But that all depends on your definition of gem. My definition means it’s good. Crif Dogs is a true dive, yeah Guy Fieri, I used “dive.” Trust me, I was saying it long before you got the show. Honestly, who doesn’t love a good dive?
One night I found myself in the East Village on my way to meet some people and have sushi. Now this is not a knock on sushi, I do eat it from time to time, but I have to be in the mood. I don’t eat raw fish on a whim. Plus I was in NYC and I don’t know about the rest of you but when I’m in the Big Apple I want, no, I HAVE to have at least one hot dog and it has to be from a good spot, I am not a hot dog water kind of guy, but rather along the lines of Schnipper’s, Gray’s Papaya, Nathan’s, and so on.
When I stumbled across Crif Dogs on a Saturday night you can imagine my joy and not just for the dogs. I walked in and legit had to talk myself down from a teenage era, Sega Genesis ledge when I saw the Double Dragon arcade game. Had I played I never would have left. Billy Lee, Jimmy, and a few dogs clearly would have been enough to complete my night, heck, my whole weekend actually.
After my brain nearly exploded with video game nerdiness, I found a way to order some food. I went with their Chili Dog, a well done dog smothered in homemade mustard, onions, and their signature chili sauce. The dog was deep fried (yum) and the topping worked well together, the onions were not overpowering and you could taste both the mustard and chili equally. The dog itself, made of smoked beef and pork was excellent. Try it and let me know what you think.
While I was able to decide on the Chili Dog, it was not an easy choice. Crif makes some crazy/cool versions like the Chihuahua, a bacon wrapped dog with avocados and sour cream; the Tsunami, also wrapped in bacon with teriyaki, pineapple, and green onions; or the one I will order next time, the Morning Jersey, wrapped in Taylor Ham with melted cheese and a fried egg. I may even add chili to that one. Whichever you decide I’m willing to bet you can’t go wrong or you can get your creative juices flowing and create your own from the plethora of toppings they offer.
Of course I needed a side so I went with criss-cut fries, crispy and good but I definitely should have gotten chili cheese fries. I guess that’s why “next times” were invented.
Besides hot dogs and fries, Crif Dogs has burgers with all types of toppings, tater tots, beans, slaw, and shakes & floats (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and coffee). To drink, besides soda, they serve beer!
But there is one other cool thing about Crif Dogs that is not such a secret anymore…A SECRET ROOM. If you already knew, go ahead, act surprised. This secret room complete with bartenders is on the left hand side hidden by a phone booth. The way to get access is to call the secret speakeasy like cocktail lounge, appropriately named Please Don’t Tell, and ask to make a reservation. If you think that’s not cool, well you just aren’t human.
I did not waste my time trying to get in on a Saturday since it fills up on weekends but I know I need a return visit to Crif Dogs very soon for a couple of different dogs, a lot of Double Dragon, and another dog while I sip on a cocktail on my first real visit to Please Don’t Tell.
113 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10009
Please Don’t Tell
Call (212) 614-0386
If it existed. Shhh. Don’t tell.