The Smoke Joint
87 S. Elliott Pl., nr. Lafayette Ave., Ft. Greene; 718-797-1011
Why would anyone in their right mind order a hot dog at a nice barbecue restaurant like Fort Greene’s Smoke Joint? Because before co-owner Craig Samuel opened the place, before his stint as chef at City Hall in Tribeca, and even before he entertained the idea of cooking for a living, he was a hot-dog freak of the first order. In his Proustian quest to conjure the franks of his Brooklyn youth, Samuel came across an obscure all-beef brand called Hatfield, dared to put it on his menu along with the ’cue, and watched it become an unlikely best seller. Credit a natural casing and proper grilling for the kind of juicy snap that makes grizzled hot-dog hounds shed a silent tear for the good old days on Coney Island. And note that you can have this toothsome tube steak topped with hacked chicken or pork, or simply swiped with mustard. It reaches its apotheosis in the off-the-menu “Joint Dog” treatment—deep-fried, grilled top-loading bun. Honorable mention: PDT’s new Chang Dog, named for the Momofuku man himself, combines three delicious things on one bun—a deep-fried dog, bacon, and Momofuku Ssäm Bar’s red kimchee.