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…


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!

Greasy Spoons – Crif Dog, NYC. Bacon wrapped hot dogs!

I seriously thought about renaming this blog “Movies, Beer and Hot Dogs” (especially since is available) but changed my mind. After all, sometimes I write about hamburgers, or music. But this time it’s about hot dogs. If they’re good enough for Christopher Walken, they’re good enough for me:

Walken In L.A.

This week, The Onion picks up another popular syndicated column: Christopher Walken’s “Walken in L.A.” For the last two years, Mr. Walken has provided his readers with consistently insightful commentary into the entertainment industry. His column already appears regularly in Variety and Rolling Stone, as well as in dozens of smaller newspapers and magazines. We’re proud to welcome this celebrated actor and columnist to our pages.

Do you enjoy eating hot dogs? I hope you won’t be put off by my frankness when I tell you that I absolutely love them. In fact, I enjoy no food item more than a freshly-boiled hot dog. Now, I’ve done a lot of movies, and it’s true that I’ve worked with quite a few celebrities who did not share this opinion. I’m sorry to say that these people have always angered me.

There are two types of people in this world: those who eat hot dogs whenever it is possible to do so, and those who opt to do other things with their free time. Who do the latter think they are kidding? What pastime could be more rewarding than the consumption of hot dogs? I haven’t yet found one, and I don’t expect to in my lifetime. Unlike other foods, hot dogs can be eaten at any time, in any place, and it is not necessary to cook them. Now, I ask you: Why not eat hot dogs? They are delicious.

I carry a bag of hot dogs with me wherever I go. I eat them from the bag whenever I get the urge, regardless of the circumstances. When I make a movie, my hot dogs are my co-stars. If, in the middle of a scene, I decide I want to consume a hot dog, I do so. I waste the director’s time and thousands of dollars in film stock, but in the end, it is all worth it, because I enjoy eating hot dogs more than I enjoy acting. This bothers some people. I was supposed to portray Batman, but when Tim Burton learned of my hot dog cravings, he asked Michael Keaton to wear the cape. To this day, I am peeved about this.

When we filmed The Dead Zone, I ate over 800 hot dogs a day. It was necessary. My character needed to come across as intense as possible, and I found the inspiration for that intensity in my intense love for hot dogs. The director, David Cronenberg, said that he would never work with me again. I kept eating hot dogs when the cameras were rolling, and that seemed to bother him. I say fuck him. He doesn’t even like hot dogs.

I would like to end by emphasizing once again that I really like to eat hot dogs. If any of you people disagree, I loathe you. I despise you. Not only that, but I also despise all your loved ones. I want to see them torn to pieces by wild dogs. If I ever meet you in person, I’ll smash your brains in with a fucking bat. Then we’ll see who doesn’t like hot dogs.

Next week: My thoughts on Woody Allen, hot dog hater and shitty director.

-Shamelessly reprinted from The Onion

Crif Dogs – wrapped in bacon, and yes slathered in strange toppings.

When you walk down St. Mark’s Place, many eateries cry out for attention. They seem to have taken over most of the used record shops, though some still remain. There are the requisite Indian and Japanese places, there’s a place that sells only Hummus, there’s a replica of the old 50’s Automat called BAMN, all done in pink… and next door is Crif Dog, calling to you with a giant wiener poking out with “Eat Me” written on it in mustard script.

The lewd signage

If you venture down into the basement you’ll be greeted with a disco ball and a big menu, a few classic arcade games including a sit-down Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga, a bar with stools and a few small tables. There’s also a glowing pink door to the left that is a trendy secret nightclub of some sort, so don’t go in there to pee. The wait wasn’t too long, and the drunks were orderly; there’s a note tacked to the menu that says “There’s an Asshole Button for a reason! Be nice to your servers!” I guess some of the New Yorkers are jealous about Chicago’s infamous Wiener’s Circle where the curses fly to and fro. I’ve been there too, and while I can enjoy a Chicago dog with the pickle and other toppings, on the poppy seed bun, the crisp fried dogs at Crif’s are much more to my taste.

Notice the Stoner packs. Know your customer!

I demanded that we go to Crif Dog after Katie mentioned that they make hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Now I’d heard of such a thing, but never experienced it. She also mentioned toppings like sour cream and avocado, or pineapple. Say what you want about California pizza, but I’ve always liked Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and Canadian bacon (though pineapple-pepperoni works better, in my opinion, or pineapple-ham and hot yellow banana peppers). So this was a must-visit. We went to Mara’s Homemade for dinner that night, and sampled Abita’s excellent seasonal brew, Strawberry Harvest Lager, over a bucket of crawfish boil. Then wandered to the Continental, for $10 for any 5 shots, and after a few hours there it was time for drunk food. That’s where Crif Dog comes in handy.

Drunk food requires grease to kick your liver into gear and a spongy carb material to soak up alcohol and keep it in your stomach, to give the liver a fighting chance. A hot dog, ensconced in bacon and fried crisp in oil, enrobed in a gummy bun and slathered in all and sundry toppings, is the top gun in the drunk food arsenal. Some prefer a pizza burger. Up north they have their poutine, or gravy cheese fries as we’d call them here in the States; Disco Fries in Jersey diners. Over the pond it’s a chip butty or a bacon chip butty, a sandwich made of bacon, fries, and butter. Now those concoctions will certainly do the job, but in New York City there is no food more ubiquitous than the hot dog. On Bourbon Street you have your Lucky Dog vendors, but in the city the blue and gold Sabrett’s umbrella is the beacon that will lead you to salvation. But if you’re near St. Mark’s and Avenue A, Crif Dog is the only way to go.

Sadly I think they no longer serve beer. Or at least PBR. Die, hipster!

Despite the fancy names on the menu, they make a fine down-home dog with few pretentions. I was impressed by the Spicy Redneck, a bacon dog with chili sauce, jalapenos, and cole slaw. It wasn’t very spicy, but it tasted very good. I much preferred the Tsunami, which is a bacon dog with teriyaki sauce, pineapple, and a few green onions. Both of these overwhelmed the hotdog and bacon flavors, so in later visits I might try a plain ol’ bacon dog, and I’m told their burgers are worth a try too. Firecracker had a Philly Tube Steak- cheese and onions, and the Chihuahua, with sour cream and avocado. They also make a Good Morning, with bacon, cheese and egg, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

They’re a great find and make some fine hot dogs, but the Redneck was very light on the chili and spices. For $4.50 you can spare a little more chili, right? Well, at least the “Knuckle Sandwiches are still free.” It’s not a bargain, but it’s a unique hot dog experience and $20 for a filling meal for two isn’t that bad in NYC; you might dirty water dogs at Gray’s Papaya a lot cheaper, but you’ll be going back for more if you only get their 2-dogs and a Papaya drink special.