Before this summer season there was really no question: Of course you would go to Nathan’s — Coney Island ’s towering behemoth, founded over 100 years ago across the street from the subway. The hot dogs are so much more scrumptious than at any of their sad franchises. Is it the smell of the sea in your nostrils and the sun beating down that makes them so delicious, heaped with kraut and thick grainy mustard?
But now we have Feltman’s. With much fanfare, a branch opened on St. Marks Place last year and more recently on Surf Avenue, a few blocks east of Nathan’s. Nathan Handwerker, the “Nathan” of Nathan’s, was a boardwalk vendor for Charles Feltman, who opened his stand in 1870, 46 years before Handwerker opened his. Feltman is sometimes credited with inventing the hot dog as we know it, even though the name suggests an antecedent in Frankfurt, Germany.