The Hot Dog Oscars

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, let’s see who wins this year’s Best Hot Dog. I ate a lot of hot dogs last year. I gained ten pounds. (It’s disgusting, the things I do for you people).

The nominees for Best Hot Dog of 2008 are:

Gray’s Papaya, for The Curious Case of Coconut Champagne
This old favorite is a standard Oscar-bait dog- a skinny tube steak with good flavor, classic toppings, and they’re open all night. The drinks are amazing, and vhat a bargain!! But we’ve seen this before.

Crif Dog, for Dog/Bacon
Hot Dogs and Bacon- two things that go great together, fried to crispy perfection. Others have done it, but no one wraps bacon around the dog like Crif does, and their toppings selections keep getting better. The one to beat.

Big Daddy’s Diner, for Hotdog Millionaire
Size does matter! But so does flavor. Big Daddy’s diner of decadence makes the best foot long we had this year, a spicy frank smothered in cheese and bacon. But the bacon lacked flavor and more toppings would have been nice.

Puka Dog, for The ‘Furter

Let’s go Hawaiian! You’ve got to go to Honolulu for this one, but it’s worth the flight. The dog is a bit bland and mushy but well-seared. What makes this one amazing is the perfect bun- with a hole seared in the middle to stick the juicy dog, and tons of fruity, spicy and mayonnaise-y toppings!

Ben’s Chili Bowl, for Half-Smoke
Ben’s is a spicy sausage made of beef and pork, slathered mightily with a kick-ass smoky chili and tangy onions. This one’s a classic and a serious contender to Crif Dog. If you’re in D.C., you simply must go. It’s a neighborhood landmark and makes serious good eats.

And the winners are…


Don’t you hate when the Oscars wastes your time and saves the big ones for last? Get used to it.


The Independent Sausage award goes to The Dover Grill for being the most exciting hot dog joint in North Jersey we found. While it doesn’t beat Crif Dog, they make some amazing flavor combos there.

The Irving Whaleberg Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, for winning the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest once more. This time he ate 59 hot dogs in 12 minutes, tying champ Takera “Tsunami” Kobayashi, and then defeated him in a 5 hot dog eat-off tiebreaker. He is truly a great American and an inspiration to hot dog lovers everywhere.

and the winner of Best Hot Dog 2008 is…

CRIF DOG!

No big surprise here if you know insiders at the Academy! Crif Dog continues to amaze us with their timeless concoctions. They’ve added cream cheese, kimchi, and Taylor Ham to the roster, but the Spicy Redneck- cole slaw, jalapenos, bacon, and chili- still reigns supreme. It’s such a perfect mix of crunchy saltiness, spicy peppers, and cool creamy slaw. The Good Morning Jersey, with Taylor Ham, cheese and a fried egg, is pretty good but needs ketchup added- Taylor Ham and ketchup are the perfect marriage of flavor. The Jon Jon Dragon, with cream cheese, scallions and “everything bagel topping” is good but strange. Cream cheese goes well, but the topping is too salty. We still haven’t conquered their menu, and they keep raising the bar.
Even when Milky can barely lift a Crif dog, he will persevere and conquer. He won’t let any mere hot dog humiliate him. And just look at how fiercely Firecracker protects her plate. She got the Chihuahua, the avocado bacon dog. That’s the one Chihuahua you won’t wanna dropkick.

Thanks to all who participated, and for those overlooked, better luck next year!

Big Daddy’s Texas Tommy

I’ve been to Big Daddy’s Diner before. near Union Square, it’s a reliable and convenient place to nosh with friends after seeing a movie or a show at nearby venues. They make monster burgers, blue plate specials, and serve everything with tater tots. The retro decor ranges from vintage cereal boxes from the ’70s to ancient beer cans and old bumper stickers like Impeach Nixxon, mocking the Exxon logo. Service is a bit slow but the food is very good, and if you have a black hole in your belly that needs fillin’, their servings are huge compared to the somewhat similar and also nearby Fat Annie’s Truck Stop, aka F.A.T.S., which has its own charms but ain’t as decadent as Big Daddy’s!

They recently expanded or at least redesigned their colorful menu, and Firecracker noticed a big ol’ weiner called the Texas Tommy this time. I hadn’t had a hotdog in nigh on a month, so I opted for the ol’ hot beef injection. Besides, with a name like that I can’t exactly ignore it. Serendipity like that must be embraced and devoured. The Texas Tommy is a foot long Usinger’s hot dog covered- nay, slathered– with spicy ketchup, melted cheddar and bacon on a toasted bun, with a side of tots or fries. Firecracker ordered cheese tots and mine were caught in the crossfire.

What makes the Texas Tommy so good is the Usinger’s hot dog. Recently we had a bland foot-long chili dog at Bourbon BBQ in Wyckoff- they should switch dogs. Because when it comes down to it, no matter what you put on your weiner, the meat is what matters. That’s why Lucky Dogs purveyed from carts on Bourbon Street are best consumed while drunk. They’re big, mushy, and all you really taste are the toppings. Not so with the Tommy. Tommy’s meat is snappy, spicy and smoky, and no matter how much cheese and bacon coats it, the flavor shines through. So the next time you head over to Big Daddy’s, wrap your lips around Texas Tommy’s Twelve Incher.



If you don’t want to jam a foot long in your gullet, they have enormous and tasty burgers ranging from the spicy Daddy-O with jalapeno jack & bacon, to the Big Mac Daddy which mimics the fast food classic with ingredients that won’t be classified hazardous by the EPA any time soon. Plus they have giant grilled chicken sandwiches as pictured here, Blue Plate specials such as chicken pot pie, mac ‘n cheese, and ribs, they serve breakfast all day, milkshakes, malted, sundaes, pies, and they have a small but respectable selection of beers on tap (Blue Moon, Sam Adams lager & seasonal, Etc). Sure, it’s pricey and you’ll be seated next to hipster gals who look like the spectacled dude from “Flight of the Conchords” under wallpaper with KISS and the Kool-Aid Man on it, but when you want to be trashy and decadent, Big Daddy’s is the place to go.

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