The itinerary is set for the 6th Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour. Every year I try to add some new stops as well as keeping some of the old ones that proved to be popular in the past. I've done the same this year. In the future the repeat stops will be rotated; in other words the places that we've gone to this year that have been repeated (with the exception of the Galloping Hill Inn) will be replaced with others that we haven't gone to recently. Either that or we will travel to a different region and hit a few entirely new places. This will be determined in the future.
This September we will be starting at The Galloping Hill Inn in Union. It's the only stop that's been on every Tour. In addition to serving one of the state's finest hot dogs, they provide great service (last year giving every attendee a free hot dog and soda) and allow us to use their big parking lot.
The stops in approximate order will be:
1) The Galloping Hill Inn, Union. They serve a German style beef and pork dog made by Grote & Weigel of Connecticut. One of the very few instances where a company makes a special recipe dog. This recipe was originally made by a small European butcher shop in Union. The dog is a fairly long 6 to a lb frank with casing. Prepared on a griddle and put on a larger football shaped bun. The GHI has a reputation for great dogs and sells a couple thousand every day. Recently named as Editors pick for best hot dog in N.J. by New Jersey Monthly.
2) Dee's Truck, Roselle Park We went last year for the first time and will be returning again this year. Perhaps the most popular stop (by show of hands) on last year's Tour. Dee serves a natural casing dirty water Sabrett beef dog. Many trucks, carts, and storfronts serve this type of dog, but none better than Dee's. It's a good size (many serve tiny skinless dogs), has a great snap and flavor. Her dogs are always fresh and served at the right temperature. Consistently excellent.
3) Lutz's Pork Store, Union. Lutz's is a full service European style butcher shop. This will be a new stop and somewhat unique as they are not a typical hot dog joint. They do make a great traditional German style frankfurter on the premises. The owner will be on hand to serve us some of these. You won't find a fresher hot dog anywhere. The franks, bratwurst, and other sausages are some of the finest you'll sample and are sold at King's, an upscale supermarket, as well as shipped all over the country via their website. Last year their franks were named Grand Reserve Champion by the American Association of Meat Processors. You can read about it here: http://www.germanvalleyfoods.com/id15.html
Lutz's has franks, wursts, and other goodies for sale, so bring a cooler. Their meats are top of the line.
4) Rahway Luncheonette, Rahway. Another new stop. An old time luncheonette that has been around since the 1920's. It reminds me of Father & Son's old location. A small place with a griddle facing the street. Not well known around the state, but popular locally for their hot dogs and chili. They serve a dog that we have not yet had on the Tour. It is a natural casing 8 to a lb Hatfield's New York style beef dog. Made in Pennsylvania but not even sold there because they prefer milder dogs in PA. This particular hot dog was made to compete with the spicy beef dogs like Sabrett, Best's, and Hebrew National in the New York/New Jersey area. It is beefy, spicy, and smoky with a good tight casing. Similar to Boars Head but with more flavor. One of the best all beef dogs. It's fairly new having only been introduced a few years ago. The 2 places that were named the best by this year's Munchmobile Team use this dog. But it's better at the Rahway Luncheonette. Grilled rather than boiled, it goes well with the chili. Which is much better than average.
5) The Garage, Millburn. A place so new, it's not even built yet! The owner assured me that they will open either late August or early September in time for our Tour. This place will be a renovated garage with a classic car theme. It will be family oriented serving hamburgers, hot dogs, shakes, and specialty ice cream. But the emphasis will be on hot dogs. The owner, Ted Stampoulos, owns the popular Martini Bar in Millburn. Years ago Ted and his brother owned a hot dog restaurant in nearby Maplewood. The dog that he will be serving is the same hot dog that is on the menu at the Martini Bar. This dog is known as the "Syd's dog". It's the exact same dog that made Syd's (RIP) famous. Considered by many, including myself and other past Tour attendees as the best, or one of the best hot dogs anywhere. Precious few places serve this dog. The Garage will be one. And they will be the only place I know of (with the exception of the Martini Bar) that serves it the exact same way as Syd's; boiled first, then charbroiled. A delicious 5 to a lb long natural casing dog from Best Provisions. I've had this dog at the Martini Bar and it's just like Syd's. Good news for the many people in the area who were Syd's customers and are heartbroken that they are gone.
