Hot!New Jersey Hot Dogs

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big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/08/28 21:12:59
Hi John,
I've been fortunate that I never had a hotdog that was under
cooked,most of the time I request them well done if they are being cooked on a grill or deep fried,but I have seen on occasion a dog that was so discolored to the point of almost being entirely gray,
after being in hot water way too long.Most of the time the vendor will discard the hotdog after pointing this out to them,but some have told me that there is nothing wrong with them,at that point it's time
to find another vendor.
Benzee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/08/30 11:35:33
Hey all ,

We were able to secure a Deluxe Motorcoach with lavatory and videoscreens for the upcoming Jersey Hot Dog Tour on Sat. Sept 16th .
Hosted by John Fox , Benzee and CI Lou we will be visiting 10 of New Jerseys greatest Hot Dog establishments .

Intinerary set up by John
Tour shirts by CI Lou

We will meet at Galloping Hill Inn in Kenilworth at 11 am .
$20 per person for the bus

More info can be found at the Miscelaaneous Foods Section on its own thread

Benzee
Akavar
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/08/30 17:59:48
I have done some personal hot dog tastings this summer. Here is one write up.

I visited Max's and Windmill in Long Branch several times each this summer.

During my two visits to Max's I found the management to be not very friendly. By this I mean the manager and the cashier. Both times my wait person was efficient and professional, but the manager and the cashier neve smiled at anyone, not just me, or seemed to have any enthusiasm for what they were doing. I know that is not an assessment of the food, but if the atmosphere that I perceived is that objectionable to me, then it will have a great deal to do with any desire for future visits.

The food at Max's was OK, but not great. I found it interesting that they are about the only place that I tried this summer that does not use a variation on Cincinnati chili to top their dogs. They use a traditional Mexican style chili - beans and all. I found this too thin to properly cover the dog. Also, their technique of almost breaking the buns in half to toast them causes the buns to break in half once they were served. They further deteriorate once you start to eat your chili dog and make a mess that I found objectionable. The large dog was grilled and had a nice flavor and snap, but in my opinion, did not make up for all the other drawbacks I perceived at Max's.

I liked their milk shakes and the onion rings were passable. However, I thought all the prices were too high as a chili dog, rings, and milk shake were almost $15.

At the Windmill I had the chili dog, kraut dog, fries, and milk shake. I found the grilled dog to my liking, as was the chili that topped it. For the kraut dog, they put a big pot of kraut in front of you for you take how much you want. With some good brown mustard, the kraut dog had a nice balance. I also found the rings to be good as well as the shake.

I find that I much prefer the Windmill to Max's.
Akavar
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/08/30 18:01:21
Here is a write up on my visit to Clifton -

I decided to go to The Hot Grill for the first time. Had a chili dog and fries w/gravy. The dog was great I found it to have great flavor and a nice snap. Topped with a good brown mustard, chili and onions, I was still able to taste each ingredient. It was a very nicely balanced combination. The gravy on the fries had an excellent flavor, but the fries were too soft for my taste. I like crisp potatoes.

On that same excursion I went to Rutt's Hut for the second time in my life. I had a ripper and fries w/gravy. The ripper was great - especially with their home made relish. The fries were crisp - as I like them - but the gravy was not as tasty as the Hot Grill. If you could take the Hot Grill gravy and put it with the Rutt's Hut fries...

I tasted a lot more dogs this summer. In the interest of keeping the postings to a reasonable length I will post a few tastings at a time.

If the moderator thinks this should be in another thread or a thread of it's own I will gladly follow that guidance.

Akavar
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/01 09:06:32
This past Tuesday the S.W.A.T. Dog Team made our last trip. Between this one and the last one, there were a few places that were closed due to vacations, weather (outside carts and trucks) or just a case of closing earlier than what they state as their closing time. In the past we attemted to go back again. Because of time constraints, we were not able to this time, as the season is over and the Star Ledger has deadlines.

Some that we missed: JR's truck in Belleville. It was raining lightly Tuesday and the truck wasn't there. Same for Tom Nagle's cart in Sayreville. I'm sorry we missed this one because Tom serves Hatfield's Angus Beef dogs which taste particularly good cooked in water and is a welcome change from everyone else that serves Sabrett's. We also missed the Wee Nee Wagon on rt 46 in the Chester area. Their closing time was listed as 4:00, but we were there 3:25 last Friday the 25th and no one was at the truck. Well, we missed out reviewing a dog that might have been well received. Although a truck, (which usually boils their dogs) Wee Nee Wagon serves a grilled Thumann's. A&G in Roselle was closed for vacation.

We went to:

Hot Dog Arena, Hamilton
Casino Tony Goes, Trenton
Patty Wagon, Spotswood
Bear's, Sayreville
Freddy's Dogs, Scotch Plains
Majestic Lunch, Elizabeth
Smooth Dog, Union

We went to a total of 87 hot dog establishments. It would have been over 90 if some weren't closed. Originally we were aiming for between 55 and 70. Look for the year end article in next Friday's (9/8) Star Ledger. Our picks for top 3 dogs in 5 categories will be included, as well as miscellaneous categories (one per category here). Although each member gave their top 3 in each category, these won't be in the article. We had to come together and reach a consensus, which was determined in part by how many 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes were received. But for the most part, the overall picks pretty accurately reflected what were the best dogs. After the article comes out, I will print my picks here as well as in depth comments if anyone cares to read them. The Ledger can only give so much space to any one place. Not so here.

TnGuy
Hamburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/01 16:58:26
John:

I've very much enjoyed following along with your (and the S.W.A.T. Dog team's) travels week-by-week in the Star Ledger. And I certainly do look forward to reading your person take on things here at this forum after the newspaper series is over.


