We’re really big fans of Foursquare! It’s a social network that allows you to see where your friends are eating and drinking and having more fun than you—which often is right down the block. It’s based on the idea of “checking into” venues. Once you are checked in, your friends know where you are. If you’re kinda obsessed with local entertainment, like us, it’s fun (and extremely helpful) to see if your friends are hanging out at Schiller’s—while you’re finishing up your whiskey and Vernors at nearby Motor City Bar. (You can even follow us!) Each week or so, we catch up with one of Foursquare's most active NYC members.
The ubiquitous hot dog comes in one shape—but many styles. And as the summer gears up for cookouts and competitive pig-outs, we thought there was no better time to go beyond the dirty water dogs and focus on the more gourmet side of the dish. Bark, in Park Slope, is a great place to start, and who better to discuss the lovely "snap" of the meat and juiciness of each bite than the Foursquare mayor. But, wait a second. Nick Jensen is a vegan—though he still fanatically loves his dogs (veggie that is) and admitted to craving meat after we grilled him on his favorite places to dog and dash.
What keeps you coming back to Bark?
Their delicious hot dogs, burgers and a root beer, which haunts my dreams in a good way. Also, I appreciate their commitment to sustainability.
Does the incentive of a free dog for the mayor help?
It's both getting a free dog and the bragging rights that come along with being the mayor of Bark that definitely make me choose it when I'm undecided about where to eat.
What do you order?
I go back and forth between the veggie burger and the veggie dog. I pair that with an order of salt-and-pepper fries, and, of course, a root beer.
Describe the tube steaks' "snap"...
Actually, I'm a vegan.
I know that it's scandalous to be the mayor of a hot dog joint and not actually eat meat, but Bark makes a childhood favorite accessible again.
Pickled garlic mayo—it tickles your tongue!
What makes a killer hot dog?
Juiciness, consistency and toppings. If a hot dog is dry, it loses out on flavor, both meat and veggie. It should make your mouth salivate with anticipation, and the garnishes can make or break it. I usually use a ketchup, a spicy mustard or some kind of gourmet mayo or chopped onions.
How far would you go to get a good hot dog?
Luckily for me, Bark is in the neighborhood. But the farthest I've ever gone just to pursue a hot dog was to Coney Island for Nathan's. It was ultimately very satisfying, but I haven't made the trip for long time. I also go down near Alphabet City to get Crif Dogs. And, I have to give honorable mention to Asia Dogs, which makes a great veggie-friendly dog that I inhaled and immediately got back in line to get another while I was at Terminal 5 to see Florence And The Machine.
After a good dog, where do you go to wash it all down?
I have been known to head down the block to the Black Sheep Pub for a pint of Shock Top and a veggie burger with spicy fries.
Any other places in the hood you frequent?
I'm a huge fan of Gorilla Coffee, which has made me abandon my usual Manhattan coffee houses. I also like Cyprus Avenue, which has a live instrumental music periodically floating out the window onto Fifth Avenue.
What do you think about the nearby Atlantic Yards project?
It seems that the stadium is coming about 50 years too late and the ever-present delays in construction are not flattering to the neighborhood. That said, one of my favorite things about NYC is that it's always changing. Mistakes are made, beautiful buildings are torn down like the old Penn Station, and new eyesores are built like the Verizon building. But in the end, it's the spirit of New York that brings daring, controversial projects like the Atlantic Yards project to the table. Turbulence is the life force of the city. Without it, it would just be boring.
If you had a meeting with Foursquare, what would you tell them to do to improve their network?
I would tell them to get more restaurants to do what Bark does and offer great incentives to the loyal customers that become mayor at their establishments—especially bars and coffee houses. I would easily choose the one that rewards me for checking in than the one that doesn't.
Photo by Ryan Muir