Hot!New Jersey Hot Dogs

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big g in joisey
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/13 01:24:14 (permalink)
There have probably been a few places to try and imitate Rutt's relish,but,for the most part I believe it's a regional appreciation for this particular topping.One of my friends has lived in Clifton for more than twenty years and never even tried Rutt's until last year
and was impressed with the hotdogs and their unique relish,he found the taste very similiar to a type of relish he had when he was living in Germany. He inquired about it's origin but the counter person was not about to divulge it's ingredients,I told him,they are probably asked about a couple hundred times a week but to no avail.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/13 05:58:51 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by foobuc

had my worst hot dog ever yesterday at a place called "Friends" in Plainfield or North Plainfield. I should have known when i walked in but anyway avoid the Texas weiners there by all means. i ordered 2 and they were "nassy" so nasty that i had to drive to Texas Weiners 1 and order 2 chili dogs there just to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the 2 i had at Friends!!! anyone know the story behind the "Paul's 2 Newark Italian Style Hot Dog" place on Somerset St. yet? i was by there and the paper was still up. Is there a Paul's in Newark on Clinton St.???? John, have you ever been there?


I don't know anything about Paul's on Somerset St. What town? I have been to Paul's on Clinton St. a few years ago and had a very good Italian Hot Dog. I drive by there occasionally when I go to Best Provisions. I've been meaning to go back, but they are always closed it seems. I don't think they open until early afternoon. That will be my next destination when I have a weekday off.
foobuc
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/13 06:49:23 (permalink)
the Paul's 2 that i saw is off Route 22 onto Somerset St.
(i was headed west on 22 so i had to take the Somerset St. jughandle) Take Somerset St. down towards i think what is downtown No. Plainfield. It is on the left hand side on the corner right before you hit the immediate main shopping area. Like i said it looks like it is new and coming soon but i could be wrong....
foobuc
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/13 21:40:26 (permalink)
went to that hotdog place off monmouth st in red bank today. i had a large grilled dog and a big cup of chili! dog was pretty good but was on a hoagie type roll which i don't enjoy as much but the chili was really good! they say the soup there is better than the dogs. my next trip i will have to get some soup. it is right in my work territory so i will have to check it out more often.
Jimmy Buff
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 00:27:58 (permalink)
Originally posted by ken8038

My wife, son and I made a quick trip up to Jimmy Buff's in East Hanover for lunch yesterday. Sorry to say, but we gave it a totally mixed review.

The food was just fine. I had an Italian Dog (which I thought was a little small, but then again it was only $3.95, I think), and a pushcart dog with great hot onions. My wife was somewhat dismayed to find that her cheeseburger was served in the style of an Italian Hot Dog, with the fried onions and peppers and potatoes. Way too much grease for her. My son had the Chicken finger basket with fries, which he liked, but then again he likes the chicken fingers at his college too.

The problem was with everything else. First of all, it was literally about 45 degrees in the place. When someone ahead of me on line asked the counter lady about it, she just shrugged and said it was because people keep opening the door. (So what's the solution, not let any customers in??). We rushed thru our food just to get out of there into the warm car, so I can't say any of us really enjoyed it.

Also, the soda was awful. I'm particular about my draft beer and draft soda, rule #1 should be to clean the damn tubes every day. And the soda was way overpriced, I know there are free refills, but the tiny flimsy plastic cups they give you meant like 4 trips to the soda machine. And no lids. My wife is convinced that it was not true Pepsi syrup coming from the Pepsi spigot.

The ordering system needs work also, it was very busy when we were there, and no one seemed to know who was supposed get what order, the customers were pretty much left to figure it our for themselves, everything was just placed on the pickup counter.

I'll give it another shot, like in May or something.

Ken, as owner of the East Hanover location I would like to apologize for the temperature in the store, the heat was not working properly and we were using portable heaters until PSEG could fix it, but at no time did the temperature go under 62. My mother was correct in saying that every time the front door opened we would get a blast of cold air. Believe me she was colder than anyone, she was there 8 hours.
As for the burger. My menu has 4 panels, the first panel is Italian
style sandwiches which come single and double. The second panel are the pustcart dogs the third panel are the charcoal broiled burgers which are called Wimpy's. If you ordered a single burger it would come out as an Italian style burger just as the picture shows. If you ordered a Wimpy burger you would have gotten a charcoal broiled burger just as that picture shows. It is quite clear.
As far as the soda, I must admit you are the first person to complain about free-refills, and if you doubt that I am using Pepsi or any other name brand soda feel free to look behind the bar, all the canisters are in plain sight and clearly marked.
As far as the system goes, when you order you get the bottom stub of the guest check which contains a set of numbers, when your order is ready your number is called, you come to the eat-in window and pick up your order, sounds easy enough doesn't it?
I have been doing this my whole life and my number 1 priority is to make sure you leave happy and full and if I didn't do that than I didn't do my job. If I am present at your next visit please introduce yourself and I would gladly buy you lunch for my only means of advertising is word of mouth. My slogan is if your not satisfied tell me and if your are tell others because the best compliment I could receive is for you to tell others about Jimmy Buff's.

