Ed Levine's Updated Guide to the Best Hot Dogs in NYC

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Photographs taken by Robyn Lee

Around the July 4th holiday a person's attention turns to hot dogs, as it obviously did for Jenn Sitt when she wrote the extraordinary regional hot dog styles post that went up on Serious Eats yesterday. There can be no doubt that serious eaters love hot dogs. More than two years ago I wrote the guide to My Top 6 Hot Dogs in Manhattan. That same year we posted about all the great Latin-style hot dogs to be found in NYC. A year before that I wrote a hot dog piece for the New York Times.

I thought it would be fun and entirely appropriate to update these New York City missives in time for July 4th eating this year, complete with a new top ten hot dogs in NYC list. Please note that I have not tried the Wiley or the Chang dogs served at Crif Dogs that Sietsema wrote about recently.

On to the list of the Top 10 Hot Dogs in New York City

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Gray's Papaya: Great natural casing, all-beef dog made by Marathon, Sabrett's parent company. I ask for mine well-done, not that any of the counterpeople listen. Many locations, I go to the one on 72nd and Broadway.

Papaya King: Virtually the same hot dog as Gray's (there's one secret spice added), but the mustard is spicier and the bun is more or less toasted. Papaya King does offer many more toppings than Gray's, including my new favorite topping of choice, cole slaw (thank you, Brian Koppelman, for alerting me to this wondrous possibility). Multiple locations, but I go to the one on 86th street and third avenue. Multiple locations; papayaking.com

A word to the wise on most of the Papaya King imitators: They may have papaya in the name (they're obviously trying to fool us hot dog lovers), but they're trying to run a hot dog game. In other words, almost every one I've tried use a skinless Sabrett all-beef hot dog. Nice try.

Katz's: The best deli dog in lower Manhattan. They give you more sauerkraut than either of the above-mentioned spots, and the hot grill gives the hot dogs a great crust. 205 East Houston St., New York, NY 10002 (nr. Avenue A; map); katzdeli.com

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The Shake Shack: The SS serves the only true Chicago-style dog in NYC: A Vienna Beef hot dog, poppy seed bun, and sport peppers as one of the condiments. I wish they would grill the hot dogs instead of steaming them. Have the frozen custard for dessert. 11 Madison Ave. (nr. 23rd Street; map); shakeshack.com

Artie's: A big kosher-style deli dog properly grilled. It would be hard to finish two hot dogs here. At Artie's I get cole slaw and sauerkraut on the dog. 2290 Broadway, New York NY 10024 (nr 83rd Street; map); arties.com

Brooklyn Diner: A humongous (easily sharable), expensive, natural casing, all-beef dog served with crispy, wispery onion rings and very good sauerkraut. brooklyndiner.com

Crif Dogs: The spicy redneck, a deep-fried skinless all-beef hot dog with cole slaw, bacon, chili, cheese, and jalapenos may sound like hell on a bun to cardiologists and vegans, but it is supremely tasty.

Dominick's Hot Dog Truck: Angelina D'Angelo serves a terrific steamed natural-casing Sabrett with sautéed onions to cops, local businesspeople, and the hot dognascenti on Woodhaven Boulevard across from St. John's Cemetery in Rego Park, Queens. Her husband, Gary, makes an estimable grilled skinless Sabrett dog with great grilled onions and peppers at another truck, D'Angelo's, about 100 yards south on Woodhaven Boulevard. Woodhaven Blvd., Rego Park NY (nr 67th Avenue; map)

Old Town Bar: The Old Town Bar on East 18th Street not only toasts the bun that encases its grilled natural-casing all-beef Sabrett dog, it butters it as well. Sublime! 45 East 18th Street, New York NY 10003 (nr. Broadway; map); oldtownbar.com

Nathan's Hot Dog (Coney Island location only): Nathan's has sullied its hot dog reputation in recent years by serving undistinguished skinless beef hot dogs at many of its franchised locations. However the original Nathan's location in Coney Island still serves a fine natural casing dog with plenty of snap. The salty ocean air in Coney Island adds immeasurably to the taste and the hot dog-eating experience in general. nathansfamous.com

Have a happy 4th of July weekend everyone, and make sure no matter where you are, to eat a hot dog!

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