Hot!New Jersey Hot Dogs

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John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/16 15:24:13 (permalink)
I've been meaning to get to Barth's. I've heard that the dogs are very good. Have you ever had the dogs at Kocher's Meat Market in Ridgefield? They're the ones served at Karl Ehmer's in Hillsdale. I had alsways thoght that the German dogs there were made by Karl Ehmer's. They use Kocher's for the German style and their own (karl Ehmer's) for all beef.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/17 09:38:02 (permalink)
Ninth outing, 7/18

41) World's First Italian Hot Dogs Inc., 14th Ave. Newark

This storefront is the location of the original Jimmy Buff's. In all probability, the very first place serving the popular Newark Style Italian Hot Dog. Opened in 1932. I don't know how long it was a Jimmy Buff's, but sometime later the place was sold to Lou Biancala. It was then known as Lou's. Sold again to the man who was running the store for Lou. I had heard about Lou's through a year end Munchmobile roundup some years ago. About 2 years ago I went there to find it closed due to a fire. I had thought that it was gone for good. Then someone posted about it opening up again. I had gone there once this Spring prior to being on the Munchmobile S.W.A.T. Team. I was somewhat disappointed because there were no peppers served with the sandwich. At the time, the price of peppers had gone up, and some Jimmy Buff locations weren't including them. To me, this was a mistake. Peppers are an important part of an Italian Hot Dog and shouldn't be left out. Either absorb the price increase or pass it on to your customers. All of the other Italian Hot Dog restaurants continued to include them without a price increase. It's almost like a pizzeria leaving out cheese because the price went up. I didn't ask if they purposely left the peppers out or if they had simply run out that day.

I was happy to find that there were peppers when we went as a team. The set up is similar to Jimmy Buff's and other places that use the tilted steel pan to fry all of the ingredients. The sandwich itself was very good, taking 3rd place in the Italian Hot Dog category. The bread here was especially good; fresh and very chewy. The dogs were the perfect size, 8 to a lb Best's. Green peppers were good, but there could have been more of them. The potatoes were the same as what you would get at Jimmy Buff's although they should have been cooked a little more. All in all, a very good Italian Hot Dog. I would suggest that you use caution if you come here. It's in a very bad crime ridden neighborhood.

42) Charlies Famous Italian Hot Dogs, Michigan Ave. Kenilworth

Charlies was originally a Jimmy Buff's. In the early sixties it was sold to a man named Charlie, who also bought another Italian Hot Dog restaurant in nearby Union that was formerly known as Dees. Dees became Charlies Son's, which is no longer in business. Charlies Famous was sold by Charlie to the father of the current owner.

By way of disclosure, let me state that my daughter worked at Charlies all throughout high school and occasionally in college. I am very familiar with their product, and have eaten more Italian Hot Dogs there then anywhere else. I've often been accused of giving good reviews and saying good things about Charlies because my daughter worked there. This is not true as I always give my honest opinion regardless of whether I know or am friends with the owner, or if a friend or relative works in the establishment. For awhile when my daughter was working there, the potatoes were bad and I mentioned it. The owner also switched from Best to Sabrett, which I felt lessened the quality of the sandwich. And I mentioned it. They are back to using Best.

Let me also say that I am no longer on good terms with the owner. I don't know if it's appropriate to get into it here, but if you would like to know more, feel free to e-mail me.

Charlies was always my favorite Italian Hot Dog. For years I considered it the best along with Tommy's. But I preferred Charlies. Good bread, 8 to a lb dogs (Tommy's used 10's) the best tasting peppers (plenty of them; both red and green) and excellent potatoes. The only potatoes that were better were Tommy's. But until recently, Tommy's put precious few peppers on thir sandwich. And they were hard rather than soft. But Tommy's has improved (bigger dogs, more peppers prepared soft if you ask) while Charlies has gone downhill.

I'm sad to say that Charlies has changed, and for the worse. The owner is looking to sell the business and is very rarely there. When I was going there consistently, service was excellent as well as the product. Young people for the most part worked there, but they were all good employees providing fast and efficient service. Now the service is horrible; among the worse that we have encountered all summer. It took more than 25 minutes to get a chili dog for Pete. The rest of us had single Italian Hot Dogs. You could say that maybe it was an off night, but I've been there many times until recently when I decided to stop going, and service has been bad consistently.

As for the product, let me say that if you go, you may still get a good sandwich. But don't count on it. I know people from work who still go and they complain about the inconsistency of the potatoes. And the bread isn't always fresh. My daughter told me that towards the end of her employment there, they would freeze unused bread. It would fall apart when eating it and of course, wouldn't be as good.

The first time we went to Charlies we couldn't get in. They list their hours as being open untill 8:00 Mon and Tues, 9:00 Wed thru Sat. We went on Tuesday at 7:30 and were turned away. This wouldn't have happenned 2 years ago. Anyway, about our experience there. Service was slow, and there were mixed reviews about the dogs. Some were down on it because the bread was stale. Mine fell apart and was no doubt frozen. The dog itself was fine and the peppers were as good as they've always been. Which is better than any other place. The potatoes were good, but not as good as they've been in the past. At their best, they were almost as good as Tommy's potatoes.

I'm very disappointed that a place that was my favorite has taken a turn for the worse. Hopefully the place will be sold and the new owner can restore Charlies to its former status as the state's premier Italian Hot Dog. It didn't even place top three.

43) Manny's Texas Weiners, Springfield Ave. Union

Manny's has been in Union since the late 70's. It was recently remodeled and has plenty of indoor seating. They serve an excellent breakfast reasonaby inexpensive. A few years ago New Jersey Monthly named Manny's as having the best eggs in the state. My family likes going there more for breakfast than for their hot dogs. Which are fine by the way.