Thanks for letting me clarify some things.
Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 12:16:15 (permalink)
Hello all ,

I think its is great that Jimmy Buff himself would post his reply on one less than favorable experience at his place .

I for one will be visiting in the near future .
Closest to the GWB ? I know there are four locations .
Can I double a visit with another Dog establishment nearby.

Thanks all

Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 13:00:53 (permalink)
Benzee,
The East Hanover location is the newest, and the one with the greatest variety of selections. It's about 30 miles from the George Washington Bridge. I doubt any of the other locations are any closer. Amazing Hot Dog in Verona, N.J., is about 9 miles away from the Jimmy Buff East Hanover store.
The Bear
Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 14:51:51 (permalink)
Screenbear ,
Thanks buddy . I actually did a mapquest of the West Orange location and it shows 30 minutes and 23 miles from the GWB.
I will have to stop there one day after work .

I will also be checking out Johnny and Hanges in Fairlawn off of Rt 4 and hopefuuly Libbys Lunch in Paterson and Walters of Mamaroneck in the coming weeks .

Benzee
big g in joisey
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 17:04:36 (permalink)
Hiram's in Fort Lee is right on Palaisades ave,about 3 minutes from the GWB,one of the best in the state,voted #1 Chili dog by the swat munchmobile from the Star Ledger.
ken8038
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 17:35:58 (permalink)
<<Thanks for letting me clarify some things.>.

No, the thanks is from me to you, that was a very considerate and detailed reply. It's so unusual for an owner not to take an attitude when hearing of complaints. And I'm not the type to just go off and complain about every little thing.

Mine complaints were legitimate, at least for that particular day and that time. But now that I know the ropes and how to look at the menu, I'm sure my next visit will be much better. And as I said in my original post, I do plan to go back.

I do wish you the best of luck, keep up the hands-on approach. Thanks again. --Ken
ScreenBear
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 19:24:40 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by big g in joisey

Hiram's in Fort Lee is right on Palaisades ave,about 3 minutes from the GWB,one of the best in the state,voted #1 Chili dog by the swat munchmobile from the Star Ledger.


Yep, most certainly...Hiram's. Forgot about that. My favorite chili dog. Indeed. By all means.
The Bear
eggsactley
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/14 21:20:22 (permalink)
and you can have a nice cold tap beer with that chili dog at Hirams!
Matt Gleason
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/15 08:45:54 (permalink)
I'm surprised there aren't more owners in here!
Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/15 22:10:24 (permalink)
Hello all ,

I visit Hirams on occasion and consider the Chili dogs some of the best I've eaten .
Stopped by Johnny and Hanges first time today for two all the way .
Excellent .

Benzee
big g in joisey
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/15 22:41:22 (permalink)
Benzee, did you make it up to Jimmy Buffs in East Hanover,if so, how was it compared to some of the other places in Jersey.
Benzee
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/17 08:47:51 (permalink)
Hello all ,
I will be visitng Jimmy Buffs next week one day and will give you all a report upon my return .
Johnny and Hanges was a fabulous place , right off the highway for easy on , easy off access .
Two all the way baby
Chopped onions , mustard and chili .
Excellent !!

Benzee
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/18 09:27:26 (permalink)
Benzee,

Enjoy Jimmy Buffs. But bring an appetite! Especially if you plan on hitting other places. At the very least, let me suggest that you try their footlong, which is the same dog that Syd's uses. Here it is fried and then finished off on a real charcoal grill. Unique and very good. In fact, very good is an understatement. Also try the quarter pound Schickhaus dog. Many hot dog lovers consider this to be the finest dog. Or at least the finest beef and pork dog. I have a feeling that many of the New York contingent will love this dog. It certainly rivals the dog at the Galloping Hill Inn. It's prepared on a griddle and then put on the charcoal grill. And ask for chili. Instead of putting it on your dog, they give you a small container that you can put on yourself. It's slightly sweet and peppery. Unique and very good. I've heard it described as bolognese style; whatever that means.

Jimmy Buffs is first and formost an Italian Hot Dog restaurant. But this location serves the dogs mentioned above as well as a dirty water dog that I haven't sampled yet. It's an 8 to a lb natural casing Best's. Same as Jerry's in Elizabeth. There are other options besides hot dogs, but for the first time it's probably better to stick to dogs. I had 2 footlongs and a single Italian dog first time. I would suggest the footlong and quarter pounder. And if you have room for more, either a single or double Italian Hot Dog. Let us know about your trip there.

On another note, I found out 2 interesting tidbits of information. Schickhaus, which is a brand name for hot dogs and bologna, was originally a New Jersey company. It was later sold. I though it was just a private label brand made for the Jersey market. The brand is produced by Grote & Weigel of Conn. It's a different recipe than the dogs produced by G & W for the Galloping Hill Inn and the G&W Griddle Franks that are used by Manny's Texas weiners and other Texas Weiner joints in and around Plainfield.