Akavar:

Please continue posting your thoughts and observations on your hot-dog adventures, as well. I'm sure that readers and fans of Jersey dogs will appreciate it.


TnGuy
Benzee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/02 09:46:49
John ,

If you could save me a copy of the paper that your reviews come out and I will get it the day of our Hot Dog Tour on Sept 16th .
Seats still available , we have a 56 pass. Deluxe Motorcoach to traverse the county in search of ( well we know where we are going thanks to John ) great dogs .

Akavar ,
Great reports , it will be interesting to see what you think of the places on the tour .

Everyone else ,
Go to Miscelaaneous Foods forum and we have a thread on the tour with all the details .

Benzee
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/02 18:12:37
Benzee,

I'll get you a copy of the paper. It won't contain all of my comments, only a summary of our summer along with what we picked as best dog in a number of categories. After the article is published, I'll be free to comment in depth on where we went.
Arutha5
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/03 13:16:36
John, why didn't the SWAT team go to the Papaya King on 86 St and 3 Ave., thats the orginal, I think they have the best dogs in the city.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/03 13:55:08
We considered it, but since the other location is close to Gray's, Crif's, and Katz's, Pete decided to go there to save time.
TnGuy
Hamburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/10 09:49:55
John:

Was great to read the S.W.A.T. summary after following along all through the summer. And I truly look forward to reading of your thoughts and experiences when you post them here.

I have to admit to being disappointed, though, in that after reading at the beginning of the summary article that "New Jersey...could qualify as the center of the hot dog universe" and that "(t)he Texas weiner, for one, began here", it turns out that there is not a separate category listed specifically for Texas Weiners - instead having them lumped into a generic "deep-fried dogs" grouping. If Jersey is so famous for Texas Weiners (which it most certainly and justifiably is), then this seems a rather broad and gross oversight.

But that being said, the S.W.A.T. team and the Star Ledger deserve alot of credit for first backing - and then seeing through - the idea of a comprehensive tasting, rating and in-depth look into the vast world of Jersey Doggery.

Congratulations on being a part of it.


TnGuy
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/10 10:14:22
TnGuy,

I would have liked 2 categories for grilled dogs; one for all beef and one for pork/beef. I suggested it, but Pete wanted to keep the categories to a minimum of 5. As far as Texas Weiners, it was decided that they should be included under chili dogs. We had so many dogs from carts and trucks that served chili on top of boiled dogs, that we figured it would be best to include all under chili dogs. A true Texas Weiner is either deep fried (North Jersey style) or grilled (Plainfield style). But since we were looking to judge the chili, we made it one category.
markolenski
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/10 12:15:56
John thanks to you and everyone involved for the work you did this summer. I think it is important because it will help keep these places in business. Too many people have forgotten or never had good roadfood. The chains will always be there we need as much help as we can muster to keep the small guys in business.
ken8038
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/12 21:38:43
To John: I too really enjoyed the NJ Hot Dog articles. I've added several places to my "to do" list. In fact I was off Monday and I too a solo trip down to Joyce's Hot Dogs in Brick. You guys were right about the Fries! Best I've had in a long time. Dogs were Ok. I was there early (around 11:30 AM) I can see how it would get backed up. I was 3rd on line and had to wait 10-15 mins to get my dogs.

One minor peeve about the Munchmobile articles in general. It's usually not too specific about whether a place is eat-in or just take out. I got the impression Joyce's was an eat in place, and after a 1 hour drive what I really needed was a place to, um, hit the head, and was disapointed to find just a walk up window. Same thing happened just a week ago, this time with my wife, we headed over to Hillside to the Callaloo Cafe (best wings) only to find 3 small tables and mainly a takeout operation. So we took out, but our intent was to eat in.

Anyway, since I never go to just one place, on the way back I headed up to Sea Bright to Rooney's Hot Dog cart. This was not a Munchmobile recommendation, but there was a Star Ledger feature article a few months back about Mrs. Rooney and her 40 years operating the cart at the same location. Nice dirty water Sabrett dog (I gave it a slight edge over Joyce's), and the cooked onions were really good, not the usual tomato-y style, but seasoned with mild spices instead.

Thanks for all the research! ---Ken (headed for Donny's in Newark on my next free day)
Akavar
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/13 07:28:15
I also read the Star Ledger Munchmobile articles. Many thanks to those involved for the effort made to find some good places for the rest of us to try.

I found the articles informative, but would also like a little bit more information at times. They also have inspired me to put a few more places on my list and get out and visit some new hot dog joints.
big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/09/14 00:32:12
I wish to thank all the S.W.A.T Munchmobilers for all there interesting articles on great places for hotdogs as well as a Special
Thank You for voting Pete Caggiano of Donny's Dogs the #1 hotdog truck
in Joisey.I used to work in Newark,and remember his first little red truck and the sign in 80's - 3 hotdogs for $2.00,and that included any and all toppings.He understood the neighborhood,and wanted to help out,not only by serving a good dog at a great price,but also supporting blood drives,churches and other charities,as well giving something to all the children that stop by with there parents,whether a small toy, or a free hotdog on certain holidays,plus senior citizen discounts and always serving his customers with a thank you and please come again.
TnGuy
Hamburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/02 12:19:36
John Fox:

Just wondering if you are still planning to post your picks and pans - as well as in-depth commentary and personal insights - on the various places you visited this past summer. I'm sure folks (myself certainly included) would enjoy your take on the various dogs you tried and the joints you visited.

Hope all is well with you and family.