Many of the people like Manny who've opened their own place were former grillmen at the original Texas Weiner l or Texas Weiner ll. The style of dog is known as the Plainfield area Texas Weiner, which is grilled rather than deep fried, and uses a thicker, less clovey/cinammony chili than the North Jersey or "Hot" Texas Weiner joints. The brand of dog used is the Grote & Weigel Griddle Frank. It comes 6 to a lb with natural casing. The chili differs slightly at each place but is very similar overall.

In my comment to the Star Ledger, I said that Manny's is similar to every other place that uses the G&W dog and grills it. I like Manny's a little better than most because it is fairly close to my home, competitive in price to other places serving the same product, and the chili is spicy, but not too spicy for my taste.

44) J&G Texas Weiners, Dunellen

Same type of dog as Manny's, in fact the owner of J&G and Manny are brothers. Each, of course, claims that his dogs are better. Same dog, prepared the same way. Only difference was the chili. I didn't like it here. Too spicy, and there were big onions in it, which I hate. Myself and one other member liked Manny's better, the rest preferred J& G's.

45) Red Tower ll, Rt 22 East, North Plainfield

Another Plainfield style Texas Weiner. Same dog, same preparation, etc. No one liked the chili. It was horrible with a very harsh flavor. Tasted sort of like a thick mustard. Only one person liked the dog itself. Bad service, undercooked dog. If you're in the area, avoid this place and go about a mile or 2 west on rt 22 to Texas Weiner ll in Greenbrook. Better chili, although the service is also bad. Better yet, forget both places, go West on Rt 22 past Texas Weiner ll, go past the White Castle, go around the jug handle for the King Georges Rd. exit, take that to the end of the street, and on your left is Middlesex Texas Weiner. We did not go here with the Munchmobile, but I've been here myself several times. Dog cooked sufficiently, better chili, better service, better price. Although I've said that most of these places are very similar, (G&W dog grilled, thick chili) if I had to pick one that I liked the best, it would be this one.
ken8038
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/17 21:40:16 (permalink)
<<Have you ever had the dogs at Kocher's Meat Market in Ridgefield? >.

I was at Kocher's several years ago, in response to a write up in the NY Times. Sorry, but I don't really remember much about the dogs, this was before I started taking notes on every place I went to. I do remember it was a fairly typical "German Deli" set up. And the Pastor of my sister's Church in Brooklyn makes the drive from Brooklyn to Kocher's several times a year to stock up for church functions. And he knows food (it's one of the few things we have in common, if you get my drift). ---Ken
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/27 20:59:08 (permalink)
sorry if this is redundent but i am new to my area as i am from the shore and have been to the following places down there in no order though the place i am going to list first is my favorite: wonder weiner on route 9/atlantic city boulevard in pine beach/beachwood is a small trailer that makes a whale of an italian hot dog!! i have been to max's, several windmills and stewart's, a hot dog joint that is fairly new on mantoloking road in that area of bricktown and few other that i am forgetting. when i was young, we used to go to a pushcart stand on fischer blvd in toms river called whitey's. he had the best sabrett's in the world!!! sad times when he passed away as he was a nice guy too. even though i live up north i am in sales down in ocean , monmouth and middlesex counties so i can still frequent a few of these places.

up north, i have been to rutt's hut several times since my folks were from up here and always carted us there- i am usually good for 3 or 4!! i have been to hot dog johnny's and thought it was over rated, i have been to toby's cup, red tower in bridgewater, texas weiner ll(i guess that is the one on 22 in green brook area?), and even before i moved to fanwood i had gone to the route 22 jimmy buffs about 4 years back and was grossed out, as the minute we walked out a woman behind the counter lit up a cigarette right in the place. ugh....

anyway, i saw a list of hot dog joints on the hollyeats site and wanted to investigate but read recent posts and am a little skeptical. i am looking to get a good italian style dog in the pizza bread but also wouldn't mind finding a good regular dog in the style of a windmill-type place around here. should i try syd's and charlie's famous?

p.s. my bro just moved back to nj and lives in ft lee right by hiram's so i have to try that once i get up there to see him!!!

p.s.s. earlier today, i think i went by where frank n fries was in rahway and the signage was down. did this place go out of business? i was going to try it...

enough of my ramblings....
ScreenBear
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/28 00:05:35 (permalink)
Foobuc,
You can get two of the very best franks in New Jersey less than a first down from each other, but there won't be any seating. Both are walk-up windows.

On Second Ave. in Elizabeth, just a few feet from Elizabeth Ave., are Tommy's, the Munchmobile SWAT team's choice for best Italian Hot Dog, and Jerry's, serving one of the finest dirty water dogs in the state. Both use Best hot dogs. Jerry's uses an 8-to-a-lb. natural casing, while Tommy's serves the traditional Best skinless, considered the dog of realm for Italian Hot Dogs.

Charlie's in Kenilworth is also a good choice for an Italian hot dog.

For an exemplary Sabrett dirty water dog from around lunchtime until about 2:30 p.m. or so, try Dee's Hut, a truck on Faitoute Ave., Roselle Park, N.J., not far from Westfield Ave.

If up for a decent, nicely prepared Texas Weiner, try Middlesex Texas Weiner, Middlesex, N.J. This nicely kept diner type restaurant serves one of the two best renditions of this favorite in the local area. While very representative of the classic, N.J. Texas wiener taste, their chili is relatively mild. Whereas Texas Weiner I, in the heart of downtown Plainfield, serves one with a bit hotter chili.

Hiram's, as you mentioned, is always a treat. Their chilidog has won accolades from the press as well. Can’t beat that toasted bun and funky atmosphere, either. Plus, you can get a beer.

