For two decades, and four separate presidential administrations, St. Marks Place has been Crif Dogs territory. Some have tried to challenge the shop’s grip on the street — one of the more prosperous late-night food destinations because of the high concentration of young, drunk customers — but ultimately failed. Feltman’s opened on St. Marks in 2016, calling itself “the original hot dog company,” but the owners closed the shop after a couple years. Since then, Crif Dogs — owing to its bacon-wrapped rippers and Tater Tots (plus its not-at-all-secret attached speakeasy, PDT) — has maintained uncontested control over this valuable stretch of frankfurter turf.
On November 1, a new challenger arrived: Glizzy’s near the corner of St. Marks Place and Second Avenue, promising “Brooklyn’s Best Hot Dogs.” If the TikTok-inspired name didn’t clue you in, this isn’t your grandpa’s hot-dog joint. (It also isn’t the first location for Glizzy’s; a Williamsburg outpost recently closed.) Here in the East Village, the store looks a bit spartan, with a handful of computer kiosks for ordering and a stainless-steel countertop. There’s a solitary pot of basil hanging in a lonely corner and a neon sign of an anthropomorphized hot dog holding up an NYC flag. It was more or less empty midafternoon one day last week, but the party mood was still set by cumbia like “En Su Lugar” and a clubby remix of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain.”
As for the toppings, they take a maximalist approach: smoked brisket and Mike’s Hot Honey, fried shallots and mapo sauce, or harissa and yogurt are among the available combinations. The “O.G.,” a classic New York dog made with an even more classic Sabrett sausage, is sloppy with toppings, with enough mustard to feed a small German family or one drunk college student. A plain hot dog will set you back $3; dogs with toppings cost $6 to $9.
Co-owner Johnny Huynh, who also runs Lucy’s Vietnamese, says he’s bothered by what is, in his estimation, a decline in the frankfurter’s cultural standing. Growing up in Bushwick, he recalls, he ate hot dogs all the time. But as he got older, he started to wonder what happened to them. “I just wanted to bring hot dogs back because I love hot dogs,” he says. “Where can you get a hot dog besides Nathan’s? Going to a fucking baseball game, basketball game? Where can you get a hot dog besides in front of a museum? Where can you get hot dogs? They used to be everywhere. Now they’re nowhere. Want to know why? I don’t know why.”
Having eaten at a good amount of hot-dog carts, this reporter can confirm that the quality of street dogs is not especially high. But there are some good ones on the sidewalk — like the Hot Dog King and Famous Eddie’s — and plenty off it, including classic spots like Katz’s, Gray’s Papaya, and Pastrami Queen. More recently, Bobbi’s Italian Beef and Dog Day Afternoon have contributed to the growing appreciation for Chicago dogs in New York, and Mischa, in midtown, introduced a luxury dog of its own. The hot-dog universe extends further: You can go to Prontito in Queens for Colombian-style hot dogs topped with quail eggs, or places like Oh-K for Korean corn dogs.
But Huynh thinks there’s room for his no-nonsense approach, too. If all goes according to plan, the East Village location will be the first of several Glizzy’s in nightlife-centric areas of New York. Huynh went to St. Marks Place for sentimental reasons. “When I was a younger Johnny, I would go to St. Marks all the time. And it’d be like, we’re going to get some banchan, get some fucking fried chicken, go get ten shots for who knows how many dollars,” he says. Opening here, he adds, has been a dream — and he’s not worried about moving in on Crif Dogs’ territory. “If you sell me hot dogs,” Huynh says, “I’m with you.”