TnGuy
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/02 20:14:06
TnGuy,

Thanks for reminding me; I completely forgot! I did intend to do so, but I have been busy lately. Then I forgot. I think what I'll do is review my notes and give a summary of the places we went to week by week. I'm still currently pressed for time, but will definitely post by Friday at the latest.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/06 16:34:27
Make it Saturday night or Sunday.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/08 11:59:34
This past summer I was part of a team that reviewed hot dogs for the Star Ledger. There was a weekly article that ran along with the regular Munchmobile article that featured a different food each time out. Because of the 2 features (regular Munchmobile and S.W.A.T. Dog) there was a limit as to how much could be included. Everyone on the panel had their own opinions and kept notes. I'll post my opinions here with some observations and comments.

We tried to hit as many places as we could; both the "name" places as well as the more obscure ones. There are easily a couple of hundred if not thousand places serving hot dogs in this state, from carts, trucks, restaurants, diners, to little hole in the wall type places. What follows are my observations and opinions, which were not neccesarily shared by everyone. We visited 87 places. I had been to 49 of them previously. A few that I hadn't gone to I had known about. The remainder were completely new to me.

There were 3 particular dogs that were served at many places. The carts, trucks, and other establishments that served boiled, or "dirty water dogs overwhelmingly used a Sabrett all beef dog. Since the dog and method of preparation were similar, I had to look at ways of distinguishing between the offerings of the many places that served this dog. Most of the team went by toppings. For me, I place the taste of the dog as most important. I usually got chili on half of the dog and tasted the other half first with just mustard. Or I got 2 dogs, one with a topping, one without. When judging the dirty water dogs, I looked for 3 things. Casing. Some had a casing, some were skinless. I prefer casing. Second was size. Many places served a tiny 12 or 13 to a lb dog. And charged what others charged for a bigger 10 to a lb dog. All things considered, I'll take the bigger dog. Third thing was temperature. Some dogs were served barely warm, others hot, others actually cold. I like the dog hot. Also, some natural casing dogs lost much of their snap due to being in the water too long. These dogs didn't do as well in my scoring.

The second brand of dog that we encountered frequently was the Thumanns dog for deep frying. This dog is popular in the northern part of the state, particularly Passaic County. Used a lot by people who serve the North Jersey style of Texas Weiner. In this case, I looked for 2 things that set these places apart. One, if the dog was left in the oil long enough. The better places cooked the dogs longer. I would suggest ordering your dog "well" or well done. The other thing I judged was the chili, as most of the places that use this dog are Texas Weiner joints.

The third most popular dog was the Grote & Weigel Friddle frank. Used at the places that serve a Plainfield area style Texas Weiner. This dog is griddled rather than deep fried, with a thicker or coarser chili. This dog tasted virtually the same at every place I visited. The only way to choose one over another was by the chili. The dogs were 6 to a lb and had less variation than the Sabrett dogs (different sizes and either casing or skinless) or the Thumanns for deep frying (slightly different sizes and variation in frying time).

Another factor to consider is that for the places I had been to many times before, I knew what to expect. But some of them will provide better service and try to provide a better product (more toppings, more attention to how the dog is prepared) when they knew that they were being reviewed. We had no choice but to rate the place based on what we experienced that day. But I can give my opinions of what I experienced in the past.

One other observation. I went to each place with an open mind. Some that I wasn't crazy about in the past, I enjoyed when I went with the team. And vice versa. This isn't an exact science, so certain factors like how you are feeling that particular day, how hungry you are, etc. will affect your taste. I tried to block everything out when judging the dogs. It's also worthy to note that on a few occasions, even though we had eaten a lot, the last dog sampled was judged to be the best of the day.

First outing, 5/18

1) JJ's hot dog truck, Bloomfield Ave. Newark.

They served a 12/lb skinless Sabrett, dirty water style. I've been to JJ's many times in the past. They have a reputation as one of the top trucks in the state. In the past (prior to August of 05) they used an 11 to a lb natural casing Sabrett. Since then, they switched to the skinless version in a smaller size. No doubt to save money. They are open until 3 or 4 in the AM to serve Rutgers college students and other late night revellers. At that hour, anything tastes good, and I doubt that the majority of their customers noticed that they switched dogs. JJ's is highly overrated in my opinion. When we went there, the dog was small and bland from being in the water too long. Again, similar to other places that use the same recipe Sabrett beef dog, what makes this place not as good as many others was the small, skinless, bland, waterlogged dog we had that day. This opinion was shared by most of the team.

2) Dickiee Dees Italian Hot Dogs, Bloomfield Ave. Newark

An authentic Jersey style Italian Hot Dog. They use Best skinless dogs deep fried, as do the majority of places making an authentic Italian Hot Dog. Difference is, these dogs are too small. 12 to a lb. Most use 10 to a lb. Some use 8. 8 is better. But Dickiee Dees uses the tiny dogs. Fried in peanut oil, the dog itself is very flavorful. This place I would rate as top 5 or 6 in the state, but it isn't in the top echelon because of the small size of the sandwich. The potatoes are in chunks rather than thinly sliced which I prefer, but it's a matter of taste. The peppers were hard and crunchy rather than soft. I prefer soft as did most of the team. Pete liked the harder peppers.

