The hot dog stands in New York are everywhere.
It was one of the first things I noticed the evening of my first visit to New York City. I felt hungry, I craved a savoury meal, I saw a hot dog stand. The typical hot dog carts in and around central New York do look kind of similar to each other. Most of them consist of a simple metal trolley construction that contains and cooks all the meat. The cart is covered in luminous photographs of various fast food combinations that make the real product look very appealing. Often you’ll notice the trademark colorful umbrella that hovers over the stands before you smell the food. The umbrellas are there for that very reason, to attract customers to the shop. In other words, it’s a sight that is hard to miss.
There are thousands of hot dog stands in New York City and most of them are based in and around prime spots such as the Empire State Building and other landmarks, down the block from the theatres of most major Broadway musicals and all other high-traffic areas where tourists are likely to go as they are a main source of income to street food vendors. Most locals “shun hot dog stands like the plague” says Jared, a New Yorker who works in the Broadway industry, but confesses that he will sometimes order a hot dog after a late night out on the way home to his flat in Manhattan.
Is the food good in the hot dog stands in New York?
So back to my first evening in New York and that hot-dog stand. I found myself outside The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a location for which street food vendors pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent just because it’s considered such a lucrative spot. This is due to the lack of eateries in the area, you’ll have to walk another few blocks to find a bite to eat. So on that evening, I was just walking around, and there was not a single food outlet in sight – apart from the fast food cart. I decided to stop and give it a try. I ordered a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut, and decided against adding chopped onion, ketchup and chilli. My hot dog cost me $1.70 (some would say I was robbed there; street food is dirt cheap). I avoided looking at the photo displays that were glued to the cart, and tucked in. The meal was tasty. Not too much mustard. Sauerkraut was nice and sweet. Bread had a nice fluffy texture and the meat tasted like any other hot dog I’ve tasted. Just ok. Just like I expected.