Nathan’s Cart: Plaza Hotel

If you can’t cook a good weenie in a cart, you can’t cook a good weenie. Put that cart outside of the Plaza Hotel and you’re putting yourself in the upper echelon of weenie carts. Put a Nathan’s name on it and if you fail, there will be serious consequences. I’m talking about the kind of consequences Nalgene would have faced if I was able to break one of their stupid BPA free plastic bottles. Believe me I tried. The point I’m trying to make is if you put a Nathan’s cart outside of a regal, ornate, some would even say elegant, place like the Plaza, on the southwest corner of Central Park, on the world’s greatest island, Manhattan… it better be pretty damn good.

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Now, weenie fans, take a look at the picture above. At the north and south poles of the sausages pictured, please focus in on the very tip. Just the tip. You may notice that there is a small knobby ending on the sausages. This is an indication of an excellent, real skin hot dog. This is what Nathan’s does, and this is why they’re great. When skin like this exists, the snap exists, and the juiciness follows. Since I just came from the dentist, I decided to get two hot dogs. That’s a rule that I follow, by the way: after the dentist, have two hot dogs. Per the original rules, I went one with pure mustard, and one with whatever I choose. In this case, it was chili and cheese. God bless that combo. The original mustard only dog only offered spicy brown mustard, unfortunately. This often happens in New York, however, so I’m used to it.

I have only two complaints about the Nathan’s cart dogs. The bun wasn’t toasted at all, and the weenie itself was not very hot. I think if the guy didn’t feel rushed with a huge line, he might have cooked it longer, so I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, and perhaps not worrying about how sloppy the chili cheese dog was, something was very correct about these weenies. When I consumed them, it felt like I was doing the right thing. It was almost as if I had done some sort of community service or even given a charitable contribution. If I felt like that every time I ate a hot dog I’d weight 314 pounds, but I’d be pretty happy.

3.5 weenies

By the way, the rule for going to the dentist is that you get to eat two hot dogs after (only one if you have a cavity). If you ever have surgery, or, I’m so sorry if this is you… a colonoscopy… please call me. I’ll tell you what you need to do and how many hot dogs you’re allowed to eat. Bradly Cooper was in a movie of the same title… limitless.

Cheers

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Emmett’s

The Cubs won the World Series a little while ago and it inspired me. No, I wasn’t inspired by the come from behind victory, the history of the ball club, or the life-long fans of Chicago. I was rooting for Cleveland. When they lost, I was sad, and in need of a hot dog. The Cubs victory made me think of Chicago, which made me think of a windy mid-western city, Derrick Rose/Dwayne Wade, violence in the hood, and most importantly, it made me think of the Chicago-style hot dog. This weenie is an absolute classic in the hot dog world and I feel like I’ve ignored it. Thank you, Chicago Cubs, for indirectly inspiring me to write about a hot dog with a pickle on top of it.

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First – let us be sure that the readers fully understand the makings of a Chicago style dog. Toppings must include: tomatoes, pickle/pickles/relish, onions, yellow mustard, and a little pepper on top. I’ll let the presentation of the pickles vary in the definition, but I’ll be damned if I see a Chicago dog without a little pepper on top. That’s like an Old Fashioned without an orange peel, a sundae without a fake cherry, or even worse, Flava Flav without a clock. The Chicago dog has never been atop my list of regional dog styles simply because there’s too much going on. I don’t need a garden on top of my weenie. It may take a village to raise a child, but it certainly does not take a garden to enjoy a weenie. I will always respect, however, that the Chicago dog always has strictly yellow mustard. None of that spicy brown garbage get’s the Chicago seal of approval, and that makes this hot dog blogger a happy man.

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Enter Emmett’s, a Chicago themed bar and restaurant in Soho serving up deep dish pizza and other assorted vittles. This place is a very cool, popular spot where it seems many native Chicago-ans hang out. Pictured in the headline photo is their description of the featured Chicago dog. The most notable part of this weenie is the poppy seed bun. My next “never have I ever” will most certainly be the fact that I’ve never had a poppy seed bun before. It was OK. The folks at Emmett’s put a lot of effort into this dog and it payed off. The frank itself was definitely of quality, and although adorned with a garden, I could still taste some smoke in it. In a bite, one could experience a minor snap, followed by a warm, smoky weenie, quickly followed by an avalanche of garden vegetables and yellow mustard. This is very tasty, however, as I mentioned before, overbearing. I appreciate the authenticity Emmett’s offered by using a whole pickle and whole tomatoes, and I’ll say that this is the best Chicago dog I’ve ever had. However, it is still a Chicago dog, and they aren’t my favorite.