3) Amazing Hot Dog, Bloomfield Ave. Verona

A fairly new place known for the wide variety of toppings. They serve a 4 to a lb Best natural casing dog and deep fry it. They call it flash frying, but the dogs are prepared in a deep fryer. They're just fried for a few minutes and taken out before the skin splits open. This keeps the flavorful juices in and works for this dog. Amazing Hot Dog was voted best deep fried dog by the panel. It was also my pick, but I will say that choosing bewteen this dog and a beef/pork dog like Rutt's Hut was like choosing between apples and oranges. Rutt's has my favorite condiment (their relish), but in a tough decision, I picked the tastier dog from Amazing. The dog has a great flavor, but I like the dog a little thinner. Also, I prefer the mustard to be put on the dog, rather than on the bun. One comment made by the team was that there was too much mustard put on the dog. The fries were top of the line, as was the other toppings. The chili was one of the 5 best I sampled. It had a unique flavor. A great place serving a great dog.

More to come soon.
ScreenBear
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/08 20:37:19
Good first installment, John. It's just as if I were there.
The Bear
ken8038
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/08 20:40:32
Thanks for updating us John. Keep those reviews coming!

I had a day off Tuesday (and my son was home from College) so we did a mini trip to Newark. First stop was Donny's Dogs, based on the Munchmobile recommendation, and you guys were right. One of the best dirty water dogs I've had. I had one Chili Dog, One with Sweet onions, and One with Hot Onions. All for the bargain price of $4. My son had two of the special dogs at (I think) $1.75 each. The southern dog, and the cajun dog. He said they were great. You're right about JJ's, I've been there before and was not impressed, we skipped it.

Then we went over to Bragman's deli, on Hawthorne street, a holdover from 50 years ago when this was a Jewish neighborhood. In 2006 we were the only white people in there except for the owner. How they've managed to survive is beyond me, the hot dogs were a mess, and the ordering system was chaotic. Very small steamed Kosher Beef dogs on a cheap roll that fell apart immediately from the sauerkraut. My son had two Chili dogs which made an even bigger mess. We both voted Donny's as far superior. I also got a Turkey on Rye to bring home for my wife. It was a lot of meat for only $5.25, but she said it was just average.

Thanks again for all the tips. ---Ken
Benzee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/08 21:41:58
Great Job John ,

We visited Amazing and Dickiee Dees on the Hot Dog Tour and they were both great dogs in their own right . I remember John saying that JJs was overrated and a few even said they were living off their percieved reputation . Tonys Truck which is in same area was a great dog , but he did not want us there , and soured me on adding his truck to next years tour . We shall see though . Keep em coming John . Benzee
Foodbme
Porterhouse
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/09 03:27:19
quote:
Originally posted by NYNM

Question: Is there are special reason that Northen NJ is hodog capitol? Did it just "start" and then competition took over? Is it something about ethnicity in the area? (Italian primarily, maybe German?)

I live in NYC and never even knew about this subregional specialty.

Here's a link that sheds a little light on the history of hot dogs and how they might have migrated from NC to Jersey

http://www.hot-dog.org/hd/hd_history.htm

[|)]
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/09 08:52:51
I'm not really sure why North Jersey is the hot dog capital of the world (at least in my humble opinion) but a lot has to do with it's large population, specifically the large immigrant population and close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. We have a considerable Greek population (Texas Weiners) Italian (Italian Hot Dog and dirty water dog) German (beef/pork), and Jewish (kosher and kosher style). Jersey always had a lot of hot dog establishments and people loved and grew up on hot dogs.

Ken,

Donny's Dogs was ok, but not in my top 3. It was served hot, and a decent size (10 to a lb rather than 12), but the dog is skinless. It lacks the snap that natural casing dogs have. They did have a large selection of toppings, and this accounted for its popularity among the team. A quality dog for sure, but I would have liked it better if it was a natural casing dog. I asked the owner why he used a skinless dog instead, and he replied that kids and older people have a hard time with the skin. I've heard other hot dog vendors say this, but I don't believe it. Skinless is cheaper. And the great majority of customers at Donny's are neither kids or older people.

I'll keep the reviews coming.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/09 09:37:16
Second outing, 5/23

4) Jimmy Buffs, West Orange

Jimmy Buff's is the originator and original Italian Hot Dog. They've had numerous locations over the years. They currently have 3; East Hanover, West Orange, and Scotch Plains. The Irvington location closed recently. This is the one I visited most often. The West Orange location is owned by Jim Raccioppi, grandson of the founder. His uncle owns the Scotch Plains location and owned the Irvington one. The difference is that the locations owned by Jim serve a less greasy product than those owned by his uncle. Again, it's all a matter of preference. Many people like the extra grease. The team as a whole liked the sandwich at Jimmy Buff's. It finished second for Italian Hot Dog. Good bread, red and green peppers, potatoes sliced thinner than Dickiee Dees, but thicker than other places. A good, solid Italian Hot Dog. I went back since, and the dog was just as good, but there was only green peppers. The place to go on Tuesdays, as they charge half price. They call it Fat Tuesday.

5) Frankie D's, Center St. Nutley

A former pizzeria, Frankie D's has only been open a few years. They serve 3 types of dogs. An Italian Hot Dog, a deep fried dog, and a dirty water dog. The Italian dog is similar to Dickiee Dees. Same potato chunks. Good peppers, but way too much bread. The ingredients were buried inside the roll. A decent Italian dog, but not great. The deep fried dog was the Thumanns deep fryer used at many places. It needed more time in the oil. They also serve a dirty water dog that I did not sample. It is a Thumanns all beef frank. They use Best for the Italian Hot Dogs.

