“It’s a hot dog with mac and cheese on it! I don’t believe it, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes!”
—GFS co-founder Danielle, upon witnessing a Ditch Dog for the first time
Yes, it is in fact a hot dog with mac and cheese on it. More specifically, it’s two hot dogs tucked into grilled rolls and amply covered with creamy homemade—not Kraft—mac and cheese atop a basket of homemade French fries, as presented by Ditch Plains.
When the West Village restaurant opened in 2006, Marc Murphy and Pamela Schein Murphy (chef/owners of downtown stalwart Landmarc) modeled the spot as an urban fish shack, with a simple, seafood-centric menu. For $11, you could get a basket of freshly fried clams with homemade tartar sauce (still on the menu, still excellent) or a michelada-style Spicy Corona for $7.
The Ditch Dog was an off-menu urban legend, the Animal-Style burger of Bedford Street. But how can you keep something as good as a hot dog with mac and cheese on it under wraps? People are gonna talk.
Five years later, the double Ds not only receive full pride of place on the menu, but have birthed an entire family of hot dogs covered in other things. Fans of the Texas Weiner might prefer to order the Sloppy Dogs with saucy sloppy joe filling, or one of each in a Ditch/Sloppy combo. There’s even a Ditch breakfast dog, for pete’s sake, topped with American cheese and an egg (oh, just go ahead and get it fried instead of scrambled).
But as a rising tide lifts all boats, the rising cost of success in New York lifts all menu prices. Beware—you can rack up a hefty tab here without even trying, despite the excellent wine list strategy that the Murphys have carried over from Landmarc (no choices by the glass; instead of a $14 goblet of Syrah, you can get an entire half bottle for the same price).
Game the menu by skipping the lobster roll—for $26, you should really just go wait in line for the best lobstah in the city at Pearl Oyster Bar—and most of the entrees in favor of splitting smaller items with a dining compatriot. Hearty salads (yes, I’m recommending salads) come in two sizes to gauge hunger levels when dividing things up; it’s also smart to make use of the menu items—mussels, the better-than-standard burger—that are already accompanied by those chunky golden fries. Go whole hog and ask for a cup of mayo or the homemade tartar sauce for dipping.
And most importantly, while it’s totally possible for one person to singlehandedly devour the basket of double Ditch Dogs (been there, done that, groaned all the way home), the two dogs split handily as an appetizer for four or a half-lunch for two people, with a side of fried pickles or the small spicy calamari salad to round out the meal.
A handful of salt water taffy always comes stuffed into a bistro tumbler with the check, so you will get a little free dessert every time. However, if the gluttony of beef, mac and cheese, and fried potatoes just wasn’t enough, I’ll share one more recommendation: an order of foil-wrapped s’mores in all their gooey glory to share before hitting the streets.
Ditch Plains, 29 Bedford St. at Downing, New York, NY. 212-633-0202.
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