So full disclaimer here: my experience with Crif Dogs has been through the speakeasy Please Don’t Tell so this post is a little about that too.
If you haven’t heard about it, Please Don’t Tell is this cool cocktail lounge where you have to first call a number that’s only an open line starting around 3/3:30 pm each day to make a reservation for that night. Then, if you manage to get a reservation, you enter the Crif Dogs restaurant, step into a phone booth inside, pick up the phone and dial a number. Then, someone opens this secret door, which is actually one of the walls of the phone booth. Is that not all incredibly awesome? You can come without a reservation, but in all likelihood, doing so means you’ll have to wait an hour or two before being able to get a seat.
I’m not really sure what the exact business connection is between the two places, but when you sit down at PDT, their menu includes some food options from Crif Dogs along with their renowned cocktails. Granted, the menu is much smaller than if you were to order at the actual restaurant. There were three kinds of hot dog, I think a burger, and some sides you could order. I decided to go with the Wylie Dog, which is actually a collaboration with WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne. It’s a deep-fried Crif dog with deep-fried, breaded mayo (!), tomato molasses, freeze-dried onions, and shredded romaine. Like, come on.
You might assume that a deep-fried hotdog would be heavy and greasy, but actually it just made the hot dog have a nice “snap” to it. You know the juicy snap when you first bite into one? Like that but with more oomph because of the crisper exterior. The most curious ingredient in this specialty hot dog was the deep-fried mayo, of course. My friend and I both forgot what all the Wylie Dog entailed, so when we were eating our hot dogs, we were like, “What is this..a cheese stick? Cream cheese? It’s yummy!” Then we checked back on the menu to reread the “deep-fried mayo” part and were like, “Wait…what??” I know, I know. It sounds pretty unappetizing. And yes, on it’s own I’m sure it would be kind of sickening. But believe me. It was so good in this hot dog. People put mayo on their hot dogs anyways, you know? I don’t know how they could bread it, but they did and not even with usual bread crumbs or panko crumbs. Instead, they used hot dog bun crumbs. Veryyy clever.
After I finished my hot dog, I realized I needed more grub so I ordered the waffle fries, which were served with cheese sauce and chopped up jalapeños. So simple, but so good, served up all crispy and warm.
If you’re going to Crif Dogs to just eat there (and watch people disappear into the phone booth every now and then), rather than going to the speakeasy, there are lots more crazy hot dog options to choose from. There’s the Chihuahua, which is a bacon wrapped dog with avocado and sour cream, the Jon-Jon Deragon, which has cream cheese, scallions, and everything bagel seeds, and the Tsunami, which is a bacon wrapped dog with teriyaki, pineapple, and green onions. If you’re thinking that those options might be a little bit too outside the box for you, you can always get a regular crif dog with your choice of toppings, and they have everything from chili to egg to coleslaw to salsa, right alongside mainstays like mustard, ketchup, relish, and sauerkraut.
These hot dogs are miles above your run-of-the-mill ballpark franks or $1 street cart hot dogs. And don’t forget that you could be eating them in an exclusive, not-so-secret/secretive cocktail bar. Too much fun man.
Wylie Dog, waffle fries
113 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10009