6) Galloping Hill Inn, Union

The GHI is one of the more popular joints in the state. They probably serve more hot dogs in the course of a day than anywhere else due to their location and high quality of their hot dog. The Hot Grill may be the only place that serves more dogs, but they are open until 1 AM, while GHI closes at 9PM. They use a 6 to a lb natural casing Grote & Weigel frank. It's important to note that this dog is a different recipe than the G&W franks used at many of the Texas Weiner joints. Originally produced by Gaiser's in Union, GHI took the recipe and had it made at Grote & Weigel. This dog was well liked by the team and the people attending the Hot Dog Tour. It is a tasty beef and pork dog in the German style. It was in the top 3 for grilled dog on a few team member's score cards. I was hoping that there would be a category for grilled beef/pork dogs and a separate one for grilled all beef dogs. Since Pete wanted to limit the categories to five, he decided to have only one for grilled dogs. Two out of the three picks were for all beef dogs. Galloping Hill was easily one of the three best grilled beef/pork dogs. I would have put it right behind the dog we had at Karl Ehmers.

7) Jerry's Famous Frankfurters, Elizabeth Ave. Elizabeth

A walk up storefront serving an 8 to a lb all beef natural casing Best brand frank. It is boiled and then placed in a steel compartment (like a small griddle) to add extra crunch. This is an excellent hot dog and my pick for best dirty water dog. It was also the first place pick of another S.W.A.T. member. Unfortunately, this dog did not place top three. I like the flavor and spicing better than the more common Sabrett dog that we had a million times this summer. I would go so far as to say that it was my second favorite dog of the summer. It tasted so good that night that after having 2 Italian Hot Dogs (Jimmy Buffs and Frankie D's) and 2 regular dogs (Frankie D's deep fried dog and Galloping Hill Inn) I wolfed down 3 of them. Although I love Jerry's, they are not always consistent. You will get a bad dog occasionally.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/09 10:00:34
quote:
Originally posted by ScreenBear

Good first installment, John. It's just as if I were there.
The Bear


You were!
eggsactley
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/14 15:34:42
It looks like Frank's Newark Style Italian Hot Dogs has become a victim of the Route 1 upgrade. I passed there yesterday and it looks like they have closed for good.
TnGuy
Hamburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/17 09:37:51
John:

Really enjoying your commentary. And glad to see that you are stretching it out a bit by writing up only a few places at a time. It gives us readers enough to enjoy and leaves us with something to anticipate. And I'm sure it's alot easier on your end to not have to put together one single, enormous post.

Thanks again and keep up the good work.


TnGuy

p.s. - sorry I haven't responded sooner. My wife and I have been away on vacation for the past 10 days.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/17 19:43:07
I've been very busy lately; otherwise I would have posted more often. Hopefully I'll have more time soon to post. I had intended to have the whole thing done in a week or 2.
MrDimn
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/18 13:50:41
Hi there folks -

I am new to the board, and I wanted to join in the conversation.

I am originally from Bloomfield, NJ and lived off of JJs growing up and now I am living in San Diego and I was missing that taste of a good dog.

I was suprised to find out that JJs has gone down hill! It was a shot to the chest... or maybe it was that shot of adrenaline the Drs. gave me from eating too many hot dogs.

I would like to thank every one for getting a good discussion going on the topic. And thanks to you and your team John for covering the different joints.

I was wondering is there a web site to download a list of the hot dog places that were reviewed and a rating system attached to them??

The Star Ledger site no longer has the list available (without paying for it).

If anybody has any TOP TOP (yes, I said it twice) recommendations for the BLFD or Edison areas, please let me know. I am coming into town for Thanksgiving, and I normally grab a few chili dogs at JJs, but with the quality going down hill, that leaves me with Rutts (my other personal favorite) in the Bloomfield area. Any good suggestions for the Edison area? I usually stay at a hotel down that way.

So please give me a few tips!

Thanks,

Doug
Sneetch
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/18 15:18:25
Ricci D's Front Street Cafe in Keyport is just a short ride from Edison south on the parkway, exit 117...Mike and Pops serve up a fresh, tasty italian dog (Best brand), or with the usual toppings, if you're a purist - they also make great burgers, and the onion rings remind me of those crunchy bits of paradise I loved as a kid from Jack-In-the-Box...they are closed on monday, I believe...
MrDimn
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/18 20:21:05
Hey Sneetch -

Thanks for the tip. I will have to try them out. I am always open to try new places.

I know the Keyport area. I used to hang out in Hazlet all the time!

Thanks for the info!

Doug
ScreenBear
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/19 00:44:00
Mr. Dimn,
From Edison, the closest great Italian Hot Dog would be, hands down, Tommy's South (2320 Route #130, North, North Brunswick, N.J.). It's owned by the folks who run Tommy's in Elizabeth.
The Bear
MrDimn
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/19 15:47:03
quote:
Originally posted by ScreenBear

Mr. Dimn,
From Edison, the closest great Italian Hot Dog would be, hands down, Tommy's South (2320 Route #130, North, North Brunswick, N.J.). It's owned by the folks who run Tommy's in Elizabeth.
The Bear


Hey Bear -

Thanks for the tip. How are the potatoes in that dog? big & fat, or kinda thin? And how are the peppers in it? Soft? Weak? Crunchy?

And also to all the readers out there... What are some good places to replace JJs chili dogs.

They really used to have some great chili dogs! But if the dogs aren't as good, then why even go... (yes, I am a bit saddened by it...)

So any comments are appreciated. I come back to NJ twice a year... T-day, and X-mas and I always enjoy classic NJ food...
such as Taylor Ham , Egg & cheese sandwiches...
(Don't tell me here about good places for pork roll sandwiches... I don't want to corrupt this fine topic!)

