New York Street Cart Dog

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I began my career in Manhattan, and as a kid right out of college the only food I could really afford for lunch was street food. That’s when I discovered and fell in love with New York Street Cart Hot Dogs. At first I wasn’t wasn’t sure, but when I saw the lines of people ordering and enjoying them, I figured when in New York, do as New Yorkers do, and I’ve never looked back. There is something strangely comforting and exotic about the Push Cart Onion Sauce.  Each vendor seems to have his or her own recipe, but here’s my favorite.

For the real New York Push Cart taste you need to warm your hot dogs in “dirty water”. The water takes on a dirty look from the ingredients that are added to provide flavor and from the juices that come from the hot dogs that are warmed in the water.


New York Street Cart Onion Sauce:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium yellow or white onions, cut into 1/4-inch wide slices
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Crystal)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Spicy brown mustard, as needed
Cooked sauerkraut, as needed

“Dirty Water” Hot Dogs
2 quarts water
2 Tbs. red vinegar
1 Tbs. dried onion powder
1/8 Tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 Tsp. ground cumin
8 of your favorite hot dogs, but not skinless!
8 hot dog buns


Onion sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they are soft. Stir in the honey, cinnamon and chili powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, water, hot sauce, salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature before serving. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 days.

To make dirty water dogs, place water in 4 quart saucepan, bring to boil, stir in vinegar, cumin and nutmeg. Turn down heat and add up to two pack of dogs and cover for at least ten minutes.

Assembly: Put the dirty water hot dogs onto the buns. Spread the bottom half of each bun with some mustard and top each hot dog with the onion sauce or sauerkraut or both.

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