One of the biggest perks of moving to the Village this year was being in walking proximity to the East Village late-night snack stop, Crif Dogs, owned by my grandfather’s son. With my first bite of the chihuahua dog a couple summers ago–the bacon-wrapped dog smothered in avocado and sour cream–I was sold. The creamy avocado paired with the tang of the sour cream and the salt of bacon hit the spot; no ketchup or other condiments were necessary. That summer, while staying with my grandparents in New York, I frequented Crif Dogs any time I was below 14th Street. This year, I have definitely taken advantage of my school-year proximity to Crif Dogs. Many nights my friends and I have concluded our revelries with a satisfying philly tubesteak or jon-jon deragon dog and a side of tots.
I was thrilled when my grandparents invited me to my first restaurant opening–Crif Dogs’s new operation in Williamsburg. I was excited even though a bit unsure of what to expect; I hadn’t even met my grandfather’s son before. (My grandfather is technically my step-grandfather, but since my grandma remarried when I was little, the “step” has always been irrelevant. But that’s why I had never met his son until the Crif Dogs opening.)
After a quick subway ride from Union Square on the L to Bedford Ave, I was greeted with almost all familiar faces of my grandfather’s family as I walked in the door. Four generations of hot dog eaters were present–everyone from my grandfather’s father to my grandfather’s grandchildren. In our family, food is always enough of a reason to get everyone together. Besides the family, only a handful of close friends and employees of Crif Dogs and PDT were there mingling and chowing down dogs. The decor at Crif Dogs in Williamsburg is similar to the East Village outpost–old school video games, Star Wars collectibles, and vintage skateboards line the walls.
I ordered my standby, the chihuahua dog, as well as the sour cheese dog– another bacon-wrapped delight engulfed in a sea of melted cheese and thinly sliced half-sour pickle. The food matched the social atmosphere in the room–warm and satisfying. The chihuahua dog was as good as ever. The novel but familiar complementing flavors of the sour cheese dog became a new favorite of mine; the comforting taste of the melted cheese juxtaposed with the savory bacon dog and the subtly sour deli pickle echoed the harmony of flavors that I love about the chihuahua dog. My grandma and I noshed on perfectly fried golden-brown tater tots, dunking them in the pool of cheese sauce–one of the only foods I have seen my urbane grandmother make the exception to eat with her hands.
I stayed at the opening briefly, just enough time to eat, chat with my extended family, and play Pacman with my grandfather’s granddaughter. The evening was casual and pleasant, filling and cozy, on a dreary snowy evening. Even though the East Village location will always be a favorite spot of mine, Crif Dogs’s new Williamsburg location will be a new excuse to make the trek to Brooklyn.