Photo by Scott Lynch
Aug 10, 2021
Drag it through the garden! Chicago-style dogs come to Windsor Terrace
Dog Day Afternoon serves excellent, loaded-up hot dogs, fries, floats, and shakes
In the movie “Dog Day Afternoon,” things go horribly wrong for would-be bank robber Sonny Wortzik (played, iconically, by Al Pacino). At Dog Day Afternoon, the new Windy City-style hot dog stand in Windsor Terrace, everything seems to be locking into place.
“It’s like a dream come true,” says co-owner Jay Kerr, who along with partner Joe Boyle, opened the supremely satisfying new hot dog joint on Prospect Park West last week. “We had no way of knowing that it would be this perfect, and it felt like the universe just gave it to us.”
Co-owner Boyle explains: “We had the LLC for the Dog Day Afternoon name, and after our first storefront fell through we were looking all over Brooklyn for another spot, and we ended up, just by fate, right across the street from where they filmed the movie.”
In fact the exterior scenes of the 1975 Sidney Lumet classic were shot all over the block. The location of the heist itself, which was actually a warehouse made to look like a bank, is now a row of condos. But the neighborhood has not forgotten their moment in the Hollywood spotlight. (In some cases it’s almost impossible to ignore: In some shots you can clearly see a bar called Gerard’s; today the ghost letters are still visible over a children’s dance studio on the corner of 17th Street.)
“People come in and point to the photo here [and say things like], ‘That’s me, I was the sniper on the fire escape’,” Kerr says. “Or, ‘that’s me. I almost got fired from being a butcher because I was getting paid to be an extra.’ Or, ‘I remember my dad was in it, he was a fireman.’ There’s this sense here of a shared memory of that time, when they were younger or their parents were still alive. It’s like this magical moment.”
So the name gives them an instant in with the locals, but, crucially for their long-term success, the Dog Day Afternoon menu is wall-to-wall winners. The dogs themselves are Chicago’s Vienna Beef brand (Boyle is from Oak Park, just outside the city there), and have that nice snap and smokiness to them. And the substantial buns are pleasantly soft, peppered with poppy seeds and sprinkled with celery salt, and hold up well to the onslaught of accoutrements.
The chili dog ($7) is overflowing with Boyle’s beefy, homemade stew and gooey melted cheese; the Polish ($9) is a monster, a kielbasa split and griddled with onions, then finished with mustard and hot peppers. Finally, the classic Chicago dog ($6) has all the regional toppings: pickles, tomatoes, onion, peppers—even that weird neon-green relish shipped in special from the Windy City. All three are great.
Don’t sleep on fries, either. A big box of perfectly crisp-and-fluffy potatoes goes for $4. The root beer float was a revelation, a sweet, creamy, fizzy throwback.
The interior is decked out like some sort of a nostalgic treasure hunt, with 1970s and ’80s movie stills, posters, and head shots. There’s a vintage Ms. Pac Man console and a rack of used vinyl for sale. There’s no seating inside—the place is tiny, and can really only fit a couple of customers ordering at any given time—but benches on the sidewalk right outside provides a handy perch at which to wolf down your dogs.
The lack of a dine-in option hasn’t deterred the locals from showing up in droves. “I’ve met more people in the past two months than I have in the past two years,” says Boyle. “And this is my neighborhood, too, my kids are growing up here. It’s just really nice to have them be a part of that.
“Knowing everyone, saying hi to everybody, giving high-fives to kids, we’re so happy to be here, and be a part of this community,” concurs Kerr. “But now what we really want, so badly, is for Al Pacino to come in and eat a hot dog.”
Your move, Al.
Dog Day Afternoon is located at 266 Prospect Park West, between Prospect Avenue and 17th Streets, and is currently open from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. daily.
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