I also found out that the dogs at Rutts Hut are fried in beef tallow as are the fries. Almost every place that deep fries anything switched to vegetable oil years ago for health reasons. But anything tastes better fried in beef tallow. This is one factor that accounts for the dogs at Rutts tasting better than other places that use the same Thumanns deep fry dog. McDonalds use to fry their delicious french fries in beef tallow. I think it's silly to use health concerns as a reason to switch from beef tallow. Cost, maybe. But hot dogs and french fries aren't exactly health foods to begin with.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/19 10:17:14 (permalink)
I've heard from an excellent source that Rutt's Hut fries their dogs and french fries in beef tallow. As I've mentioned in the past, people who own and/or work at hot dog restaurants have a habit of stretching the truth. And I can understand their motivation for keeping their competitors in the dark. They would not want the competition to know why their dogs taste better even though they all may be using the same brand.

In the past I've had someone from Rutt's tell me that their relish is homemade (this is true) as well as their mustard (this isn't true). I was told by someone else working there what brand of mustard they use. This person stopped talking when one of the owners walked by. I've even seen a big jar of mustard with the label on it at Rutts.

Rutt's isn't the only place that isn't totally forthcoming when it comes to their product. Others claim they make their own dogs on premise, have theirs made to a special recipe, make their own chili when they don't, etc. Take what you hear with a grain of salt.
foobuc
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/20 19:58:34 (permalink)
yeah i guess that makes sense John. whatever Rutt's cooks it in it does not matter as they are great! on a sidebar, i went to Windmill in Long Branch yesterday and i went to J's Beef for 2 Chicago minus the onions today. if a regualr poster on here was in front of me reading the paper and saying "oh boy" every now and then he was eating a few chicago style too. it was right at the end of my slow selling day about 4:10PM. . Boy those are good. Different but good!
foobuc
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/23 07:13:00 (permalink)
i had to go to ft lee yesterday to meet w/ my brother and go to a wake in forest hills ny so we went to hiram's before to get a hot dog. i had one and did not do it w/ chili because i did not want to have chili breath when i went to the wake. That was a really good dog and bun! i will be back there when i can eat about 4 more and can get chili on it!
big g in joisey
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/23 17:23:49 (permalink)
Schickhaus at one time had a factory in Kearny,NJ,on harrison ave / Newark turnpike,long gone now. I believe you can still get this great tasting frank at Max's in Long Branch or Texas Weiner's on Rt.22 West
in Plainfield, I remember the sign in TW's for their hamburgers 100% beef from Schickhaus,the hotdogs were a beef and pork blend.
umbada
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/23 18:08:03 (permalink)
An excellent combination for the deep fryer is half beef tallow and half peanut oil. Maybe Rutts uses half or some other portion of vegetable oil along with beef fat?
eggsactley
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/02/28 21:48:35 (permalink)
Does anyone here have any knowledge of the fate of J's Beef in Linden? I stopped there today craving a Chicago dog at about 2:30 and they were closed.
foobuc
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/01 07:18:39 (permalink)
oh no. i hope there is a reason that is not too serious. i was just getting to like those dogs!
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/01 07:19:02 (permalink)
Fourteenth outing, 8/25

67) John's Texas Weiners, Newark

A small old fashioned luncheonette serving the smallest Texas Weiner I've seen. Smaller than even a 12 to a lb dog. It was a skinless Sabrett all beef dog prepared on a griddle. The chili was unbalanced and had an overly cinnamony flavor. Underwhelming.

68) Karl Ehmer's, Hillsdale

Karl Ehmer's is the name of a butcher shop in Queens. It has been there a long time and eventually expanded and opened up other stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Some have since closed, but you can check their website to find their current locations and other places that sell their franks and sausages. Everything is made in the Queens location and sent to their stores.

The Hillsdale Karl Ehmer's has a cart outside of the store that serves hot dogs, bratwurst, weisswurst, and other sausages. This cart has a griddle, a grill, and a compartment for water. You can get your dog or sausage any way you like, but if you don't specify, it will come prepared on the griddle. As for the hot dogs, you have a choice of all beef or German style beef and pork. Both are excellent. I had been here once previously. I had both dogs and bought some at the store to bring home. On this particular visit I discovered that the German frank sold for take home and served at the cart is not produced by Karl Ehmer, but rather by Kochers Meats in Ridgefield. All of the other products are made by Ehmers.

