shack, originally started out as a hot-dog stand in 2001. It may have expanded its menu and its reach, but the chain still makes a mean flat-top dog (split before it’s griddled—and great topped with Shack cheese sauce).
Sure, we could eat a street-cart frank one-handed while dodging tourists on Seventh Avenue, but that doesn’t mean the humble dog isn’t suitable for a classy sit-down meal. Meat-centric eatery The Cannibal proves how classy hot dogs can be with its “tiger-style” version, covered in spicy chili, cilantro and crispy shallots. At Tørst, the Danish beer haven in Greenpoint, the Meat Hook Dog (with pimento cheese, relish and mustard caviar on a brioche bun) proves a worthy companion to its high-end craft brews. Out for a cocktail at The NoMad Bar? Grab the Humm Dog. Wrapped in bacon and topped with black truffle and celery, it’s well worth its $16 price tag.
Franks From Around The Globe
NYC’s eclectic, international food landscape has gone to the dogs, apparently. You’ll find proof at Los Perros de Chucho, a Colombian eatery in LIC, in the form of the Perro Hawaiano, topped with ham, cheese, bacon, pineapple, potato chips and an egg. At Empellón Al Pastor, skip the tacos in favor of a corn dog with huitlacoche (a delicacy sometimes known as the Mexican truffle). And finally, Perros y Vainas serves Venezuelan hot dogs with traditional Venezuelan salsas (like guasacaca, aka avocado salsa). Plus, proceeds benefit Venezuelan children—a great reason to buy a hot dog or five.
It wouldn’t be a complete list without mentioning Crif Dogs, the perpetually packed site of many a late-night snack. From the Jon Jon Deragon (with cream cheese, scallions and everything-bagel spice) to the Spicy Redneck (bacon-wrapped with chili, coleslaw and jalapeños), the creative menu shows that a good hot dog can pull off all manner of toppings. Bonus: Any menu item can be made with a veggie dog that many swear is better than the real thing.