Thanks,

Doug
big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/21 13:04:51
Donny's Dogs has been serving the Newark,Nj, area for 19 years,
and a large portion of his afternoon and early evening business is senior citizens and children getting out of school,and at 3 hotdogs for $4.00 with any and if you want all toppings that is hard to beat.The same meal at some of the Union county stands would be more than double that price.Again Donny's Dogs serving a good dog at a great price.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/22 07:45:19
big g,

Three dogs for $4.00 is a pretty good deal, considering that many of the places serving dirty water Sabretts charged $1.70 to $1.80 for one dog. And more for toppings. Many of these dogs were 12 to a lb, which is smaller than the 10 to a lb dog that Donnies uses. And this is all over the state, not just Union County.

An even better bargain would be at Jerry's. They charge $1.50 for a dog with any and all toppings included in that price. I like the dogs so much that I just get them with mustard. And they are bigger than Donnies at 8 to a lb. So you're getting 3 bigger dogs with a natural casing (which Donnies doesn't have) for $4.50. These dogs are boiled, then finished off on a steel griddle for a minute or 2. I also prefer the brand (Best) to Sabrett.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/22 08:44:07
Third outing, 5/30

8) Tony's Truck, Branch Brook Park, Newark

Tony's uses a 10 to a lb natural casing Golden D all beef dog from the Bronx. This truck is known for their hot onions, which I don't eat since I hate onions. But others rave about them. I had been to Tony's once before and thought the dog was ok. Since then, I've been there once with the Munchmobile, one or 2 other times, and most recently with the 06 Hot Dog Tour. My opinion of Tony's has gone way up. The dog itself is a high quality all beef dog. I asked Tony why he used this particular brand, which is seen at many New York street carts, but not in Jersey. He told me that he prefers a dog with a little less spice and garlic than the more common Sabrett. This dog is served hot and tastes good with mustard or the chili they have which is spicy, but not too spicy, with a slight tomatoey taste. I would put this dog right below Jerry's for a dirty water dog. In fact, it came in second to Donnies Dogs in the voting. When asked at the end for our personal favorite dog of the summer, Pete Genovese picked Tony's.

The owners of this truck requested that both the Munchmobile and the 06 Hot Dog Tour not come to Tony's. I thought this odd, but it was explained to me that they do not want any publicity because they are in a high crime area and fear being robbed. It has happenned before and they don't want anyone reading about Tony's and knowing that they are succesfull and therefore have a lot of money.

One other thing about Tony's. They get very busy, but have 2 windows from which they serve dogs. I would have to say that they are the fastest and most efficient at pumping out dogs. Just great, fast service. Also, on the Hot Dog Tour, Tony's had 13 votes for best dog of the day, finishing just behind Syd's with 14.

9) Rutt's Hut, Clifton

Easily one of, if not THE most well known hot dog joints in Jersey. Known for their deep fried dogs called rippers, their dogs (Thumanns for deep frying) are made especially for deep frying. The dog has a natural casing and comes about 8 to a lb. Many North Jersey dog houses use this particular dog, but what sets Rutt's apart is 2 things. One is that you can get the dogs cooked to different degrees of doneness. Most places that use this dog fry it the minimum amount of time. It tastes better if it is left in the oil longer. At Rutt's you can get an "in and outer", "ripper", "weller", or "cremator". I prefer the weller myself. The other thing that sets this dog apart is their unique mustard based relish. My favorite hot dog topping, this relish goes great with the somewhat mild dog. People are split on this dog. You either love it or hate it. To some, it is the best dog in the universe. To other's it is horrible. May be an aquired taste. This dog came in second place to Amazing Hot Dog for deep fried dog. But they are 2 entirely different animals, as Amazing uses a more well seasoned all beef dog. Hard to say which is better. Depends on your mood I guess. But I voted for Amazing based on just the dog alone, since most of the time I prefer a spicier beef dog. Other times, nothing hits the spot like a Rutt's dog. One member of the SWAT Team voted for Rutt's as her favorite dog of the summer.

10) Hot Grill, Lexington Ave. Clifton

A short distance from Rutt's Hut is The Hot Grill, known for its Texas Weiners. This version is the North Jersey/Hot Texas Weiner, which is deep fried and topped with thin chili sauce. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices are all typical of the chili served in the Passaic County area. Again, this may be an aquired taste. Someone on our panel referred to this type of chili as ginerbread cookie chili. The reviews on the Texas Weiners were usually based on whether the SWAT member liked this particular chili or not. And in the voting, all dogs with chili were lumped into the Chili Dog category regardless of whether they were North Jersey Texas Weiners, Plainfield Area Texas Weiners, dirty water dogs topped with chili, or something else. Most North Jersey Texas Weiner places use the Thumanns deep fryer. Some use the Sabrett beef and pork dog. The Hot Grill uses the Sabrett. It's a little milder than the Thumanns, but goes great with the chili.

Opinions were mixed on the Hot Grill. I love this type of chili, and the Hot Gill has always been one of my favorite Texas Weiners. Quick service and the chili is served at the perfect temperature. This dog was well liked by the people attending the 05 Jersey Hot Dog Tour.

According to the owner of the Galloping Hill Inn, who is friends with the owners of the Hot Grill, the three places serving the most hot dogs in Jersey are: 1) The Hot Grill 2) The Galloping Hill Inn 3) Max's. The Galloping Hill Inn would probably sell more if they stayed open as late as the Hot Grill, which is open to 1 AM.

11) New Corral, Hazel St. Clifton

This was the first time here for me. A diner type place serving the deep fried Thumanns. Not much to say about this place. The dog was ok, but not left in the oil long enough. The Texas Weiner sauce was average and lacked the complexity of the better chili sauces of this type. If you're in the area, you're better off going to the Hot Grill.

