Local Fourth of July Guide 2014

This year, you should go all out on the Fourth – relax, celebrate, and eat all of the patriotic foods you can find.

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I go all out on the Fourth of July. I dress from head to toe in patriotic garb (face paint included); I get sucked into Pinterest, gathering ideas for the cheesiest red, white and blue smoothies, shots, cakes and skewers I can find; I watch the full coverage of the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest; and I really, really love a good fireworks display.

This year, you should go all out too – relax, celebrate, and eat all of the patriotic foods you can find. Below, find our local Fourth of July guide for 2014, including recommendations for where to eat a hotdog, where to have a picnic, what to bring the host, and where to watch the fireworks.

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Layered shots and a smoothie from July 4th, 2012. 

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Where to Eat a Hot Dog

Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King

In our summer 2009 story “The Hot Dog,” we explored the importance of the frankfurter in New York’s history and culture, referencing iconic shops like Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King. There’s no need to choose between the two shops this Fourth – with Gray’s just east of Central Park and Papaya King just west, you can easily pick up a dog at one shop and eat it on a stroll through the park before picking up a second at the other.

Shake Shack

We can forgive Shake Shack for naming their Shack-cago dog after another city because of how much we love them for topping it with relish from Rick’s Picks. The hot dog is split and cooked on the griddle, and it’s (usually) worth however long the line may be. Round off the meal with their dark chocolate, cranberry and cinnamon chocolate bar, specially designed for Shake Shack by Mast Brothers.

Asia Dog

For the less traditional, Asia Dog offers an entire menu of Asian-inspired hot dogs. You can choose an organic beef, chicken or veggie dog as a base and top it with combinations like Kimchi and Seaweed Flakes or Chinese BBQ Pork Belly and Onions. Find them at Broadway Bites market or at their storefront in Little Italy.

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Where to Have a Picnic

There’s no bad place to picnic in Manhattan, but this year, consider choosing your spot around Picnycs list of delivery locations. By delivering custom picnic baskets to your spot on the grass, they’ll help you spend your day off as lazily as possible. They’ll deliver anything you need – sandwiches, salads, lemonade, etc. – all made with produce from local greenmarkets, co-ops and community gardens. They currently deliver to several locations in Central Park and along the Hudson River. Check out the full list here.

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What to Bring the Host

S’mores from S’more Bakery

In 2011, Sarah Warren launched S’more Bakery to bring a bit of artisanship to the nostalgic sweet treat. A pack of s’mores supplies have always made a great summer gift, but S’more Bakery allows you to have fun with flavor pairings: in their S’moregasm package, they layer a bourbon-Madagascar vanilla bean marshmallow and Callebaut semisweet chocolate ganache between cinnamon sugar and clover honey graham crackers.

Rectangular Domestic Wood Serving & Cutting Board from Yoav Liberman

A cutting board makes the perfect gift for the host who has everything. Yoav Liberman makes his cutting boards from local discarded wood and finishes them with organic flaxseed oil, so they are both food-safe and functional. Yoav sells his hard maple and cherry boards through the Food52 Provisions shop.

The Bloody Mary Spice Master Collection from La Boîte

In winter 2013, we profiled Lior Lev Sercarz – “Manhattan’s maestro of spice blends,” – whose shop La Boîte Biscuits and Spice offers more than 40 custom spice blends. Lior’s Bloody Mary collection contains four blends, and each is designed specifically to pair with a different alcohol base. If you’re feeling fancy, combine the spices with a bottle (or four) of indie spirits from Mouth to make for a memorable gift for any cocktail lover. Bonus: red cocktails are patriotic cocktails.

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Where to Watch the Fireworks

This year, the Macy’s fireworks display will move from a five-year stint on the Hudson back to its location on the East River, so New Yorkers who’ve missed out on the view will get their chance to see the fireworks again. The fireworks will be launched from the Brooklyn Bridge and three barges in the East River, which makes the southeast tip of Manhattan (or anywhere near Dumbo/ Brooklyn Bridge Park) ideal for viewing. Unless you know someone that lives in a building with a rooftop in lower Manhattan, South Street Seaport makes for the perfect viewing spot.

Photo Credit: Facebook / Shake Shack

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When Marissa was a little girl, she threw her bottle and pacifier down the stairs and begged for "real food." More than two decades later, her passion for real food has grown into a part of her everyday life. Marissa graduated in May 2014 with a Masters in Food Studies from NYU, where she focused her research on food politics and food culture. She has taught children’s nutrition, gardening and cooking classes for the past four years, and she will spend the next academic year as a FoodCorps service member in Guilford County, North Carolina.