The all beef dog was excellent. A typical New York/New Jersey Jewish style all beef dog well spiced. 6 to a lb with a tough natural casing. Definitely one of the better beef dogs available in the area. But the German style dog from Kochers that was served at the cart was a standout. It took 3rd place for best grilled dog. Unfortunately there was only one category for grilled dogs rather than 2; I tried to get one for all beef and one for beef/pork. Had there been a beef/pork category, this dog would have taken first place. The 2 that finished above Ehmers (Syd's and Boulevard Drinks) are both all beef dogs. It is also 6 to a lb, with a natural casing. The mix here is 70% beef, 30% pork. No garlic or paprika. Similar to many of the better European butcher shop or pork store hot dogs in that it is fresh, high quality, tender, and loosely packed. I've compared this dog to others in this style and it is better. It is right up there with Thumanns griller. You can get this dog to take home at this location or at Kochers. I was to Kochers and was told that their dogs are sold at between 30 and 40 different stores, delis, and hot dog restaurants. Definitely one of the best hot dogs tasted all summer.

69) Hank's Franks, route 46 Lodi

Hank's is a small hot dog restaurant located on busy rt 46. One of the more well known places in Jersey, although it was my first time there. The dog is a 12 to a lb natural casing all beef Sabrett served dirty water style. There was a line when we went, but service was fast and efficient. They have enough people working there and they prepared the dogs quickly. Although small, they were served hot and had a decent snap. Above average spicy chili.

70) Danny's Dogs, Garfield

Tiny little place serving 11 to a lb boiled Sabretts. Run of the mill. A thick chili that was too spicy for my taste.

71) Teddy's, Paterson

Teddy's is a converted bar that is located in a dingy industrial area. An obscure place that I had never heard of before, and am sure that not too many people know of. We went here based on an e-mail recommending it. The women on the team complained about the dirty restroom and were reluctant to eat here. It has the atmosphere of an old neighborhood bar, which it was in a previous life. As for the dogs, I was glad to discover that Teddy's served something a little different. I was expecting another small dirty water dog. What we got was a natural casing 6 to a lb Sabrett beef dog that was deep fried. And a great deal at $1.50. This seems to be the going rate for a dog half the size. I liked the dog. Sabrett is a tasty dog, and this one was fried long enough. Good and different. I don't remember what the chili tasted like, but my notes said thin, tasty chili. One of the team members called the chili "mushy, bland, baby food chili."

72) Hot Dog Hut, Wayne

Nice cozy little place off the beaten path. Back to the small dirty water Sabretts. 12 to a lb natural casing served fresh and hot enough. Like Big Daddy's, you could get a variety of hot sauces. I passed. They have 2 kinds of chili. One was hot, the other mild. I don't remember if I sampled the hot chili, but I did like the mild. It was beefy and tomatoey. A little like beefaroni.

73) Circle Grill, Netcong

The Circle Grill has been at this location for a couple of years. It used to be the Cozy Drive In, and was a well known landmark in the area. A nice looking clean restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. It was a nice day so we ate outside. The dog here is a natural casing Boars Head beef/pork frank (about 7 to a lb)that is deep fried. Average dog; I would have preferred the Boars Head beef dog. Thin Texas Weiner sauce that was ok. Decent place, nothing worth going out of your way for.

74) Big D's Dogs, Dover

A truck parked in the back of a huge parking lot. 12 to a lb natural casing Sabrett. Same as most others. The chili was tasteless and had a lot of onions in it. Some liked the hot onions served here. If I was in the area, I would pass on this place and look for the Dover Grill which had much better hot dogs.

75) Stewart's, Rt 46 Rockaway Township

This Stewart's served the same skinless 8 to a lb Haydu beef/pork frank that the Stewart's in Kearney did. And what all Stewart's locations served years ago until recently when the owners started serving what they wanted. According to someone I spoke with, these dogs were better when they were made in Newark before the company was sold. Fairly bland dog, average chili.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/01 07:24:09 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by eggsactley

Does anyone here have any knowledge of the fate of J's Beef in Linden? I stopped there today craving a Chicago dog at about 2:30 and they were closed.


I spoke with Jack this morning. They are open. Had to close for a little while yesterday due to an emergency.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/02 12:17:27 (permalink)
Fifteenth outing, 8/27

76) Nathan's, Coney Island

Although we set out to judge and evaluate New Jersey Hot Dogs, we decided to make a trip into New York. I was anxiously awaiting this day as I hadn't been to New York for hot dogs in a long time, and believe it or not had never been to the original Nathan's in Coney Island.

The dogs served at Nathans are their own brand produced under contract by a company called SMG Meats. Supposedly from the original 1916 recipe created by Nathan Handwerker's wife. The dog is an 8 to a lb natural casing kosher style dog prepared on a griddle. As mentioned elsewhere, there are many Nathans locations, some good, some not. Many claim that none are as good as the original, which is considered the ultimate hot dog shrine. Probably the most famous hot dog restaurant in the world. I was glad to finally see it for myself.

