The Hottest Dogs of 4th of July
Published July 2, 2009
The hot dog, the glorious little frankfurter, has joint emotional and economic appeal—it’s simple, nostalgic, cheap. Like a cupcake, it’s a one-person affair, a portable, compact foodstuff that, for only a couple dollars, lets you take a bite of Americana. Dan Barry of the New York Times recently commented on the “democratic charm of the hot dog,” which the White House plans to serve at its July 4th festivities.
Of course, like most authentic American specialties, the hot dog’s originates somewhere else. Just look at the etymology of ‘frankfurter’ from Frankfurt, Germany where sausages reign. It’s been said that hot dogs first came to the United States by a fellow named Charles Feltman in Coney Island whose employee, Nathan Handwerker, started selling the same product for less money and dubbed himself famous-flash forward quite a few decades and Nathan’s Famous just might be, well, the most famous hot dog stateside. It’s also (in)famous for its annual Hot Dog Eating Competition, where chomping athletes eat dozens and dozens of dogs in ten minutes.
To celebrate America’s independence, take a bite of one of these, many of which have cute web sites:
SUPERDAWG, Chicago’s best hot dog on a poppy seed bun with all the fixings (including piccalilli and a hot pepper). (6363 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago)
LET’S BE FRANK, hot dogs with all the buzzwords—artisinal, pasture-raisied, local, etc. And they’re good to boot. (carts in Los Angeles and San Francisco)
WALTER’S, where Westchester lays claim to one of the country’s best hot dogs-split, griddled, and topped with a housemade mustard and relish mixture. Plus it’s in an old pagoda where the lines have stretched down the street since 1919. (937 Palmer Avenue Mamaroneck, NY)
GRAY’S PAPAYA, the New York classic (the one on West 72nd Street is arguably the best), where you can go for the not-so-ironic-anymore Recession Special.(multiple locations, NY, including 2090 Broadway)
CRIF DOGS, where you can get a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog adorned with avocado, cheese, and sour cream because…why not? (113 St. Mark’s Place, NY)
PDT, accessible through the phone booth at Crif Dogs, where you can order exclusive dogs named for local chefs who drink here. The favored are the David Chang, of the never-ever-mentioned Momofuku empire, is a bacon-wrapped dog topped with red kimchi and also the Wylie Dufrense dog that’s dressed with tomato molasses and fried mayonnaise (yes, fried mayonnaise). (113 St. Mark’s Place, NY)
RUSTY KNOT, where the pretzel dog marries New York’s top two street foods. (425 West Street, NY)
DOGMATIC DOGS, the sleek, small fast-food joint where you can get European-style hot dogs, served in a hollowed-out baguette instead of a bun. (26 E. 17th Street, NYC)
DBGB, from Daniel Boulud, who was among the first to elevate the hamburger, comes a homemade hot dog in a homemade bun with inventive toppings. (299 Bowery, NY)
BLAUE GANS, where (handsome) chef Kurt Gutenbrunner’s sophisticated and authentic selection of wursts makes eating a frankfurter feel nearly sexy. (139 Duane Street, NY)
SHAKE SHACK, where Danny Meyer’s Chicago-style hot dog includes a special blend from Rick’s Picks. (multiple locations, NY)
ON YOUR OWN BBQ, because cooking hot dogs is just a matter of heating them up. Check out Danny Meyer’s recent taste-test, where Hebrew National scored well.
AND FOR A LITTLE WHIMSY…
Check out the FRENCH FRY ENCRUSTED HOT DOGS that are all the rage in Korea.
And the CORN DOG AIR FRESHENER from Archie McPhee, the business with the best tagline ever: ‘Slightly Less Disappointing than Other Companies!”
And the most CLASSIC DACHSHUND COSTUME EVER that never gets old.