The food world is abuzz with anticipation of Joey Chestnut and the 97th annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest which takes place tomorrow. Although we love a good frank here at GVSHP, no one on staff can throw them back quite at that level. To make up for our lack of eating competition skills, we decided to highlight a couple Village spots where the rest of us can get our hot dog on this Independence Day!
Let’s start in the East Village with one of my personal favorites- Crif Dogs (warning: if you click that link you will be serenaded by a dancing hot dog). Located at 113 St. Mark’s Place, this neighborhood institution has been serving up the dogs since 2001. According to their website, “In 1999, Brian Shebairo and childhood pal Chris Antista hashed out a plan to serve hotdogs in the alley behind Lansky Lounge, a (now closed) speakeasy that Chris operated in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. They grew up in New Jersey eating at Johnny & Hanges, Callahan’s, Hiram’s, Rutt’s Hut, Nathan’s and Walter’s. On October 6, 2001, after two years of research and development (riding their motorcycles throughout the northeast to sample hot dogs as far as the Windmill in South Jersey and the Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, CN) Brian and Chris opened Crif Dogs, a name they came up with when Brian tried to say his former partner’s name with a hot dog in his mouth.”
The secret to these mouth watering wieners is that they are deep fried. Their inventive riffs on the classic hot dog include: the Morning Jersey, a taylor ham wrapped house dog with melted cheese and an egg; the Chihuahua, a bacon wrapped dog covered with avocados and sour cream; and the Spicy Red Neck, a house dog, bacon wrapped, with chili, coleslaw, and jalapenos. Aside from these tasty delicacies, you might know Crif Dogs for its adjacent speak easy, PDT. Accessed through a telephone booth in the “hot dog joint,” the exclusivity of PDT and its world famous cocktails make Crif Dogs even more of a destination.
Now let’s move over to the West Village to Gray’s Papaya, a New York City institution since 1973, located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 8th Street. This mini-chain was started by Nicholas Gray, a former partner in the larger chain Papaya King. Papaya is part of the title because the chains are also well known for their papaya juices. Gray’s serves up classic Sabretts and has been featured all over the pop culture sphere from the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie You’ve Got Mail to Anthony Bourdain’s food/travel show No Reservations. If you’re going to drop the $1.50 for a Gray’s Papaya hot dog, though, you must eat it standing at the window counter.
Have your own favorite hot dog spot? Let us know so we can try it out!