Wandering around Manhattan looking for hot dogs a few weeks ago, I randomly came across this mind-blowingly authentic Ukranian meat market in the East Village. (This is what I love about New York.) Not that we don't have things like this in my home base of Philadelphia, but they're hidden way out in Port Richmond or south Philly; anything like this that ever existed in Center City was gutted and turned into a dollar store sometime back in the 1970s.
At first I was worried—the front window was full of mostly baked goods. But once inside you can't miss the dangling ropes of various cured and encased meats and white-coated attendants furiously wrapping bundles of sausage in butcher paper. (Apparently the health department cracked down on window meats in 2006.) There were a few signs right off the bat that this stuff was going to be good. Getting yelled at for taking pictures, and being asked "that's it?" with a sad frown after ordering "only" several pounds of Kielbasa and Kabanosy.
Walking out of the shop, I remembered I was on my way to Atlantic City, and would spend the next three hours filling the sketchy casino bus with the smell of garlic and smoked meat. The half dozen senior citizens and ponytailed poker guys drinking out of paper bags didn't seem to mind.
We ate the Kabanosy raw that night along with lots of beer. I'm told this is the way to go; in Philly they call it "Polish Slim Jim." Mildly garlicky and smokey, and juicy enough that you're not sure if you should be eating it uncooked.
The kielbasa was grilled up the next morning for breakfast. I hammered the outside a bit, but it was actually really good with a little char—crisp on the outside yet still juicy in the middle. Amazing with some scrambled eggs and good Jersey bagels, the kind that are so good, you get yelled at for toasting them. Last meal (or at least last breakfast?) material here folks.
Baczynsky's is comparable to some of the stuff I love in Philly but milder - kielbasa from the various Polish port richmond spots tends to be so smokey and garlic-choked that you smell like a campfire for a week after eating it. Which I love, but Baczysky's might be a good choice for anyone planning on talking to another human being after consumption.
J Baczynsky East Village Meat Market
139 2nd Avenue, New York, NY (map) 212-228-5590
Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.