Syd's, currently taking up residence in Springfield on Morris Avenue in a luncheonette called Tony's Place after losing their lease in Vauxhall, serves what many dog fanciers consider the Eastern Hot Dog Aficionado's frankfurter of choice...what one Munchmobiler cited as the Sugar Ray Robinson of dogs. That is, pound for pound the best.

While the Syd's insert menu at Tony's now only features a few items from the former restaurant, the dogs are the same: Best, 5-to-a-lb., natural casing, cooked the same way since the original Syd dropped a frank in boiling water and then finished it on the grill some 60 years ago.

For a slightly different treat, try Tony's Truck in Branchbrook Park, Newark, N.J. He uses a Golden D Frank, a dog rapidly gaining favor in NYC, and understandably so. It's cooked dirty water style. But the real treat at Tony's, aside from the sudden service and ready snap of the Golden D, is his hot onions. They're unique, and hot!
Well, that's a start.

For a more detailed and knowledgeable account of N.J.'s hot dog emporiums, read John Fox's installments of his SWAT Team Munchmobile escapades right here in the New Jersey Hot Dogs forum. Good luck.
The Bear
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/28 13:10:08 (permalink)
Thanks ScreenBear! i took your advice and moseyed on out to Tommy's and then Jerry's in Elizabeth around noon. It was interesting getting there as i am still new to this area but well worth finding. I ordered Tommy's first since i thought it would take longer. got it and walked over to Jerry's. I didn't realize they are practically neighbors!! i wolfed down 1 plain and 1 w/ relish at Jerry's. Tasted great and the buns were fresh. then i took Tommy's back to my car and ate that!! boy am i full. I got an double italian w/o onions at Tommy's. the peppers were so fresh! the potatoes i thought were a little greasy as compared to what i am used to getting from wunder weiner down in south jersey but they were still good. I ate all of that also. i would definitely go back to both of those stands!! thi is going to hurt the diet come 1/1/07!
Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/29 10:04:13 (permalink)
Hey Foobuc ,
Welcome to the Hot Dog community .
Tommys and Jerrys have been on the last three Jersey Hot Dog Tours and certainly are a find .
Excellent both in their own ways .

Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/29 14:55:23 (permalink)
thanks! any idea when the next hot dog tour will be so i can blow my about-to-start-on 1/1/07 diet?
Matt Gleason
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/29 18:13:15 (permalink)
Have some hot dogs and walk a little extra! LOL I'm going on the same diet!
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/29 18:40:57 (permalink)
Hey Foobuc ,
Its a good bet that Sat. Sept 15th , 2007 is the next fullblown motorcoach tour .
We will also be having mini meets and gatherings throughout the year .
Anytime you would like to come to Middletown , I'm sure Coney Island Lou and myself can show you around .
Check out the Misc. Foods section for any upcoming gatherings as the powers that be do not want those on this thread . Go figure
Email me or CI Lou for more info if you like

Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/29 20:09:30 (permalink)
Any room on that diet for one more? But it's not until January 1, right?
The Bear
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/30 10:21:48 (permalink)
Hey Bear ,
Looks like a few of us are looking at 1/1/07 for the diet .
Good luck to fellow Doggers in the quest

Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/30 17:02:57 (permalink)
ok, i had to drop off some liquor and wine to a coworkers account today and though it is not in my territory, it is by my house(the place is in Mountainside NJ). So i took a "detour" back home and drove through Kenilworth and remembered that Charlie's is there. Found it and got a double italian, peppers & mustard w/ no onions. in my opinion, i thought that Tommy's was better though Charlie's was pretty good. It had a little too much mustard for my liking and i thought Tommys hot dogs tasted better. I still think that the Wunder Weiner trailer on the Bayville/Pine Beach/Beachwood border is right up there with these places. Any hot dog fanatics ever gone to W.W??? They always have a line between 1130-130PM or so. Ok i gotta go relax as my "busy" season is officially over!!!!
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/31 00:32:37 (permalink)
Benzee,
Fellow hot doggers. Happy New Year! May all your dogs be hot and have the proper snap. May the frankfurter purveyors be of good cheer, prompt, interesting and respectful of your passion. May their prices be reasonable, their bathrooms clean.

May the relishes be tangy, the mustards piquant, the sauerkraut sauerkrauty and the buns so fresh and nicely toasted that you think they just baked them in back.

And if you can keep those dogs from putting any weight on us, that'd be good, too. Healthy and happy.
Bear
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/31 11:49:26 (permalink)
Well said, Bear. Happy New Years to all. I'll be moseying down to Wegmans today to get some Sahlen's hot dogs. I'm off work until Wednesday, so I hope to post some more reviews from the summer of S.W.A.T. as well as a review of an excellent Italian Hot Dog I had this week. Best wishes to all.
John
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/12/31 14:36:49 (permalink)
i got my last fix of the year in but wanted to save room for tonight. i snuck over to jimmy buff's(don't tell my wife) which is practically across the street from where i live(scotch plains area) and got a single w/ peppers and potatoes and some mustard. very oily compared to the others i have had. hot dog was a little on the mushy side. everyone have a great 2007!!!
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/01 12:14:42 (permalink)
Tenth outing, 7/21

46) Charlies Pool Room, Alpha

Another marathon day of hot dog eating. We hit 10 places in all. First stop, Charlies Pool Room. Hands down the most unique hot dog place in New Jersey, which it won a Coney for. I voted for J's Beef because I was thinking of the most unique dog. J's is the only place in the state that serves an authentic Chicago Style Hot Dog with the ingredients shipped in from Chicago. But the category was for Unique Hot Dog Place, which Charlies Pool Room has to be. It has an old hardwood floor with one pool table, one table for eating, a tiny kitchen where the dogs are prepared in a frying pan, a pinball machine, a small room where there is a barber shop which is no longer being used, and a jail in the basement! Also no longer being used. Charlies is a one of a kind type of place that has to be seen to be believed. When I go somewhere for a dog, I go for the dog itself and place little emphasis on history, popularity, reputation, atmosphere, etc. I know that these all add to the experience, but for me it's all about the dogs. If there is ever a place that I would go to for the overall experience as much, or more than the dog itself, (which is pretty good, by the way) it would be here. I think everyone should experience it.

