New York Tour1’s Frank Paiva on NYC’s Best Hot Dogs
Frank Paiva is a guide for New York Tour1. He gives the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour, the Inside Broadway Tour, and the One Day NYC Tour.
1. Where can you find the best hot dogs in NYC, in your opinion?
In my opinion, the best New York City hot dogs are at Jewish delis and Gray’s Papaya. Katz’s Deli, best known for their pastrami, makes a mean hot dog. You can see them grilling in the front window and it’s a great photo. Mile End, which is a Montreal-style Jewish deli with locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, has a high-end homemade beef frank that’s a giant mess in all the right ways.
Above all, you want to make sure your hot dog is cooked on a griddle, not boiled. Nearly all of the hot dog carts in midtown are boiling their hot dogs and the flavor just isn’t the same. If you must get your hot dog from a cart, Nathan’s Famous, the century-old Coney Island institution, has rolled out a line of bright yellow food carts in the past year. There’s one near pretty much every big tourist area.
2. If you had to recommend one hot dog joint, what would it be?
If I had to pick one specific hot dog/location, I’d head over to Gray’s Papaya on Broadway and 72nd Street. (Their other location near Port Authority doesn’t have the same charm.) Get the Recession Special, which is 2 hot dogs and 1 signature drink for around $5. Onions and mustard are an absolute must for toppings. As for drinks, their original Papaya drink is great, but I’m also a fan of the Coconut Champagne.
Gray’s Papaya is quick, it’s easy, and it’s on a busy street corner where you can watch all of New York stroll by. It’s also a short walk to Central Park, Lincoln Center, and the Natural History Museum and it’s in an area with few good cheap dining options, so I go there whenever I’m nearby.
3. What makes NYC such a great place to get a hot dog?
New York is such a great location for hot dogs because we as a city have perfected food on the go. New Yorkers are always in a hurry. We’re the city that never sleeps. Not only do we have no time for sleeping, we also have no time to be waiting around for our meal. For any part of New York that I spend any amount of regular time in, I could name you at least half a dozen places to get a decent dinner in 15 minutes. We also have no time for mediocre food. The turnover rate for restaurants in New York can be quick and brutal. Only the best survive. When places like Gray’s Papaya, Katz’s Deli, Nathan’s Famous, etc. have been around for decades–or even centuries–that means something.