I've had the dog served here many times at home. It is available at certain supermarkets. Most only sell the skinless version. I've also had it at other Nathans locations, mostly the Menlo Park Mall, which serves a great dog. It is prepared perfectly. I was curious to see how it would compare to the Original. Well, I found out what I had suspected all along. Using the same dog prepared the same way produces the same results. Which is a terrific hot dog. Prepared well on the griddle, the dog was hot, crisp, and bursting with flavor. Nathans is one of the best all beef dogs you can get (definitely in my top 5) so I enjoyed this one. But I will say that it is no better than what I get at Menlo Park. In fact, the mall location is always crowded and the dogs are served very hot. But you can't beat the Coney Island Nathans for ambience. Great dog; I had mine with just mustard. According to the rest of the team, the chili was thick and had beans, but was not distinctive. The fries (which are usually great at Nathans) were soggy. All in all, a great experience. I'm happy that I finally got to visit the ultimate hot dog shrine.

77) Katz's, Houston St. Manhattan

If Nathans is the ultimate hot dog joint, then Katz's is the ultimate deli. According to many, they make the best pastrami sandwich in the world. But we were here for hot dogs. The place itself is huge, with a great atmosphere and pictures of celebrities all over the place. The dog served here is a natural casing all beef Sabrett that is prepared on a small griddle in the front, all the way to the right of the counter near the window. These dogs are slightly bigger than the 10 to a lb dogs served at Papaya King and Gray's, but a little smaller than the natural casing Sabretts you can get in the store, which to me, are a little mushy. I would say about 9 to a lb. On this visit the dogs were done right. This isn't always the case, as I've had them undercooked. Sabrett is also in my top 5 for beef dogs, and in my opinion, taste best grilled. The dogs we had today were exceptional, both at Nathans and here. I like the spicing slightly better in the Sabrett dog that we had at Katz's. Everyone else liked the dogs as well. I had mine with mustard, those who had the chili said it was awful, with one member calling it the worst she had.

78) Crif Dogs, St. Marks Place, Manhattan

Crif's is a small, narrow little restaurant that you have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to. Dimly lit, it's like being in a cave. But I liked the atmosphere. The guys who opened Crif's about 6 or 7 years ago modeled it after Rutt's Hut in Clifton. One of the former owners told me so in an e-mail several years back. The Thumanns deep fry dog is used here. They were smart enough to anticipate that this dog might not catch on with New Yorkers who are used to a bolder, more well seasoned beef dog, so they also offer one that they call the New Yorker. It is an 8 to a lb natural casing all beef Thumanns. Micro brews are also available on tap.

Crif's has a variety of toppings including bacon. I didn't have any on my dogs, but those who did liked the bacon and other toppings. The beef dog was prepared on the griddle and spent a sufficient amount of time there. It was a very good dog. But a notch below all of the other fine beef dogs we had this day. The basic Crif Dog (deep fried Thumanns) was a decent Rutt's Hut knockoff. For those in New York looking to get a similar deep fried dog to what we have in Jersey, Crifs is the place to go.

79) Papaya King, 14th St. and 7th Ave. Manhattan

Depending on who you speak to, either Nathan's, Katz's, Papaya King, or Gray's Papaya serves the quintessential New York Hot Dog. Each has its devotees. All are very popular. While Nathan's and Katz's have a big menu, Papaya King and Gray's serve mainly hot dogs. Service is quick, and there is no seating. This Papaya King is a fairly new location. The dogs here are 10 to a lb Sabretts that are prepared on a griddle with foil on top. The team didn't like this dog. It was called too salty. I disagreed. The dog was fine. In fact, there is little to no difference in the dogs served at Katz's, Papaya King, and Gray's. All serve the same recipe griddled natural casing Sabrett. Depending on what day you go, one may be better than the other in terms of freshness of the bun, time spent on the griddle, etc. I haven't been to these places enough times to gauge their consistency. I do know that you should specify well done at Katz's because sometimes they are under cooked. My dog at Papaya King was tasty and well prepared, but the bun fell apart.

80) Gray's Papaya, 8th Ave. 37th or 38th St. Manhattan

Same set up and dog as Papaya King, which Gray's is a knockoff of. Nicholas Gray opened his first location in 1973, which was actually a Papaya King. There are a few spread out through Manhattan. Very similar, as I said to Papaya King, but the drinks aren't as good. The prices are cheaper, though. I don't recall the exact amount, but for 2 or 3 dollars and change, you get 2 dogs and a Papaya drink. Another great dog, and here the bun didn't fall apart.

These dogs were very good in my opinion. In Jersey the Nathan's in Menlo Park is as good as Coney Island, minus the atmosphere. And Boulevard Drinks in Jersey City was considered to be better than Katz's and the Papaya places by most of the team because the dogs seemed prepared better and fresher. Dover Grill also serves the same dog as these places. I can now add Papaya King in Clifton, N.J. I would prefer this place to those mentioned because the owner/manager is there and is a stickler for detail, which means there should be more consistency to the product. The dog itself is bigger than Boulevard Drinks (12 to a lb), prepared as well, and is more convenient to get to.