As for the dog served, it is a typical West Jersey/East Pennsylvania type dog. A mild beef/pork dog (Kunzler's skinless 10 to a lb) served with yellow mustard and dill pickle slices. I've had the Kunzler dog at a few places in West Jersey and it is ok. Doc's in Alpha (out of business now) served them on a roller grill. Sammy's in Lopatcong deep fried them. Charlies pan fries them. Out of the three, Charlies tastes the best. But what sets Charlies Pool Room apart other than the place itself is Grandma Fencz's secret Hungarian sauce. It consists of onions and tomatoes. I've never had it because I hate onions, but those who have love it. It's considered much better than the Sabrett onions or the other name brands sold in the supermarkets like Thumanns or Boars Head. Brothers John and Joe Fencz are the owners and only people working here. Their grandmother began making the sauce in 1925.

According to the S.W.A.T. Team, it makes for one great dog. Joe told me that without the sauce, the dog would be just an ordinary dog. I disagree. It's fresh and prepared well. I would consider it a cut above most deep fried dogs. And that's without the special sauce. Those who like red onion sauce will probably love Charlies version. The team did. My wife did. And so do the many people who travel from all over the state to come to Charlies Pool Room. Charlies received some votes for best deep fried dog. The owners are friendly, the place is unique, the dogs are good, and the price is under a buck. I highly recommend a visit to Charlies Pool Room. For a great review, check out http://www.HollyEats.com.

47) Hot Rod's, Glen Gardner

Rodney Heft has owned Hot Rod's for the last couple of years. I think it was a hot dog restaurant before he owned it. In my opinion, this was one of the 3 worst hot dogs I've had all summer, coming in between Tido's (the absolute worst) and The Old Heidelburg. Part of the reason is that the dog is a boiled Turkey hot dog. I don't like dogs containing turkey, chicken, or tofu. If you like turkey dogs, you might like this one. I didn't, and neither did most of the team. The one or 2 members who did, liked the dogs because of the chili. I took one bite and threw the rest in the garbage. The owner doesn't volunteer the fact that he serves a turkey dog.

The dogs are served boiled or steamed, but are available grilled or deep fried upon request. Rod the owner is quite the showman (showboat?) and takes pride in preparing and wrapping the dogs with lightning speed. He did, however, make a mistake with mine and wasn't too happy when I pointed it out. The dogs are served with mustard, pickles, and onions. I requested mine without onions. It came with them. I told Rod that I wanted them without onions, but with the mustard and pickles. Not 5 seconds later he threw another dog in my hand. This one was without onions, but also without the pickle, which I wanted. When I pointed this out, he became a little angry and made a face. I guess he realized later that his place was being reviewed and his attitude might be mentioned, so he came running out when we were about to leave and gave us all free t shirts. Which was a nice gesture. But didn't make up for the lousy dogs. I would stay away unless you actually like Turkey dogs. The ones used here are Kunzler brand that you can buy in any supermarket.

48) Sal's Dog House, Clark.

Sal's hot dog truck has been around for a little over 2 years. I've been there quite a few times since it's in the same town that I work in. I remember reading on a forum that the chili was awful. I had never been there, so I ran down to check it out, and it was indeed horrible. They have since changed the chili, and it is quite good. Very spicy, sort of like Father & Son. As for the dogs themselves, they are dirty water Sabrett's with a natural casing. Too small at 12 to a lb, and overpriced. But very fresh, hot, and tasty. I'd rather go elsewhere to get a bigger dog cheaper, but when I'm in the area and hungry, I stop in for a few. If you can get past the small size, these dogs are as good as there are for natural casing dirty water Sabrett's. And better than 4 of the 5 other places we hit today serving dirty water Sabrett's.

49) Petey's Weenies, St Georges Ave. (rt 35) Colonia

Petey's is a truck located on busy St. Georges Ave. He's only been in business for a year or 2. Small 12 to a lb natural casing Sabrett's. These dogs were bland and had little snap from being in the water too long. Surprisingly, one member had this dog in their top 3 for best dirty water dog. Easily one of the worst in this style. If you're in this area, Sal's and Munce's are minutes away and much better choices.

50) Stewart's Root Beer, St Georges Ave. (rt 27) Rahway

Minutes away from Petey's (Munce's and Sal's also) is Stewart's Root Beer. This stand has been here a long time, and for at least the last few years has been open year round. We dined on hot dogs, and of course, root beer. There was some grumbling among the team because there were no frosted mugs for the root beer. The dogs served here are the 6 to a lb natural casing Thumann's grillers. Years ago they were prepared on a griddle. If done right, there is no better beef and pork dog. Here, the dogs are deep fried. Some places do deep fry the griller, even though Thumann's makes a dog specifically for deep frying. The dog was ok, but would have been much better grilled. I don't know if the dog spent enough time in the oil beccause it came out fairly bland for a Thumann's. Most of the team didn't care much for the dog, calling it mediocre or bland. One member liked the cheese and bacon dog.

51) Munce's, St. Georges Ave. (rt 27 Rahway)

Munce's truck has been in the same location outside the Rahway Park for years. Different people working there and a new owner, but the same truck and the same dogs. Many people are glad that the grouchy guy who worked at Munce's for years is gone. The dog here is an 11 to a lb natural casing Sabrett. Average dog, nothing special. This was the opinion of myself as well as the team. The chili was sweet and mild. I liked it. Others were indifferent.

