Walking New York

A fat lazy idiot tries to walk every street in Manhattan.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Day 17: Canal Street and Back (5.25 miles)

Covered a good chunk of 6th Avenue, then came back up Lafayette, walking through Chelsea, the Village, SoHo, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, NoHo, and Gramercy along the way. It was pretty gray and dreary out, so most of the better pictures I got were of actual locations. I also have three new additions to Streets You've Never Heard Of, one of which I'll post tonight. The other two I'll save for the next few days.

If it's nice out tomorrow, I'm going to do the loop around Central Park, which would be about 6 miles. If it's cloudy, I'll probably stay downtown. I'd like to have a big map that I update every day with my overall progress, but haven't figured out a way to do that online yet. If anybody has any suggestions, let me know. Because I'm overlapping some streets each walk, the mileage I'm listing is no longer reliable as a measurement of my progress. I have a foldout map that I'm marking with a Sharpe, but if anyone knows a way to get something like that on here, let me know. Other than that, nothing new to report, so on to the pictures.

First, as always, the food. The only line I remember from Elf is when Santa is warning Will Ferrell about the dangers of New York, saying "there are, like, thirty Ray's Pizzas. They all claim to be the original. But the real one's on 11th." So when I walked by a Ray's on 11th and 6th today, I had to get a picture.

Further research suggests that this was long-considered the first and most famous Ray's in the city, although technically the one on Prince Street started first (and later was used for mafia-run heroin distribution - fun!). There's also something about some people in London ordering pizza from the 11th Street one and coming to get it, but it's from Wikipedia, so who knows.

It may seem like family-farmed organically raised chow is completely at odds with Sparky's tagline: "All-American Food," but I am completely sold on this place just from one picture in a New York Times article from December. If you're not registered for the Times online, you may not be able to see the picture, but trust me, it's worth registering for.

Sparky's opened in November after a successful run in Manhattan's restaurant farm team (Brooklyn), offering burgers, grilled cheese, BLTs, and most importantly, hot dogs. With tons of cheap hot dog options down there like Crif Dogs, Dawgs on Park, and Underdogs, Sparky's would have to be pretty great to survive. The Times story also features two other recently opened Lower East Side hot dog places: Dash Dogs and BroomeDoggs. Sparky's offers Chicago hot dogs, which are surprisingly rare in Manhattan (and the versions that are around, like at Shake Shack, are nothing special), and really incredible looking jalapeno cheese fries (look at the picture, seriously).

I think I've had Dawgs on Park and Underdogs once or twice, but the only hot dog place down there I can really speak for is Crif Dogs on St. Marks around Avenue A, which I think is great. The hot dogs themselves are solid, especially entries from the Cholesterol Hall of Fame like the Good Morning Dog (hot dog wrapped in bacon, covered with a fried egg and cheese), but the real highlight is still the tater tots. Katz's also has excellent hot dogs, although in a very different atmosphere, obviously. So Sparky's seems worth a try, although BroomeDoggs' "fixin bar" seems promising as well. Basically, if you're drunk enough to really need a Lower East Side hot dog at 2am, try all three of these places, then post a comment right after, because you're not going to remember it in the morning.


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