Since my favorite beef dog is Best's, I do like places such as Jimmy Buff's in E.Hanover, Syd's, and Jerry's that serve this brand of natural casing dog a little better than those mentioned above. But again, sometimes I'm in the mood for a spicier dog. Both Nathan's and Sabrett are a little spicier. It was definitely a fun experience taking the Munchmobile to New York.



Akavar
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/03 14:38:00 (permalink)
My First Visit to Charlie's Pool Room

I finally made my first trip to Charlie's Pool Room in Alpha, NJ today. What a place! Is this the quintessential roadfood palce or not?

Here are some of the Stern's guidelines for a good roadfood place that you will find at Charlie's:

1) Owners on site.
2) Serves a unique dish.
3) Concentrates on what they do best.
4) Limited and/or unique menu. (I could not find a menu - they only make hot dogs three different ways.)
5) Makes their special dish in a unique manner. (When was the last time you had a hot dog called a "mealie"?)

I think the only thing they were missing was the placement of a hot dog on the roof of the building.

Charlie's is a unique place. You walk in and wonder what is this dark and obviously old place. You look into what appears to be a dining room and and there is an old pool table covered with a cloth. Then you notice a few long benches along the walls, but the only place to eat is at a single large round table with about eight chairs around it.

You don't see any place to order or anything that resembles a kitchen. A voice calls out from the back "I'll be with you in a moment" because they have heard you squeaking the floorboards as you investigated this funny little place.

Shortly, Joe Fencz walks out from the bowels of the building to take your order. Joe is a friendly man, so he asks you your name, shakes your hand, and seems to want to get to know you personally. This a Saturday morning just before noon and there is no one else in the place.

After you order two hot dogs, Joe asks you how you want them. Since all you seem to remember is that they make a great relish (properly referred to as a sauce) you ask Joe what your choices are.

He explains that you can have your dog with their home made sauce, sauce and onions, or sauce, onions, and hot peppers. John explains that this last version is known as a "mealie". You order one with sauce and onions and the other as a mealie. You ask for pickle with both. The total cost is $3.65.

John Fencz, Joe's brother also comes out of the back of the building to get your order from Joe. John then heads back to wherever the kitchen is located to prepare your hot dogs.

As you wait for your hot dogs you talk Chicago style hot dogs with Joe. Joe seems to know hot dogs and is very enthusiastic about them. He begins to mention that some of their customers have come because they saw his place on hollyeats.com. You mention that you saw them there but that you also read about them in the NJ Hot Dog forum on roadfood.com.

Joe says that they do not have a computer, but that he knows John Fox and has heard of the NJ Hot Dog forum. You say that you have met Joe on the most recent NJ Hot Dog Tour.

Gradually you and Joe move into the dining area and settle at the round table to talk about hot dogs, roadfood, and eating while traveling. John finishes preparing your hot dogs and gives them to John, who serves them to you.

As you eat these amazing hot dogs, John comes out and listens to your continuing conversation with Joe. As you munch your dogs you notice that the "mealie" is the better dog. The unique sauce is great, but the addition of a few thin slivers of cherry peppers adds the slightest bit of heat that makes this a world class hot dog.

You also notice that you are taking your time and savoring your conversation with Joe and that John has joined the two of you. John listens intently as you speak. You gradually include John in the conversation. You also notice that your dogs are still warm.

John makes the dogs by slowly pan frying them in a little bit of oil until they are cooked through and have a slight chew. They are then placed in a steamed bun and covered in the warm sauce. This makes for a tasty dog that stays warm a lot longer than most.

When a few more customers come in, Joe gets up to take their order. Joe asks John to look for the guest book because he wants you to sign it. As John looks for the guest book he explains that Joe is the chef and makes the sauce. John says he is the cook and makes the dogs. It seems like a wonderful partnership to me.

You start to sign the guest book as you leave and Joe shakes your hand twice more. He is a very friendly man and you vow to yourself to return and have two more hot dogs as soon as you can. In the meantime John has headed off to the kitchen to make the hot dogs for the customers that just walked in.

As you drive south along the Delaware River on your way home you savor the entire experience. For about ten minutes you can continue to taste the tingle of the sauce and peppers on your tongue. And you congratulate yourself on having another great roadfood experience.

I urge every reader of this forum to go to Charlie's Pool Room to enjoy this wonderful hot dog experience. I hope you have as much fun as I did.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/03 15:24:51 (permalink)
Akavar,
Wonderful review! Charlies Pool Room is the most unique hot dog joint in Jersey; maybe anywhere. They also have a small cult following. I never had the sauce since it contains onions, but everyone I know who has loves it. Joe said that without the sauce, it would be just another dog. I disagree. I have mine with mustard and pickles. It is a much better than average deep fried dog this way; the special sauce puts it over the top. Every hot dog lover should make it a point to visit Charlies Pool Room.
John Fox
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RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2007/03/03 17:01:46 (permalink)
Sixteenth and final outing, 8/29

81) HotDog Arena, Hamilton

This marks our final trip. Because the final wrap up in the Star Ledger was the most comprehensive article, Pete Genovese had to devote a lot of time to it. On top of that, he had to go to the 5 winners in each category to interview them for the article. With the deadline fast approaching, our final trip was not covered in the Ledger. But you can read about it here.