52) Dees Hut, Faitoute Ave. Roselle Park

Another truck. Dee Costanza took over in 1973 when her father retired. I've been here many times as it's the closest hot dog truck or cart to where I live. Dee serves a 10 to a lb natural casing Sabrett dirty water style. This is the perfect size for a Sabrett dirty water dog since the 8 to a lb Sabrett's are mushy. Dee is one of the few people serving the 10's rather than the saller 11, 12, or 13's. The dogs are also hot enough and always fresh. A good snap to the casing as well. This is my favorite place that serves a dirty water Sabrett. There were 2 others that were as good, but both are quite a distance from my home. I get mine with just mustard. The chili here is not good, so I avoid it.

I was surprised to find that the other members of the S.W.A.T. team, with the exception of one other guy, didn't like this dog. The 2 of us who do come here frequently. The others, except for Pete were only here on this day. If you're in Union County, there's no better dirty water Sabrett. In fact, I don't think there's any better in the rest of Jersey.

53) Tommy's Hot Dogs, Roosevelt Ave. Carteret

Tommy's is literally a shack. With a screen door and shingle roof. Sort of looks like the junkyard in Sanford & Son. Tommy Lane started out with a cart in Rahway years ago and eventually moved to his current location. He got the Coney for Most Heart. He puts a lot of heart and soul into his work, and has been serving his loyal customers for years. His wife and son also help run the place. We were there quite awhile as they ran out of hot dogs just before we showed up. We waited patiently for Tommy to return, talking with his wife and son. The team liked the truckstop-like setting and the dogs, which were 11 to a lb natural casing Sabrett's. I thought the dogs and chili were average. Most liked the chili. I don't recall what it tasted like, but my notes said average. Tommy does well in Carteret. I think it's the only hot dog joint in the area.

54) Mr. Dees, Sayreville

Mr. Dees is a small, clean hot dog restaurant that started out as a hot dog cart. The original cart is still there on the front lawn. The dogs are small, 12 to a lb, natural casing dirty water Sabrett's. You can also get your dog deep fried or griddled if you ask. I had mine boiled. In addition to being too small, the dog wasn't served hot enough. The chili was mushy with a very harsh flavor. I would avoid Mr. Dees and go to Bears, which is a mile or 2 away. Or Nagle's, which is also in the area, but unfortunately wasn't there the day we went out because of the rain.

55) Top Dog, Metuchen

Top Dog opened early in the year, and last I heard is already out of business. Too bad, because they served a unique and tasty dog. A nice little restaurant serving a natural casing 8 to a lb Hatfield Angus beef dog. It was prepared on a griddle and was a welcome change of pace to the dirty water Sabrett's that we were eating all day. Unfortunately, Nagles truck in Sayreville was closed, and he too served the Hatfield Angus dog dirty water style from his truck. This dog has a good spicing, with a unique smoky flavor. Made to compete with Sabrett and the all beef dogs served in East Jersey and New York, this is one fine dog, and in my opinion, the best of the day. Too bad Hatfield's other franks aren't as good.

The dog is served on a toasted bun. The chili is ordinary, but the coleslaw was excellent. Some of us put it on our dogs. Overall, this dog was well liked by the team. Too bad Top Dog is gone.





foobuc
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/02 17:25:02 (permalink)
someone at work told me that that place "Frank's" (I think thats the name) on Route 1 in the Woodbridge/Edison area was knocked down recently. i was there once and i thought it was a good italian hot dog. that place was there for years and you never knew if it was open or closed!!! Can anyone confirm this?
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/02 19:47:16 (permalink)
Frank's is gone.
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/05 00:53:17 (permalink)
Went to both Tommy's and Jerry's on Second ave in Elizabeth,I had a chili cheese dog and a double Italian at Tommy's,the chili cheese dog was ok,nice size dog,Best's natural casing,I thought the italian was very good,only wish he would have cooked the potatoes the way I asked
well done,the bread and vegetables were also very good. Then went over to Jerry's,the dogs were Best's but seemed smaller in size than what I just ate a few doors down the block,the first one I had was just with mustard,same great taste,but no snap from the natural casing
dog? I ordered one more with chili and cheese and two with everything,
and a can of coke,expecting to pay $6.75, the 4 dogs a $1.50 each and the soda listed at .75,the gentleman told me the one with just mustard
is $1.50,the chili cheese is $1.75 and the two with everthing are $2.00 each,didn't mind paying the extra but the toppings were ordinary
and would probably just get the dogs with mustard the next time.
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/08 11:36:38 (permalink)
Eleventh outing, 7/25

56) Big Daddy's, Little Falls

A small storefront known for the 100-plus bottles of hot sauce with names like Ring of Fire, Scorned Woman, Colon Cleanser, and Da Bomb Ground Zero. The last one is considered by many to be the hottest hot sauce available. I wouldn't know because I didn't try any of them. In my opinion, these sauces don't belong on a hot dog. They overwhelm the dog itself. But there are a lot of people who like them, and I'm not one to tell anybody how to enjoy their hot dog. Big Daddy's took third place in the Dirty Water Dog category.

To me, Big Daddy's is overrated. Their dog is another miniscule 12 to a lb natural casing Sabrett that is very common. Mine wasn't hot enough and lacked snap. But I will say that I ordered first, and that may have had something to do with it since everyone else had dogs that were hot, and according to them had a sufficient snap. But again, they were tiny and expensive to boot, going for $1.70 plain or with mustard, and more for toppings. As I've stated ad nauseum, if you like a dirty water Sabrett, there are many places where you can get a bigger dog at a better price served hot, fresh, and with a good snap. Trucks are usually better than restaurants or storefronts in that you can get a dog quickly without having to wait. If you want to try something different and like hot sauces then Big Daddy's might appeal to you. I didn't like it.