12) Libby's Lunch, McBride Ave. Paterson

One of the original Texas Weiner joints. Opened in 1936, this small old fashioned diner serves what many consider to be the archetypal North Jersey Hot Texas Weiner. They use the Thumanns deep fryer and fry it for the right amount of time. The chili sauce is the clovey, cinammony sauce that is typical of the area. Very similar to the Hot Grill. Until this year, I rated The Hot Grill #1 and Libby's #2 for dogs in this category (North Jersey or Hot Texas Weiner) I've since found one I like better, which I'll name when I get to it, but Libby's and The Hot Grill remain 2 of the three best in my opinion. I like the Hot Gill's sauce a tad better than Libby's, but I like the dog itself a tad better at Libby's.

Service was very good. Great atmosphere and they serve beer.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/22 08:53:59
I spoke to the owner of Syd's yesterday. Their last day at the current location will be this coming Saturday. Their lease is up and they were unable to negotiate a deal. Their rent would have been raised considerably. They will be moving to nearby Springfield. The address is 234 Morris Ave. Springfield. Syd's will be moving into an existing business. It's a luncheonette called Tony's. Both businessess will be serving their food under a kind of profit sharing agreement. It will take a few days to a week to make the transition.

Syd's originally opened in Newark in 1941. There were many owners in it's history, but the same great dogs, considered by many, myself included, to be the finest in Jersey. They moved to their current location in the Millburn Mall (still considered Union despite the name) in 1967. You may want to head down there one more time before they close.
Benzee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/22 10:31:55
Hello John ,

Thanks for the news . Are you gonna make a stop there during the week .
I'm up for one more visit .

What I need is directions from GSP to Syds .
Only times I was there was with the tour , excellent dog one of the best I've ever eaten .

I'm up for a visit one day this week mid afternoon

Benzee
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/22 13:26:48
Benzee,

I'll be there one more time this week, but probably in the early evening. I've been working to 5 or 6 o'clock every day, with no day off but Sunday. Maybe some others would like to join you? If you're up for a later run, contact me.

It's easy to get to Syd's if you are travelling south on the GSP. Get off at exit 141 (this exit only exists going south) and at the end of the exit is Vauxhall Rd. You can either go left or right. To get to Syd's, make a right and stay on Vauxhall Rd. about 2 or 3 miles until you get to the Millburn Mall. Make a right into the parking lot and you are there.
Benzee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/24 16:57:25
Hello Mr Dimn ,

Check out the Misc. Foods section thread on our recent Hot Dog Tour . There is a picture we just posted of the group in front of Amazing Hot Dogs. Eric the owner is kneeling next to me ( I'm the big guy). John could give you directions to Tonys Truck , it is not far from JJs .

I would love to visit Syds late afternoon or evening , I did not know they would be open that late . Let me know what day and time you may stop John and perhaps we can meet for a dog .

I will throw out Thurs evening , what do you think and thanks for the directions from the GSP .

Benzee
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/24 19:38:26
Mr Dimn,

If you are on Bloomfield Ave approaching JJ's on your left,to get to Tony's make the first right after JJ's. It is either Lake or Park. Just go down the street until you run into the truck.

Benzee,

Syd's shuts down the grill at 6:45. Thursday is bad for me. I will be meeting with the new owner of Frank & Fries after work Thursday. They will be opening the following Monday. I'll let you know more soon.
MrDimn
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/25 19:07:45
Benzee -

That's a cool pic! Plus it helps me know what I am looking for while I driving to Amazings!! I'll tell them you and John sent me! ;-)

John -

Thanks for the tip on finding that truck! I wanted to ask before you told me just so you don't break any NDAs you signed before releasing the location of the truck! ;-)

And I'll probably be bothering everyone again in Decemeber. That's when I come back to NJ by myself. It's at that time frame I will really do some exploring in search of good food.

Actually, I might as well ask now... Anybody knows a good place open late on Christmas Eve. I usually watch my mother sing in the choir, and then go out with some friends for a late night snack.

Any suggestions?

Oh... if you think, Christmas is so far away... It will be here sooner than you know! ;-)

Ciao

Doug
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/25 19:28:32
I think Rutt's Hut may be open late Christmas Eve.
MrDimn
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/26 12:01:56
quote:
Originally posted by John Fox

I think Rutt's Hut may be open late Christmas Eve.


John -

Thanks for the info!! That will make my Christmas Eve a little bit nicer!

Thanks!

Doug
ken8038
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/28 10:57:21
<<It looks like Frank's Newark Style Italian Hot Dogs has become a victim of the Route 1 upgrade. I passed there yesterday and it looks like they have closed for good.>.

Now it's more than closed, it ain't even there anymore. Passed there yesterday. Just a vacant lot, ready for the widening of Rt 1.

---Ken (not ready for 3 years of traffic jams on the way to the good Costco in Edison.)Actually I do have a round about way to get there from Union County, which I will begin to use.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/10/28 19:13:46
Fourth outing, 6/6

13) Tommy's Italian Sausage & Hot Dogs, Elizabeth & 2nd Ave. Elizabeth

It seems that a large number of places we visited that placed in the voting were in the beginning of the summer's tasting. That was certainly the case here, as 2 of the offerings sampled this night took first place in the voting. Tommy's is a walk up up store front located 2 or 3 doors down from Jerry's Famous Frankfurters. They have had a reputation since opening in 1969 as serving one of the best, if not the best, Italian Hot Dog. Our panel, as well as myself, voted this dog #1. In the past, Tommy's has been inconsistent. Sometimes serving a good amount of peppers, many times just a few. On more than one occasion, I have been told by friends that they had one lonely pepper on their sandwich. This also happenned to my wife. Tommy's has gone back and forth between 10 to a lb dogs and 8.

