Hot dogs haven't had an easy time in Dallas. In the past decade, a number of mom-and-pop hot dog joints — whether they have burgers or fried chicken sandwiches or wings on the left side of the menu — have opened and closed in a blink, quicker than a Texas winter.
New York Sub, an institution on Asbury Street across from SMU, is fully aware of the challenge, even in a pandemic, and added 100% Angus beef dogs to the menu anyway.
Midday in August in Dallas is sensational hot dog weather; it’s dragon-breath hot, and the astroturf outside New York Sub is achingly green.
They have a new window open at this classic sandwich joint for shaved ice. The strawberry shortcake is high-wattage red, capped with a huge cloud of whipped cream. There’s no indoor dining at the 44-year-old sandwich spot right now. A hand-written sign says “help wanted,” and a long table blocks the entrance as a bottle of hand sanitizer stands guard.
Their new dogs are instant gems, a true tribute to the classic dogs you’d find in New York City. Tangy sauerkraut is nested in fine shreds, speckled with intense brown mustard. The beef frank is sourced from Fort Worth: It snaps lightly and is full of juices. It does not taste of curing agent and mind-numbing salt; it bears the flavor of beef.
“Historically it is difficult to sell a hot dog in Dallas, so we figured, if we’re going to do it, they might as well be the best,” says owner Andrew Kelley. The beef franks have been on the menu for a week.
The Chicago dog has a bun that’s wall-to-wall dipped in poppy seeds. It’s soft, lightly chewy, sturdy against a skyscraper of toppings. This is not a bun that will open like a trap door and send all of the ingredients to the floor and over your shoes.
Get zig-zags of mustard, relish, thick tomato slices, sport peppers and a pickle spear to surround your frank. Customization is one paper-thin silver lining of being driven to online ordering during the pandemic.
Another option, the “Dallas Dog,” tempts with a dangerous proposition in the online ordering system: “Tell us in the notes how you like it,” reads the text on New York Sub’s Chowhound system. There is a huge blank canvas of a text field beneath. It’s like being set loose in the hot dog equivalent of the Wonka factory. After a to-go margarita or two, one can imagine the horrors and madness that could be requested for the Dallas Dog:
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Can the frank get wrapped in prosciutto? Can you crush Zapp’s Voodoo chips and let them hail over the dog like a dangerous storm? Can you stack four dogs in two layers like the beginnings of a log cabin? “Have it your way,” the online ordering system warns.
Maybe the success of hot dogs in Dallas can be guaranteed with some light rebranding. Hot dog classification is frequently debated on Twitter: The question often posed is, “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” The answer, probably, is “it’s a hot dog.” Whatever the definition — it’s a pandemic, and these aren’t the times to spar over semantics. A hot dog is a classic hot dog here.