57) Pappy's Diner, Union Blvd Totowa

This visit was my first to Pappy's. I've since been back a number of times. Pappy's has been around for a long time, and from what I understand, has been done over or remodeled a few years ago. In appearance, it's very similar to The Hot Grill in Clifton. They serve a classic North Jersey Texas Weiner. The Thumanns deep fryer topped with homemade chili sauce.

Before I get into a description of the dog itself, let me tell you about our experience here. There is an older woman who owns the place and is the only person waiting tables. At least she was the only person I've seen in the 6 or so times I've been here. She saw our shirts (S.W.A.T. Team) and thought that we were either looking to open our own restaurant (potential competitors) or were health inspectors. She refused to answer our questions or sell me their chili sauce. I found out the reason on a subsequent visit, where she was quick to apologize when she found out exactly why we were there.

Despite the way we were treated, I decided that I would be going back again because the dogs were so good. I had heard about Pappy's, but never been there before. I was hoping that we would go as part of the team. If not, I would have gone anyway, as it was on my list of places to go to. The dogs were fried long enough, which many places serving this dog failed to do. It makes a difference. The chili was excellent. A zesty chili that had a great mixture of spicy and sweet flavors. Half of the team liked it. The other half thought it was just ok. I liked it so much that I went back to sample it before the final vote. Then a few times after. I voted this dog best chili dog. For a North Jersey Texas Weiner it's definitely in my top 3 along with the Hot Grill and Libby's.

The last 2 or 3 times I've gone, service has been awful because the owner is the only one waiting on people. When the place is empty, like it was the first few times I went, the wait isn't too bad. Last time it took over a half hour to be served. And I had to wait 20 minutes to get my check. I had to run the woman down and ask for it. I did see a help wanted sign in the window, so maybe things will improve. But for the near future, if I want a Texas Weiner, I'll go to the Hot Grill. Chili is in the same league as Pappy's and it is served at the perfect temperature every time. And you don't have to be waited on.

58) McCobb's, Wayne

Another first for me. I had heard of this place, but never been. I knew that it was a Texas Weiner joint. No one at the counter knew the brand of dog, so I had them ask someone in the back. I was told that it was from the Haledon Pork Store. I had seen a box in the dumpster labeled Hatfield, so I thought that they may have used them. But the box didn't say if it contained hot dogs, ham, or anything else, so the next day I called the Haledon Pork Store. The owner said that they do supply McCobb's. The dogs are also nitrate free. One of the team members noticed a sign in the restaurant stating this.

The dog itself was fair at best. Deep fried and about 8 to a lb. From what I remember, it was pale and grayish in color due to the lack of nitrates. As for the chili, it was different than any that we've had all summer. They also sell it go in glass jars that are displayed at the counter. And they claim to sell a lot of it throught their website. It's red in color and looks and tastes more like spaghetti sauce than hot dog chili. Overly sweet and tomatoey in taste, no one liked it except Pete.

59) Falls View, Pequannock

There are a number of Falls View restaurants in Jersey. Their specialty is Texas Weiners, North Jersey style. I had been to the Falls View in Clifton a number of times previously, but never to this one or any other. The Clifton location used to be the Red Chimney until a couple of years ago. At the Clifton Falls View, you can get your dogs deep fried or charbroiled. At the Pequannock location they come deep fried.

The dog is the Thumanns deep fryer. But it is different than all of the other hot dog joints that serve this dog. When I had it at the Clifton location, it tasted different and not as good as the other places serving this dog. I know frying time makes a difference, but the dogs here did not taste like Thumann's, even though the packaged ones that they sell to go in a refrigerator with their own label states that they are made by Thumann's. I contacted the plant manager at Thumann's, and he gave me the skinny. The dogs are the Thumanns deep fryers, but Falls View requested that the dogs do not go through the smoking process. So Thumanns takes these dogs and packages them without being smoked. This is why they taste different, and in my opinion, inferior. This is true of the dogs served at all of the Falls View locations.

As for the Pequannock location, in addition to the dogs not going through the smoking process, they were skinless and not left in the oil long enough. The result was a mediocre dog. Reminiscent of the Goffle Grill, but not as good. At least their dog had a natural casing and was smoked. The chili at Falls View was thin and lacked flavor. I described the Texas Weiner here as a "blah dog". The team as a whole did not like this dog. One member stated, "Without the mustard, there'd be no taste at all; it's skinless, tasteless, useless". That about sums it up.
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/08 12:33:58 (permalink)
The Jimmy Buff's in West Orange, NJ is the only location that cooks their potatoes enough, and gives you enough peppers and onions. I have been frequenting the West Orange location for 30 years, and it's still the ONLY Buff location that makes them right!
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/08 14:38:23 (permalink)
I was at the Scotch Plains location Saturday night and the potatoes were cooked enough. Perhaps you like yours well done and a little dry?
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/09 10:43:23 (permalink)
John - thanks again for taking the time to post all of your S.W.A.T. team trip information and insights. It's great to read about all the many differing places and experiences you've had.

As far as Pappy's goes, I'm glad to hear that you've been going there and enjoying their Texas Weiners and sauce - they really are delicious. But I'm sad to hear of your more recent experiences regarding slow service. Hopefully they will be able to hire some help and overcome that soon. Have you tried sitting at the counter (as opposed to in one of the booths)? In the past, I've found good service at the counter.