The HotDog Arena is a fairly small luncheonette with a few tables. This is an example of a place that tries to do too many things, and as a result doesn't do a great job with any of them. On their menu, they have a description of a number of different dogs, each with their own name and description. Some that were on the menu have been discontinued. The 4 that were available on this day were: 1) a Nathan's skinless dog that was prepared on a roller grill. A tasty dog even prepared this way, but a natural casing Nathan's on a griddle would have been much better. 2) A Fiesta Dog. This is a big Berk's beef/pork dog filled with cheese and spicy jalepeno pepper. We had the same dog at Jimmy's on the Delaware. This dog may have also been prepared on the roller grill, but I'm not sure. 3) Hatfield beef/pork dog (8 to a lb skinless) boiled in beer. Bad, but not as bad as the dog at Tido's. This particular dog just has a weird spicing. 4) Hebrew National 1/4 lb footlong, prepared on the roller grill. Again, a decent dog, but prepared like they do a baseball stadium rather than a hot dog joint. The young woman was quick and efficient. She was also helpful and had a knowledge of the different dogs served there.

82) Casino Tony Goes, Trenton

They call their dog the Original Italian Hot Dog. It is not. Jimmy Buffs was selling Italian Hot Dogs at least three years before Casino Tony Goes. But they are allowed to call theirs the Original, but not the Originator. Only Buffs can call theirs the Originator. To me it is semantic mumbo jumbo. Casino Tony Goes is popular in and around Trenton. In fact, they are looking to expand. They have already opened a location in Pennsylvania. On a side note, the strip mall where they opened in PA has a restaurant that serves their version of an Italian Hot Dog, which they called a Jersey Italian Hot Dog. Casino Tony Goes actually threatened legal action, so the PA place started calling their product a Pennsylvania style Italian Hot Dog. And their version (the PA restaurant) is more authentic in my opinion because they use a flavorful all beef dog, while Casino uses a beef and pork dog. I also think it's a little hypocritical to threaten legal action when they falsely claim to be the original.

All that aside, what Casino Tony Goes serves is not what I consider an authentic Italian Hot Dog, which is served on circular Italian pizza bread (not a sub roll) stuffed with all beef hot dogs that have been fried in oil (not grilled) and topped with peppers, potatoes (not french fries), and onions. Their version is common in the southern half of Jersey and many pizzerias both north and south that really don't sell a lot of Italian Hot Dogs. Some of these sandwiches (most notably Mijos in Colonia) are quite good. Casino Tony Goes isn't.

Here they put a grilled beef and pork Dietz and Watson frank on a torpedo roll and top it with a few big chunks of green pepper and home fries. You can see it on http://www.casinotonygoes.com. It doesn't even look appetizing in the pictutre. The dog itself tasted good but is all wrong for this sandwich. You need a spicy, kosher style all beef dog whose spices blend in better with the oils and vegetables.

This type of dog is popular in and around Trenton, but I consider it a different version of the true and original Italian Hot Dog invented in Newark, N.J.

83) Patty Wagon, Spotswood

A truck owned by a woman named Patty. The dogs were small 12 to a lb Sabretts that weren't served hot enough. Average chili. Very forgettable.

84) Bear's, Rt. 615 and Jernee Mill Rd. Sayreville

Bear's is a hot dog trailer serving dirty water dogs since 1971. Bear also uses natural casing Sabrett 12's, but these are always fresh and served piping hot. Better than average dog with a good, hot, spicy chili.

85) Freddy's Dogs, Scotch Plains

Another truck located on either North or South Ave. in the Fanwood section of Scotch Plains. A tiny 12 to a lb Sabrett which could have been served hotter. Run of the mill dog with a very spicy chili.

86) Majestic Lunch, Elizabeth Ave. Elizabeth

An old luncheonette that's been around since the 1920's or 30's. Owned by an older Greek couple. Their son, who also works here, makes the chili which is a decent Texas Weiner sauce that's thicker than most. I buy it occasionally to take home. The dogs are natural casing Sabretts (10 to a lb) that are prepared on a griddle. Good dogs, good chili. Only thing that prevents this dog from being considered very good to excellent is inconsistency. Since I live nearby, I've been here more than a few times and notice that often the dogs have been left on the griddle too long and become dried out as a result.

