Monday, July 1, 2013

Big Nick's (Upper West Side)

This place has all the trappings of a New York institution. The seating is cramped, the layout labyrinthine, and the menu overwhelming in its size and variety. Which is ironic since the only thing people want to eat there is pizza, hot dogs, and burgers. And the hot dogs are worth it. They aren't the sort of trendy deep fried meat stick covered with eclectic toppings or an Asian-American fusion of heart clogging cuisine; they're just plain ol' New York street meat served up in large portions for a decent price, a good variety of toppings, and the sort of twist that makes you want to go back at least once or twice more to figure out which variation you like the best. Over the last few months, I've had the opportunity to try the hot dog in a blanket, daily double, and the Kobe beef dog.

The Kobe Beef Stick. Who could ask for anything more?
The dog: 4/5 would I take visiting friends to this place straight away? Probably not, it lacks flash and panache, the glamour needed for a 5/5. But as a regular local spot, this is where to go. If I lived closer, I'd be eating porch-style grilled  Kobe beef dogs all the time. Need a place for a date? Try splitting the daily double, two good sized and juicy dogs that come with the requisite coleslaw and fries. And if it all feels like its been done before, go for the hot dog in a blanket, wonderfully wrapped in fresh pizza dough making a sort of hot dog calzone that's worth the extra wait.

The basics, but everything you need for deliciousness
Acoutrement: 3/5 its a diner, so they've got all the basics you need and can accommodate your heathen request for ranch dressing on your hot dog. If you're looking for a rosemary bacon aioli, this ain't the place for you.

Value: 3/5 what you pay and what you get are totally reasonable. It's certainly a meal and comes at no more than $10, which seems fair. If you're not ravenous, it's often large enough to split a single plate and a side. I've never much cared if my hot dog is 'Kobe' or not, and the inflation in price usually makes it not worthwhile, but this one is huge and still stays under $10. It's my recommended go-to if you're looking for a honking piece of tubular happiness.

Pizza Dough wrapped hotdog. Juicy and plump and good.
Other: 3/5 there's certainly plenty of 'other' at big nicks. Can't claim to have even made a dent in sampling the rest of the menu, though I understand their burgers are the big offering. They seem delicious enough.

Overall: 4/5 as I said, a solid local spot. If you want to get off the beaten tourist path or want to explore a new neighborhood joint, try out Big Nick's. In a polished upper west side world, it's nice to have this unchanged dive/diner that's endured through the years.

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