Is there an eater in America who doesn’t know about Nathan’s? The hot dog was virtually invented at this Coney Island landmark in 1916; and in many parts of the United States, the very term Coney Island has come to be synonymous with hot dog.
There are Nathan’s franchises in malls and shopping centers around the country. The ones we’ve tried are quite alright. However – and this is a huge however – none can compare with the original Nathan’s, by the boardwalk on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Radiating the irresistible aromas of frankfurters and French fries into the oceanic air, the Coney Island landmark serves hot dogs that simply taste better than those at any other Nathan’s … and, quite honestly, better than those at almost any other hot dog place in greater New York.
Maybe the magic is in the place itself – still basically an overgrown hot dog stand – or maybe it’s the setting by the saltwater in a neighborhood that retains a honky-tonk character. Or maybe it’s the perfection of the hot dog itself. There is something extra-special about sitting down (or standing up) in this historic spot and crunching through the taut skin of an all-beef hot dog nestled in a steamy soft bun. Cheese and/or chili are nice options, but frankly, this is one tube steak that is so good au naturel that we almost never put anything on it but a schmear of mustard. The side dishes are excellent, especially the crinkly fried potatoes (also available with blankets of cheese and chili). Nathan’s serves hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and a limited menu of fried seafood. We’ve never ordered any, and have never met anyone who has.