Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crif Dogs | An Openly Delicious Secret

Crif Dogs, ("Chris Dogs" as said with a mouthful of meat), is kind of an open secret in The Village.

Secret One: It's a hole-in-the-wall that serves delicious, interesting, reasonably priced hot dogs and assorted sides/drinks and has delightful brick-a-brack on the walls.

Secret Two: The only sign you can really see from the street is a giant hit dog that says "eat me." If you found that, you're probably next to the Chocolate Library and its weed-smoking proprietor.

Secret Three: If you make a reservation after 3pm for any time between 6 and 2am (4 on weekends), you can kind of access a speakeasy-style bar with it's own separate wiener menu, via an old-timey phone booth.

I, however, attended solely for the dogs. I don't care if I'm burying the lead on this, the lead is the freakin' dogs, alright? They've opened a second location in Brooklyn and a few hours after we left Anthony Bourdain was scheduled to come through for his new show. And I'm pretty sure it's a show about food.

Honestly? I'm almost disappointed it was too early in the day to gain admittance to the more interesting establishment quarters, but frankly the franks were so delicious I really just don't care. I would be raving about them either way, that's how good they are.

I ordered the "Tsunami Dog:" an all-beef frank on  regular bun, but deep-fried instead of boiled or grilled, and only after being wrapped in delicious bacon. It is topped with teriyaki sauce, creamy avocado, diced pineapple chunks and green onions. And it looks like this:

Photo by Joey (flickr). I honestly forgot to take my own photo because the dog was
too delicious for me to think properly. I was a sight to see.
A friend of mine got a "Chihuahua Dog," which is bacon-wrapped and covered in avocado and sour cream. We both got some unrealistically sweetened lemonade and split an order of waffle cheese fries. We chatted with the adorable cashier/waitress girl with feather earrings and a love for wizard-heavy "stoner-metal."

I don't know how else to better describe the food than this: It is exactly what it's trying to be. I have worked many generations of sandwich to death trying to cultivate the perfect balance of flavors. I know how difficult that is. I'm not there, but two years in and I'm closer. At Crif Dogs, everything has achieved the very pinnacle of success, the acme of perfection; every morsel has distilled down to the every bite its precise essence of flavor.

I almost didn't get the green onions on mine, but remembering that I tolerate them in my Chinese food and the gut feeling that this was a place whose opinions on food construction I could trust, told me to take the dog as-is. And it was the right thing to do. The bacon adds a smokey salt to the dog, but it's added saltiness is balanced by the pineapple's sweetness and is melded, rather than opposing each other, by the tang of the teriyaki. Those onions? They're the crunch and the breathy, aromatic herbal quality that tells your stomach, "No no, it's okay. There is a vegetable here."

If you have the ability to temporarily, or even permanently, transport yourself into Greenwich Village, do yourself the courtesy of stopping in at Crif Dogs. You're stomach will thank you. It will also then punish you for hours upon hours, but only because you'll have gorged yourself beyond the capacity of a normal human gastrointestinal system. (Hope you're a skinny Japanese man.)

And of course Tea & Sympathy is just a few blocks away in case you were looking for an after-dinner cup, but that's a whole other ballgame. (Actually cricket, I think.)

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