No, it’s not your imagination. Bronx Street in White Plains, a formerly desolate offshoot of Main St, is creepy no more. Its sole building, the city’s long-abandoned bus depot, has been transformed into a hot spot — or, more precisely, a hot dog spot called The Dog Den.
Drive by and it’s impossible not to stop and check out the scene. Outside, there’s seating for 30 at reclaimed wood tables made from the depot’s collapsed roof. The interior, which underwent a two-and-a-half-year gut renovation, seats six and features a wall of “famous Franks,” with photos of everyone from Frankie Valli to Bethenny Frankel.
And if you think those Franks are awesome, wait until you try the ones on offer here. The menu features 58 different hot dog combinations, with more on the way. “They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can,” says Dennis Rubich, The Dog Den’s 7’1” tall owner. (If you’re taller than he is, you get to eat for free. So far, no one has.)
You might, as I did, go for The Sweet Mary, a dog topped with caramelized onions, fig jam, and crumbles of sharp cheddar cheese. Sweet, salty, and umami all at once, it was like a meal with built-in dessert. My dining companions, a fellow adult and a teen, went for The Bacon Black & Blue (bacon, crumbled blue cheese, and sautéed onions), and a Plain Jane (ketchup), respectively. The latter really let the primary ingredients — a Sabrett all-beef hot dog cradled in a pillow-soft Martin’s potato bun — shine through. The wait for our food was short, but there were games like giant Connect 4 to play in the meantime.
Want to try the crowd favorites? “The Bill Murray [cole slaw, mustard, dill pickle, chopped tomato, shredded cheddar] is really popular,” notes Rubich. So is The Spicy Is Oh So Nicey, with chili, raw red onions, shredded Jack cheese, sriracha sauce, pepper flakes, and jalapeños.
Then there are the dare-ya-to-try-’em dogs like the ultra-hot Ivan’s Inferno, which wrapped in bacon and smothered with fresh jalapeños, fresh habañero, vinegar, and avocado. And it’s a badge of honor to consume The Fat Elvis, with its peanut butter, sweet grape jelly, and sliced banana embellishments. “People grimace every time they read the description,” Rubich laughs. “I say ‘please try it and let me know what you think.’ Then they come back and order it multiple times.”
All dogs are available fried, boiled, or grilled. The Dog Den also serves up a variety of tempting sides, including exemplary mac ’n’ cheese and sweet-but-not-too-sweet baked beans. More funky dogs are on the way, Rubich confides. “The Chippy Dippy is coming out. It’s going to have spinach dip, crushed Pringles, feta cheese, scallions, and everything bagel seeds.”
Also Coming out in droves are area residents. “We get a lot of people from the apartments,” Rubich says, gesturing towards the nearby high-rises. “People are meeting their neighbors from other floors here, and finally getting to talk to them. We’re bringing people together. Everyone loves a hot dog.”
The Dog Den
1 Main St (at Bronx St)
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