A place whose wiener artistry is relatively overlooked is Zombie Burger + Drink Lab. I've trekked over to the East Village to sample Zombie's deep-fried pork frank offerings, amusingly referred to as rippers.
First and foremost, with a couple of exceptions, these are not dogs to eat by hand. Knife and fork are essential to dig in to these topping laden dogs atop New England-style top-loading buns.
The Zombie Dog, above right, with a tart and crunchy mustard-pickle relish is the simplest ripper offered and the one most easily eaten by hand. The Club Dog, above center and right, with bacon, guacamole, tomato, and Gorgonzola is practically a salad if you sub the hot dog for greens.
The fried jalapeño strips on the Atomic Dog, above left, are genius. What I assume to be a Sriracha mayo could use more of the rooster sauce. Cheddar cheese, onion, guacamole, and bacon round out the sandwich. The Chili Cheese Dog, above center and right, offers a thick and slighty sweet chili sporting some zest. Diced red onion packs crunch and some heat, while plank-cut pickles add tartness.
On my first visit to Zombie Burger back in 2011 I tried the Mac Dog, above left, topped with macaroni and cheese and fried bacon. It looks and tastes awesome. And despite its formidable size no knife is needed to enjoy the Doghouse, above center and right, with two dogs wrapped in a flour tortilla with cheddar cheese, fries, onion, guacamole, tomato, and chili. Truly a complete package! I'm not entirely sold on the fries but the guacamole and tomato do offer a flavor boost. The chili's solid, comforting flavor melds it all together. Zombie also offers a three dog version called the RIP Meine Drei-Hunde.