The best hot dogs are the ultimate comfort food, calling to mind long-ago family picnics and cookouts. As kids, we craved simple ketchup-squiggled wieners, but these days, we embrace the bolder dogs being served up by the city’s restauranteurs: think Spanish-style, heaped with BBQ, and even vegetarian. Whether you’re on the boardwalk or the LES, our guide will lead you to the best hot dogs in NYC.
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Best hot dogs in NYC
The iconic eats at this legendary Lower East Side deli counter have always been of the no-frills sort, from the hulking piles of peppery pastrami to the Swiss-and-sauerkraut rueben. The hot dog is no exception: The all-beef frankfurter is seasoned deeply with garlic, salt and paprika beneath its firm, lightly charred natural casing. A traditional topper of zesty golden mustard and tangy kraut adds some bright acidity inside a soft, humble split bun. $3.95.
Tourists and tube-steak zealots make the trek to this Brooklyn landmark for a taste of hot-dog history. Established in 1916, the former 5¢ stand still does a roaring trade. The bun is flimsy, but in the end, it's just a vehicle for the chain-spawning wiener, which has a tight casing that gives way to a juicy interior. $3.99.
The stoner-friendly offerings at Crif Dogs include this perennial top-seller, featuring a bacon-wrapped dog, chili, coleslaw and pickled jalapeños. The crunch of deep-fried bacon gives way to a soft interior, and the mild chili sauce soaks into the bun, giving each bite an extra hit of meaty flavor. $4.75.
The beer-loving Brooklyn butchers know their way around, ahem, meat, a fact proven in their carne-heavy menu of house-made charcuterie, terrines and, yes, hot dogs. The house tube steaks arrive as a pair and are served “tiger style”: the all-beef franks are topped with spicy tripe chili, a scattering of scallions and plenty of Chinese mustard on a squishy bun. You’re lucky they come in twos, because you’ll seriously want another one. $15.
A pair of classic comfort foods—hot dogs and mac and cheese—join forces to create this tasty monstrosity. Each order comes with two Sabrett dogs tucked into potato rolls and covered by a generous helping of mac and cheese, made with a gooey blend of Parmesan, Gruyère and American cheeses. The whole thing’s served atop a mound of fries. $12.
This nouveau Jewish deli is best known for bringing Montreal-style smoked meat to the city, but it also makes its mark on a New York classic with its from-scratch hot dog. The griddled all-beef frank and the tangy sauerkraut are made in-house, while the thick, poppy-seed-studded bun is courtesy of Hot Bread Kitchen. Weekday lunchers can get the dog solo; at night, it comes with pickle relish. Hot dog $8, dinner dog $9.
Phillip Kirschen-Clark (formerly of Vandaag) is the latest boldfaced-name toque to make his mark on this cocktail den's haute-dog menu. His Scandinavian-inflected creation is built around an all-beef wiener that's been pickled in apple cider vinegar. The tangy frank is balanced by coriander-scented sauerkraut, mustard greens and piccalilli (an English-style relish). $6.
Josh Sharkey is a trailblazer in the artisanal-wiener boom, and the simple Classic is the best showcase of his secret weapon: a snappy beef-and-pork dog made in Rochester, NY. Griddled, basted in smoked lard butter and nestled into a Pepperidge Farm bun, it doesn't need any extra flourishes to shine. $4.25.
This flea-market star opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in 2011, hawking Asian-inflected franks. The most successful of the bunch is the Vinh, which gives a Schaller & Weber wiener the banh mi treatment: The bun is smeared with pâté on one side and sriracha aioli on the other, then topped with a flurry of cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, diced jalapeños and cilantro. $4.50, two for $8.
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Escape the frigid temperatures and icy conditions in Manhattan for a taste of a warmer locale: Brazilian food from Zebu Grill on the Upper East Side. Pair Brazil’s national cocktail, the citrusy caipirinha, with a typical bar snack of crispy hand pies called pastel filled with beef, chicken or cheese ($8.95 for three). For a heartier meal, dig into feijoada, a black bean stew with beef, pork and sausages served over rice ($25.95) or go all out with churrasco for two ($49.95). The sizzling platter filled with steak, chicken and sausage arrives with rice and beans. If you need more food, try a side of yucca fries ($6) or collard greens ($6). Looking for something sweet to finish the meal? You might be tempted by the passion fruit brulee topped with caramelized bananas ($8.95).
Venue says: “Delicious Brazilian cuisine on the Upper East Side in a hip atmosphere!”