Top 5 Hot Dog Choices in NYC

Hot Dogs

by Jon Malmberg

In a city that is filled with 'take out' and street food - and food from all over the world at that - there are still some offerings that stand out as perennial go tos, especially for the locals. And one of those is the seemingly humble hot dog.

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To a newcomer to NYC, it might seem that they are offered on every other block and indeed they almost are.

Still there are certain establishments that offer near iconic bun wrapped offerings rather than simple dirty water dogs.

Here are our picks of the very best of them.

Nathans Famous

Nathan Famous NYC

New York City and Nathan's Famous are synonymous with one another even though the brand went nationwide decades ago.

And a trip to the original restaurant in Coney Island is still something of a pilgrimage for locals and tourists alike.

The quality of the dogs really has not wavered since Nathan Handwerker opened his first hot dog stand there back in 1916 and there is still nothing quite like tucking into a $2.50 all-beef Nathan's hot dog with all the toppings and a side of chunky crinkle fries smothered in cheese for the true hot dog aficionado.

Nathan's operates locations all over the five boroughs but if you want to visit the birthplace of the chain it's located at 1310 Surf Ave between Stillwell Ave and Schweikert's Walk in Coney Island.

Gray's Papaya

Gary's Papaya NYC

Once an iconic Big Apple chain, there is, sadly, only one physical Gray's location still in business, up on the Upper West Side at 72nd Street.

On the upside the chain has reinvented itself as a food truck phenomenon and so those who crave one of Gray's famed Recession Specials - currently $4.50 for two dogs and a 14-ounce drink - do not necessarily have to trek uptown to do so.

What's so special about the dogs? To be honest, you have to taste one to find out but suffice to say their long thin meatiness is more than memorable, as is this slightly mysterious papaya drink that should accompany it for the full Gray's experience.

Gray's Papaya is located at 2090 Broadway between 72nd and 73rd Streets on the Upper West Side or you can track their food truck via its Twitter account at @PapayaKingTruck

Shake Shack

Shake Shack NYC

Before Shake Shack ever became the burger chain of choice for a huge number of New Yorkers it was, in fact, nothing but a humble hot dog cart. And that was a cart, not even a full stand.

Times have indeed changed, but the hotdogs that helped build the brand still exist for those willing to forgo the delights of a double pattied Shack Burger and excellent they are too.

The hot dogs come split in half and smothered with toppings of many kinds. The Dogmeister is particularly good as it is a tasty combination of beef hot dog, cheddar and American cheeses, mustard, ketchup, relish and onions.

You can also choose to go for a slightly leaner hot dog and opt for the Chicken Dog which has a light, sage-tinged flavour that is rather delightful.

Shake Shack boasts locations all across New York City.

Asia Dog

Asia Dog NYC

Asia Dog also got its start on the streets of New York, but it now boasts a Kenmare Street storefront that is increasing in popularity daily. After choosing from the generously sized beef, chicken or vegetation dog options patrons get to discover what really makes Asia Dog special once the toppings start going on.

Standout choices include The Mash, a topping combination of ketchup, jalapeno mustard crushed salt and pepper potato chips and The Chinese BBQ which is pork belly with seaweed flakes and pickled daikon.

Asia Dog is located at 66 Kenmare Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets

Crif Dogs

Crif Dogs NYC

Crif Dogs are masters at gilding the lily that is the classic hot dog but in a rather wonderful way.

The Crif Dog difference begins with the frank itself; it's bacon wrapped and deep fried. This may be enough for some, but it's once you start picking your toppings that things can get deliciously crazy.

Opt for the Jon-Jon Deragon and you'll get cream cheese, scallions, and everything bagel seeds. Ask for Tsunami and it will be topped with teriyaki, pineapple, and green onions. You can even opt for a Breakfast Dog, which adds fried egg and melted cheese into the mix. Or, for the truly brave the Spicy Red Neck is a combination of hot dog, beef chili, jalapenos and coleslaw that will keep you warm for hours.

Crif Dogs has two locations in the city: 113 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A and 555 Driggs Ave between North 6th and 7th Streets in Brooklyn.

So now you know where to find the most delicious hot dogs in NYC.