Pappy's Diner was founded in the 40's (I believe) by Spiro Papanou (hence, the "Pappy's" name). Prior to that it was known as the "White Way", and before that it had been called "Boulevard" (since it's located on Union Boulevard, Totowa, NJ). The original diner was a Silk City Diner, manufactured in neighboring Paterson. You can get a good idea of what Pappy's looked like in the 60's through the 70's based upon this (http://www.plusonegallery.com/Artwork-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=448&NewID=6663) John Baeder painting of it circa 1979 (though the website has the diner mislabeled as being located in Torrington, CT). The current owner, John Tsigounis, and his wife (whom you have met and mentioned) came to work there for his uncle Spiro back in the early 60's. At some point (perhaps the early 70's), John took over the diner. In 1984 he began making changes to the interior and exterior, and it began to lose it's old-time diner look as it became more of a restaurant. And by the mid-90's he had purchased the gas station next door, turned that into parking area and, changed the diner/restaurant into it's current configuration.

Having grown up in Totowa, Pappy's was always our "dog-of-choice". But our family also enjoyed the original Falls View (no longer standing) as well as the occasional visit to the Olympia (also no longer standing) and Libby's (thankfully, still there). Amazing to look back and think of how many great Texas Weiner joints there were in such a close geographic region.

I hope that over time you will continue to patronize Pappy's, John. They've got a great product and are part of a disappearing breed: off-the-boat, Greek-owned Texas Weiner joints. So many have either gone out of business (most likely because succeeding generations didn't want to do the hard work of restaurant life) or have changed into something much different (read: gone downhill) than what the original diner was (e.g. - Falls View, Johnny & Hanges).


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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/09 11:53:36 (permalink)
TnGuy,

Thanks for the in depth history! You're right about many of the Greek-owned Texas Weiner joints going out of business or changing into something other than family owned restaurants. The Falls View is an example of the latter. Now it's just a fast food restaurant and a mediocre one at that. I'm sure it was much better years ago.

As for Pappy's, I'll be back. But I really don't like having to wait as long as I did. I've gone to restaurants with my family and had full meals with dessert and have been in and out quicker than Pappy's. I don't know why the owner insists on being the only one waiting on everyone. Service was no better at the counter either. I just hope the help wanted sign is for a waitperson rather than a dish washer or cook. My wife and I only had a couple of dogs and it took forever.

Service is better at Libby's, but I still prefer going up to the counter at the Hot Grill and being served within a minute or 2, despite the crowd at the counter. I call it controlled chaos.

It's almost the same situation at Syd's, which serves perhaps the best hot dog I've eaten. At least it's the best grilled beef dog I know of. You have to wait to be waited on, wait for the dog to be prepared, wait for someone to bring you your check, and wait for them to come back to pay for it. I very rarely go to Syd's, preferring to buy the same dogs at the factory and enjoy them at home. But with a Texas Weiner, it's hard to reproduce the chili at home. Although you can get the dogs if you want and buy the chili to use at home. But I don't really want to buy 5 lbs of the Thumanns deep fryers and have to drag out my deep fryer from the basement when I get the urge for a Texas Weiner.

Maybe I'm impatient, but I prefer to go to places like Jerry's, Galloping Hill Inn, Rutt's Hut, and the Hot Grill where you're served in a matter of minutes.
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/12 12:15:03 (permalink)
Twelfth outing, 8/1

60) Hot Dog House, rt 17 Carstadt.

A tiny little place with a counter and a few stools. Hot Dog House served 2 different dogs; an 11 to a lb natural casing all beef Sabrett dirty water style and a 1/4 lb beef and pork Sabrett that was deep fried. This same dog can be found at Callahans prepared the same way. The beef dog was ok for what it was, the standard Sabrett served hot. The chili was meaty, chunky, and mild. The deep fried dog was prepared like and tasted like a Callahans dog. Which is to say ok if you are in the mood for a milder deep fried dog. A decent stop if you're in the area, but nothing to go out of your way for.

61) Hot Dog Heaven, Kindermack Rd. Emerson.

A place in Bergen County that I've never heard of previously. I asked the owner how long he's been in business and I think I remember him saying around 3 years or so. Two main dogs served here. The Thumanns deep fryer and a Sabrett all beef natural casing 11. You can also get an Italian Hot Dog using the Sabrett's. The beef dog was average and what you would expect. Same as the last place. The deep fried dog was exceptional. It came in 3rd place for deep fried dog. I actually voted for it for second place. The dog is a 6 to a lb, which makes it bigger than the more common 8 to a lb dog served at Rutt's Hut and others. And it was left in the oil long enough. The result is a dog that is somewhere between a ripper and a weller at a size that I like better than the smaller dog at Rutt's. The owner says that he purposely leaves the dogs in the oil for as long as he does. As I've stated earlier, it does make a difference.

The chili here was a good tomatoey sauce that I had on half of my dog. My voting had Amazing Hot Dog first in the deep fried category, Hot Dog Heaven second. And Rutt's third. This place was a pleasant surprise. I think that if I had to vote again I might put Rutt's ahead of Hot Dog Heaven only because the relish at Rutt's is my favorite topping for this type of dog. And I might put both ahead of Amazing Hot Dog. When I voted, I was stuck between putting one of the places serving the Thumanns deep fryer ahead of Amazing's more well seasoned beef dog. Voting on the dog itself, I usually am in the mood for a spicier all beef dog more often than a milder pork and beef dog. That's why I voted for Amazing. But most of the time I want a beef dog, I either get one grilled or boiled, which I prefer to deep fried. When I'm in the mood for a deep fried dog, most of the time I run to Rutt's. This is why voting is so subjective. Many times it's easy to pick one dog over another. One may be a quality dog prepared perfectly, while another may be a cheaper dog with fillers where you can taste the difference. Other times it's hard, and you go with what you're in the mood for.

Since the voting, I've been back to a lot of the spots we went to. And although my voting would be almost the same, I would make a few changes. I'll mention them after I cover our last trip of the summer.