6) Pappy's Diner, Totowa. A classic North Jersey Texas Weiner joint. Opened in the 1940's and remodeled a few years ago. Here is a picture dating back to the 60's or 70's. http://www.plusonegallery.com/Artwork-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=448&NewID=6663
Today Pappy's looks like a typical New Jersey diner. They have a regular diner menu as well, but are known for their Texas Weiners. They serve the Thumann's frank made for deep frying. The same as Rutt's, Libby's, Hiram's, and others. And they leave it in the oil for a sufficient period of time. A lot of places using this dog do not. What sets Pappy's apart from other places is their delicious chili or Texas Weiner sauce. It's best described as zesty with a nice blend of sweet and spicy flavors. Back in 06 when I visited 87 hot dog establishments with the Star Ledger, I voted Pappy's number 1 in the chili/Texas Weiner category. We all have our own tastes when it comes to chili. There's quite a variety as well. Pappy's chili is my favorite in New Jersey. In fact, there are only 2 others that I rate as high and you cannot get either at a hot dog restaurant in Jersey. One is from the Coney Island Restaurant in Middletown, N.Y. and the other is Roadfood member John Sagi's homemade chili.
I would rate Pappy's as the best Texas Weiner in Jersey. I have wanted to include them on the Tour for the last couple of years but the only thing holding me back was my concern that they wouldn't be able to handle our large group. In past posts I mentioned that my wife and I had to wait an unusually long time to be waited on, get our food, and get our check after eating. Our last time at Syd's on a past Tour the service was subpar. I don't want this to be our experience here. The woman who owns Pappy's promised me that we will be treated well. A section will be reserved for us and everyone will order at the register like we did at Manny's the last time rather than having a waitress wait on us.
7) Jimmy Buff's, East Hanover. Buff's has been on the Tour the last 2 years and will be again for this year as well. Jimmy was a great host and his place was popular among attendees. They have a nice dining area that will be set aside for us. Jimmy Buff's is the originator of the classic Newark Style Italian Hot Dog. It all began in 1932 with Jim's grandfather. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gQHPM9JtIY
Jimmy Buff's not only serves their signature Italian Hot Dog, but other dogs as well. And they're one of the very few places that does more than one thing and does all of them well. Also available here is the Syd's dog, but with a twist. Instead of heated in water, the dog is sauteed in oil and finished off on a charcoal grill. Placed in a tosted bun and topped with a tasty brown mustard, there is no dog better. Also served are smaller pushcart dogs that are fried, and a jumbo quarter pound Schickhaus German style beef and pork dog. This one also is exceptional. It is the dog served at the popular Max's in Long Branch as well as many stands at the Jersey Shore. At Buff's it's griddled first, then finished off on the charcoal grill. They have a very good homemade chili that was popular with attendees the last 2 years. Described as bolognese style by some, it is meaty with a nice sweet flavor and a touch of green pepper. One of my five favorite chilis. It goes well with their footlong (Syd's dog). Italian sausage sandwiches (prepared like an Italian Hot Dog with sausage instead of hot dogs), Italian hamburgers, regular hamburgers, chicken, and other choices are available.
This will be a fun day as it is evey year. Not just the food but the people is what makes this a special day. It's great to get together with old friends and make new ones. Benzee and myself have been in touch with people in the media. It's safe to say that there will probably be some kind of coverage this year. In the past our Tour was featured on NJMYWAY (see here for article and video: http://view.exacttarget.com/?j=fe8c12797160047571&m=fef710757c6600&ls=fdf815727062017876107774&jb=ffcf14
Past Tours were also covered by WTBQ radio station in New York where Benzee is a host, and the Herald News of Passaic County.
Check back here occasionally for news and updates regarding the Tour. I can't wait for September 26th!