I’ve been asked many times by tourists and friends from California about the Hot Dogs in NY and which is the best. I’ll tell them first, the worst dogs to try are the dirty water dogs from any street vendor cart in the city. These are the ones that made the NY hot dog famous but they could be soaking in rat urine for weeks for all I know. If a vendor is not grilling the scum off them, they aren’t for me.
My favorite late night dogs in New York, because the only time I actually eat hot dogs are at someone’s bbq or when I’ve had a few pints in me, are the Crif Dogs on St. Marks between 1st and A. These guys are a late night establishment, more so since the LES Dash Dogs went down. They’re famous in my mind for wrapping their dogs in bacon and adding some great tasting toppings (eggs, salsa, avacado, sour cream, cole slaw, chili, Fritos etc.) Recently they’ve lost their liquor license so you can’t get PBRs with your “meal, but they will allow BYOB (liquor store is around the corner on A!). All I have to say is Good Morning and the Chihuahua with salsa baby!
So the NY classic street food wars are usually reserved for halal carts, taco stands, juice joints, and even Belgian waffles. NY’s hot dog history started with Nathan’s famous (Guidespot has a good review of many of the spots) but for my generation the dog wars started with the Papaya theme dog joints, and which spot is the best has been an on going debate for years.
There’s Papaya King (the original), Gray’s Papaya, Papaya Dog, and Chelsea Papaya (which apparently just shuttered with one of the King’s spots). I’ve later found out that all the joints (including Katz which has good dogs too) receive the same Sabrett dogs so it’s really comes down to how they cook it, the bun and toppings. I’ll say the King has the better papaya drink but Gray’s still takes the dog (and corn dogs!) of the four. Other than the Crif, I’ll take a Gray’s Papaya but I’m not one to go out of my way for hot dogs so I’m usually settling for a Papaya Dog, my 4th choice because of the stumbling convenience to my apt. Also Gray’s on 6th and W4th is stumbling blocks from my apt so it’s an apt spot to get off the A/C/C for a quick bite before turning in.
The filler above is lead-in for a story I wrote close to one year ago today but never posted it. Rather then back date this one, I thought it’d make for a good read:
It’s around 3:30 am. I know this because I got a missed text from a friend just 10 minutes earlier when checking to see if I was still in the bar. I’m a habitual Irish Goodbye type of person, so these are common late night.
I’m standing restless in a ridiculous line of hamburger fiends at my local hot dog stand, Papaya Dog. It’s inevitable some the line fills with drunks, and tonight’s no exception as two drunk goofs sashay in behind me.
I’m fiendishly waiting to yell out my order of recession special with onions as these two scoff at the bars they went to and excuse their own failures with women they can’t hook up with as “too many skanks” or “dumb bitches”. They wonder aloud, as I do in my head, when this line is going to move forward, faster…
Half way to the counter a black woman walks past us in a bright red leather Michael Jackson jacket from bad gear. She’s got a shaved head except for a black dyed mohawk, and it fans the grill chef as she spins her head around to make sure her order of more mustard for the dogs she bought earlier is all her friends need.
These two duchebags start making comments about monkeys and how a woman like that scored some kind of upgrade from the jungle attire she’s accustom too.
At first, I’m complacent with my silence. I just want to get my meat in tubes and bounce home.
In between their own complaints of not having a good bagels and cream cheese spot local, I start to notice the nuances of these two Jewish fuck’s comments about the locals around me. Their obviously not from the city limits but somewhere out on the Island.
One is obviously hammered by the sight of him, but his words seal that visual as each bitter jab come slurring out with spit, tongue and accent. The normally private conversation between the two, is obviously loud enough to be heard by the punk mustard chick, but I’m surprised she’s not reacting to the continued slurs of negra, monkey and hefty (like the trash bag).
I’m sick, not from the alcohol I’ve ingested all evening but now from these two fucks that think no one is obvious to them, yet they may be, it’s not like we are all sober and coherent here.
As we inch closer to the counter, my annoyance grows with my dog anticipation to the point I can’t take it any more and SNAP!!
“What the fuck!”
And they both run out with the yelling of “Fuck you!”…
I’m not sure if it was intentional or involuntary, but I had spun around quickly to tell these fucks to STFU when my elbow met one of them face high. Apparently at the same time I decided to spin, the drunker one was bending over to tie a shoe or eat some crumbs of the floor when the kinked point of my elbow smacked him full on in the face. Hard enough to to knock him back on his ass.
Now, it’s been over 10 years since I’ve been in a fight but and I’ve been much closer to fists than this, but my guard is up now. I did say anything except my exclamation but both somehow knew why I was reacting. It was like they were blabbing on, waiting for such a response but didn’t know what to do now that they got more than expected.
Apparently I popped this one’s nose and blood started gushing everywhere. On his shirt, shoes, the tile, his friends pants and hands… every where but on me. The more sober of the two started yelling and picked his friend up and kept walking out the door.
What a fucker… He deserved more but pussed out. I was prepared with shots of whiskey and pints of Stella to deal with his friend. As these two painted the floor red on the way out, I wanted to yell back, but just didn’t feel the need to rub it into their retreat.
I fucking hate racist assholes, especially those that feel they are entitled to their stature because of money, birth right or name…
Now. Where’s my Recession Special with onions!