62) Stewart's Root Beer, Kearny

A regular looking Stewart's Root Beer stand. I've never been here before, so I had to ask about the brand used. It was a Haydu beef and pork dog. This is the brand that used to be served at almost every Stewart's. Now, each location serves what they want. I've had Thumann's, Haydu, Nathan's, Sabrett, and Dietz and Watson at various Stewart's in Jersey.

The dog here was an 8 to a lb skinless frank that was deep fried in peanut oil. It was well prepared, but fairly bland. Haydu, although once considered a quality dog, is no longer since the Newark plant closed down. Their all beef dog had a reputation as one of the finer beef dogs. It was served at Walt's in Linden, one of the legendary hot dog joints of the past. And from what I remember, Stewart's in the past had a reputation for decent hot dogs. The ones here were fair at best, although prepared much better than the Haydu dogs we had at the Old Heidelburg in Keansburg which were swimming in a pool of oil for what looked like the better part of the day. At least here they were fresh. One of the meatier chili's we've had was at this Stewart's.
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/12 14:29:16 (permalink)
i got "lost" today and wound up at Manny's on Springfield avenue in Union NJ. i got 2 w/ mustard and chili. thought they were pretty good! the place was mobbed too! anyway, i lost 5 lbs last week on the diet so don't tell my wife!
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/12 17:39:55 (permalink)
Manny's is close to where I live so I go occasionally. I hear you about the diet. It's hard for me to stick to since I'm out of work this month and have a lot of free time that I normally don't have. In the past 2 weeks or so I've been out to a few places, 2 of which were for the first time.

Joe's Pizzeria in the Vauxhall section of Union is known for their pizza, but they serve an Italian Hot Dog as well. I had one a long time ago, but went again to refresh my memory, as I recall liking it. They serve an authentic Italian Hot Dog using the circular pizza bread and potatoes similar to what the well known places use. I only got a single since I wanted to have a couple of slices of pizza as well. Their pizzaa is thin crust and one of the best around in an area that has many good pizzerias. The Italian Hot Dog was very good. Excellent bread (which is rare for a pizzeria, they usually use sub rolls) 10 to a lb Best's hot dogs, a good amount of green peppers, and potatoes cut in chunks, similar to Dickie Dees. Although I may not prefer this dog to Tommy's or Jimmy Buff's, it is a fine example, and it's in my town. Inexpensive as well. The single cost $2.50, the double was under $5.00. Most doubles are now over $6.00 with some places over $7.00.

Earlier in the week, I went with a friend to Tommy's South for the first time. This is the second location of Tommy's Italian Sausage and Hot Dogs of Elizabeth. The new restaurant is on rt 130 in North Brunswick. Here you can sit down and enjoy your food unlike the original which was a walkup storefront. There is also pizza, sandwiches, and other Italian dishes. The pizza looked so good that I think I'll return to try it. Some of their food is prepared by a CIA trained chef. We stuck to double Italian Hot Dogs.

There is no difference in the product here and the original. That's a good thing, as there is no better Italian Hot Dog anywhere. I've always liked Tommy's, but in the last year they've improved their product. Switched from 10 to a lb dogs to 8, and added more peppers. Their potatoes are the finest I've had on an Italian Hot Dog. Everything was fresh and tasty. Filling as well. Tommy's came in first place in the voting for best Italian Hot Dog according to the Munchmobile's S.W.A.T. Team.

I've also been to J's Beef recently. They are the only place making an authentic Chicago Style Hot Dog in the tri state area. Poppy seed bun, Vienna Beef dog, yellow mustard, neon green relish, chopped onions, dill pickle slices, tomato wedges, celery salt, and sports peppers. The dog is fairly mild for a beef dog, but good. It goes great with the other ingredients. At first I didn't like having all of this stuff on the dog, but by going many times, I've aquired a taste for the Chicago Dog. It's become one of my favorite stops. They have a smoker and serve excellent brisket sandwiches. Chicago style beef sandwiches as well.

Yesterday I made a quick stop at the Rahway Grill. They are open during the week and close at 3:00, so I never had a chance to go previously. I was told by a co worker that they have excellent dogs. After going, I'd have to agree. They serve a natural casing 8 to a lb Hatfield Angus frank that has been prepared on a griddle. This is the same dog that was served at Top Dog in Metuchen that recently closed. The dog has a very smoky, beefy taste. A top quality dog and one of the better grilled dogs around. The chili here was particularly good as well. Worth checking out if you're in the area.

Today for lunch I decided to compare 2 of my favorite all beef dogs. Jerry's in Elizabeth and Boulevard Drinks in Jersey City. Syd's is my favorite while these two are right behind. Jerry's sevres an 8 to a lb natural casing Best's dog which is boiled and then finished off in a steel compartment, which adds extra crunch. The dog was excellent. Hot, juicy, great snap, and a wonderful flavor. And, unlike Syd's, you can walk up to this storefront and be served immediately.

Boulevard Drinks is also a small walk up place with fast service, but there are a few stools. A small natural casing Sabrett beef dog that is served hot off the griddle. A delicious, spicy, snappy dog. I enjoyed both dogs greatly, but if I had to pick one I preferred today, it would be Jerry's. It was juicier, and I like the blend of spices better in the Best's dog.
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/12 22:14:57 (permalink)
Hi John,

Thanks for the tips on the local area places. you are gonna get me in trouble big time! Where is the Tommys on route 130 in No Brunswick as i sell to the Buy Rite Liquors in the big Shop Rite plaza there? Do you remember a landmark?

thanks!
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/01/12 22:17:35 (permalink)
and i am dying to try j's beef but not sure if i will like all of the toppings on the chicago dog.... and thats too close if i wind up liking it!
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