3.25 weenies

Cheers

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Boat Basin Cafe

Up on the Upper West Side there’s this odd little sinkhole close to the water where twenty-somethings like to drink. If you live on the UWS and have any semblance of fun in the daytime when its nice out, you’ve been here. If you don’t live on the UWS but have a friend who lives on the UWS and you have any semblance of fun in the daytime when its nice out, you’ve been here. Furthermore, if you don’t have any friends at all, no connection to the UWS, prefer Beyonce over Rihanna, but have some semblance of fun when its nice out, you’ve still probably been here. Its called the Boat Basin. They serve buckets of Corona, Narragansetts, and most importantly: hot dogs. Y’all know I’m down to descend to spots of lower elevation for a good weenie.

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Bring on the mudslide of chili. Above sits the second “chili-est” dog I’ve ever eaten. The first was a lovely weenie eaten atop the marble bar top of Old Town Bar. Science doesn’t allow for much for chili than that. George A. Hormel himself would be overwhelmed with the amount of chili on this hot dog. I, however, am a tremendous proponent of chili dogs, so my mouth salivated the second this thing was in sight. In fact, I saw a guy next to me order two of them before I knew the restaurant even served hot dogs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to order two because this was my 4th meal of the day at my 4th restaurant, so I let off on the gluttony gas pedal a bit.

Now, to elaborate on the dog itself. The bun was a bun, that’s about it. The sausage had a smoky flavor, which I think in part was due to the chili. There was very little snap but I could tell the weenie was of good quality, so I was pleased. I ordered mustard on it, but I couldn’t taste it because I was focusing so much on the best part of this weenie: the chili. It had two types of beans!!! Pintos and kindeys floating around in the same primordial soup is something I dreamed about as a child and drew pictures of in art class. It wasn’t too runny, or too spicy, but it was spicy enough. Once cheese was added to the top it was heaven. I wish there was a bowl on the side so that I could dip any part of the hot dog that was uncovered into it. Stellar.

3.75 weenies

P.S. The pickle was dope, too.

Cheers

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Trademark Burger

The basics. That’s really what livin’ is all about. When something’s not working, we as humans like to go back to the basics and do what we did best for years. Soho went back to the basics last month. They got tired of their tofu vegan fusion with an octopus leg mixed with quinoa and wild herbage con pomegranate fava bean crap, and added Trademark Burger. They serve burgers, dogs, and shakes the American way, no frills, no fancy weird health ingredients. Weenie fans, do you want to know what health is? The dogs are 100% pure grass-fed beef. That’s my health. That’s my fancy. That is my foie gras, and nobody had to force feed a goose, stand in a line of hipsters, or write a food blog to get it. (Oops.)

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It can’t even fit in the bun! The Trademark Dog runs a measly 4 bucks, and comes with ketchup, mustard, and kraut. I found this interesting at first, especially in NYC where the combo is usually just mustard and kraut. Ketchup is an odd addition. But, my friends, here we have something different. The mustard is YELLOW! God Bless America, French’s original yellow mustard is back after a long divorce and happy with it’s original partner, traditional ketchup. Quite honestly, if I had it my way I’d get rid of the kraut, but hey, it’s New York. I have to give major props to the owners/chef of Trademark for using yellow mustard here. It takes courage, and while it may not mean much, I have noticed.

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Now, we must talk about the dog itself. I’m going to go ahead and say it, this is the best quality hot dog I’ve had in Manhattan. First, there is the snap. Far better than the crackle and the pop, this weenie has the snap heard ’round the world with an ability to start wars. Then, there is the flavor. I don’t know what it is about feeding a cow grass, but it makes that cow taste a whole lot better than whatever else it was eating. Beefy juicy excellence oozes from the casing once chomped upon. What I do know is that there is no way I am walking into a cannibal village after eating a bunch of grass. Good lord. The flavor and the snap put together make this a very high quality weenie that I highly recommend.

4.5 weenies

Is this the reigning king?! Did Trademark overtake the Cannibal? Alas, it did not. But it came very close. It would have been nice to have a more toasted bun, or the option of some sort of chili. I know, I don’t like things too fancy, but just a tad more variety could have been nice. The point of this post is that Trademark is an excellent new spot in Soho serving up the basics with perfection. Go there, weenie lovers, and when you do, don’t forget the milkshake. It’ll definitely bring this boy to the yard.

Cheers

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