87) Smooth Dog, Morris Ave. Union

Located in a tiny storefront on a busy street, Smooth Dog opened a few months before we went and closed for good shortly after. Not many people knew about them and there was hardly any parking. They served smoothies and hot dogs, hence the name Smooth Dog. Three choices for dogs; dirty water natural casing Sabrett, skinless Sabrett on a roller grill (which wasn't available when we were there) and a turkey dog. I had the boiled Sabrett (11 to a lb) which was served hot enough with a good meaty, tomatoey, mild chili. A decent dog. The teen working there was a nice kid, but seemed overwhelmed. It took an eternity to get our dogs. I was hoping Smooth Dog would be succesfull as it was very close to my home and I liked the chili.

So, that concludes my journeys on the Summer of S.W.A.T. I was thrilled to be a part of a team that spent the summer sampling and reviewing hot dogs. I don't think there was a more comprehensive or in depth tasting of hot dogs held anywhere. It was an experience that I'll remember and savor for a long time.

When I go out for a hot dog I get one that fits the style I'm in the mood for. Tastes and preferences change; mine certainly do. I've since gone back to many of the establishments that we visited as well as some that we haven't and some brand new ones. I'd like to go over the five styles of hot dogs that we judged plus one that I've added which I felt should have been included all along, and to give my current opinions on my favorites in these categories.

Grilled pork and beef. Not included as its own category, but lumped in with all grilled dogs. The German style frank at Karl Ehmers was the highest rated in the style and my favorite as well. The quarter pound Schickhaus dog at Jimmy Buffs E. Hanover would have done well here had we gone. Griddled, then charbroiled, it was delicious. Frank & Fries had a quarter pound Thumanns griller that was prepared the same way. Unfortunately, Frank & Fries did not reopen until after we finished for the summer and then was sold and became a Mexican Restaurant shortly after opening again. This would have been my first choice. Wee Nee Wagon might have done well as they served a grilled Thumanns dog that I've heard was outstanding. Too bad they were not open when we went despite us arriving well within their posted hours. My current favorites in this style are Jimmy Buffs quarter pounder, the Kocher's dog served at Karl Ehmers, and the Galloping Hill Inn.

Grilled all beef. Syd's was the overwhelming favorite. I've since found a dog I like even better than Syd's. It's the footlong dog at Jimmy Buffs East Hanover. Same 5 to a lb natural casing Best Provision dog, but here it is heated in oil and finished off on a real charcoal grill. The result is a fantastic tasting dog that is juicy with a great charcoal broiled flavor that retains its perfect snap.

Papaya King recently opened a new location in Clifton subsequent to our tasting. In my opinion, it is the best place to get a grilled Sabrett. Tastes as good as Boulevard Drinks, but at a better size (10 to a lb rather than 12). Nathan's in the Menlo Park Mall makes an excellent grilled all beef dog as does the Dover Grill. If New York was included, I would have to add the charbroiled foot long at World's Best Hot Dogs and Hamburgers in Newburgh as a favorite. My top dogs in this category are Jimmy Buffs, Syd's, and Papaya King.

Deep fried. Although I listed Amazing Hot Dog as my favorite, I would change it to Rutts Hut. Their relish is unique and my favorite hot dog condiment. It compliments a "weller" perfectly. I like the footlong at Buffs that you can get deep fried. I prefer the size of this dog to the short andd thick dog served at Amazing. But I also like Amazing for their considerable variety of toppings. I enjoy the Reuben Dog in particular. Also add the pan fried dog at Charlies Pool Room as a favorite fried dog, though it can't be considered deep fried.

Dirty water dog. Jerry's remains my favorite. It is an 8 to a lb natural casing Best's that is boiled then finished off on a steel griddle for extra crunch. Despite liking the grilled dogs at Syd's and Jimmy Buffs better, Jerry's is the place I frequent more than any other hot dog joint. It's close to my home, serves great dogs at a good size and price ($1.50) quickly and efficiently. Tony's Truck and Dees are my other favorites.

Italian Hot Dogs. Tommy's in Elizabeth was my favorite and the favorite of the team. I've since found one as good at the E. Hanover location of Jimmy Buffs. It is better than their Scotch Plains and Irvington locations. These 2 are my top picks followed by Joe's in Vauxhall and Mijos's in Colonia.

Chili dogs. There are many kinds of chili to top hot dogs with. You have Tewas Weiner style, which features spices such as cinammon, nutmeg, cummin, and cloves. There's also hot, spicy chili, tomatoey chili, mild chili, etc. My favorite kind is the Texas Weiner chili. I picked Pappy's Diner as my favorite , although on subsequent visits I was turned off by having to wait much too long to be served. The Hot Grill's chili is just as good and the service is much better. The best thing about the Hot Grill is that they are most consistent. The dogs always taste great and the chili is always served at the perfect temperature. My three favorites are the Hot Grill, Pappy's, and Libby's. There is a chili dog outside of Jersey that I like even better. It is from the Coney Island Restaurant in Middletown, N.Y. which opened in 1924. It's a Texas Weiner chili that's thick and balanced containing just the right amount of spices without being cloying or too intense. I wish they would open another location in New Jersey.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews and descriptions of hot dog establishments almost as much as I enjoyed writing them.


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