Gourmet Hot Dogs are Not a Culinary Unicorn

Seeing Bark make New York‘s list of 101 Best (new) Cheap Eats was something of a personal vindication. It is like the band you were telling everyone about back when they were passing out CD-Rs starts headlining arena tours. Or when you come across a little known minor leaguer, follow them as they make their way up to the Bigs, and become an established contributor.

Bark’s arrival in Park Slope came a month or two after my return to the neighborhood in 2009. In those first weeks back in Brooklyn, the papered windows promised something that seemed groundbreaking – gourmet hot dogs. It was all I could talk about.

Once it opened, I went there by myself, sometimes brought friends, told co-workers about the place, and when out at the bar, drunkenly swore up and down we should go to Bark for hot dogs and (more) beer.

Bark at Night - Via Flickr user YUMMY Brooklyn
Bark at Night – Via Flickr user YUMMY Brooklyn

As New York points out, Bark is at the meeting point of slow food and fast food. It is this sweet spot that keeps bringing me back for more.

In the five years since they first opened, Bark has pared down the menu. And in that time, my favorite, the Pickle Dog has gone the way of the W Train. Since my re-return to Brooklyn in 2011, I’ve dropped by Bark periodically for my new go-to, the Bacon-Cheddar Dog and a Narragansett.

On a recent Monday off, I stopped by for lunch and decided to expand my hot dog horizons with the Kraut dog that is topped with Hawthorne Valley sauerkraut and yellow mustard. I added an order of cheese fries and Sixpoint’s Rad.

Among some of my friends, Crif Dogs is the be-all-end-all of hot dogs. I grant them that the variety of hot dogs and the depth of toppings trumps Bark, the actual hot dog and the quality of the ingredients makes Bark the hands-down winner. The Kraut dog confirmed that with its fresh sauerkraut and perfectly cooked dog.

At some point this year, Bark will open a space in Manhattan. Until then, skip past the lines at the new Shake Shack by the Barclays Center, and walk a few blocks up for the hot dog that captures the slow food meets fast food ethos. And grab a ‘gansett while you’re at it.

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