The last few months, though, Tommy's has remained consistent. Which is why they got my vote. Decent bread, although softer in texture than a lot of other Italian Hot Dog joints. They now use a special long, thin, 8 to a lb dog (Best's). They've increased the amount of peppers (perhaps due to criticism) and their potatoes remain the best you can get for an Italian Hot Dog. One thing I make it a point to do is to request the peppers cooked so that they are soft. Some places, like Dickiee Dees, prefer to leave them crunchy. Make sure you specify how you want them done if it makes a difference to you. Otherwise they will probably come crunchy. Being that an Italian Hot Dog is made up of several different ingredients, it's hard to get one that does everything to your liking. One place may serve good hard chewy bread that you might prefer to softer, Philadelphia style bread. The potatoes are sliced either thin, thicker, or in chunks. One place may have great vegetables and bread, but too small dogs. There are a lot of variables. That's why, when I'm in the mood, I prefer to make my own Italian Hot Dogs. This might sound like bragging, but I make everything to my liking, and the result is an Italian Hot Dog that I like better than any that I've bought out, including Tommy's. It's easier than you might think. I use quality bread from a bakery that used to supply many of the Italian Hot Dog joints until the owner stopped making a large quantity; 8 to a lb Best dogs (in my opinion the perfect size), a good amount of red and green peppers cooked the way I like, and potatoes that I slice thin with the use of a mandoline. The peppers come out as good as Charlies (the best for peppers IMO) the potatoes are on a par with Tommy's, only slightly less greasy, (my wife and others actually prefer mine over Tommy's), the bread is top quality and as good as any I've had, as are the dogs. Combined, it makes for one great sandwich. You can do the same at home provided that you have a deep fryer, a mandoline, and the ingredients for an Italian Hot Dog.

14) Syd's, Millburn Mall, Vauxhall Rd. Union

Taking into consideration the many types and styles of hot dogs, (we voted on 5 categories; there could have been more) if our panel had to vote on just one dog that is the best in Jersey, Syd's wins. In fact, we did have an informal vote among the 8 of us. Although we visited 87 places, some served more than one type of dog, so we easily had over 90, and maybe 100 different hot dogs. Five out of 8 people picked Syd's as best overall hot dog of the summer. Out of the three dissenters, one picked Rutt's Hut, one picked Hirams, and Pete picked Tony's Truck. In it's category of grilled hot dog, Syd's got 7 of 8 first place votes. The person not voting for Syd's for first place had them for second. This person prefers pork based dogs and picked Karl Ehmer's for first place in the grilled category. No other hot dog got as many first place votes in their category.

Syd's serves a long, 5 to a lb natural casing Best's all beef frank. The dog can be ordered grilled or boiled. Grilled is actually boiled first and then put on a gas grill and char broiled. The result is a dog that is damn close to perfection. Excellent flavor, a great spicing, perfect snap to the casing, perfect size for a dog. I can understand someone preferring a German style pork and beef dog to this one, since the two styles are considerably different, but for an all beef kosher style dog, none comes close to Syd's.

As for the place itself, today was the last day at the current location. It was in a luncheonette in a strip mall. One thing many people didn't like about Syd's is that you couldn't just walk in and get a hot dog. You had to sit and be waited on. And recently the service has gotten bad. We had to wait a very long time to be served the day of the Hot Dog Tour. The last few times, including today, the service has been subpar, even when not crowded. But the dogs are fabulous.

I've mentioned it in the past, but you can buy these same dogs to make at home. They are available at Best Provisions on Avon Ave. in Newark. I get them all the time and prepare them like they do at Syd's.

15) J's Italian Beef & Sausage, St. Georges Ave. Linden

Jack, the owner, is from Chicago and serves sandwiches that are popular there such as Italian Beef and sausage. He also serves great barbecue. And Chicago style hot dogs. In fact, this is the only place in New Jersey where you can get an authentic Chicago style hot dog. Vienna beef franks, neon green relish, sports peppers, etc, shipped in from Chicago. The dog is a 6 to a lb skinless Vienna Beef brand dog that is served on a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, neon green relish, onions, tomato slices, a dill pickle, celery salt, and sports peppers. The dog itself is made from bull meat and brisket. It's a quality beef dog, but milder than what many of us are used to, such as Sabrett, Nathan's, Best, or Hebrew National. For a plain dog, I would prefer these four to the Vienna, but the Vienna dog goes well with all of the ingredients on a Chicago dog. The preferred method of preparation is boiling. They call it steaming, but the dogs are put in a compartment with hot water and the lid is shut, creating steam. If you order a regular dog instead of Chicago style, you can get it boiled or grilled. The grilled dog is called a char dog, and is pretty good. You get more flavor this way than boiled. But get the Chicago dog boiled, which is the traditional way. The dog, being milder than what we're used to (but still spicier than a beef/pork dog) mixes well with the other ingredients and doesn't overpower them.

This dog didn't really go over well with the panel. I believe the Chicago dog is an aquired taste. I am a minimalist when it comes to hot dogs, usually preferring just some mustard on mine. I did like the contrast between hot meat and cool vegetables though. And since we reviewed this place on June 6th, I've been back a number of times. I can honestly say that I've aquired a taste for this particular dog. I do, though, have to be in the mood for it. I voted for J's for first place in the Creative, Original, or Unique category, being that they are the only place serving an authentic version of a hot dog that is wildly popular in and around Chicago. To many people, this is what a true hot dog tastes like. While I wasn't crazy about it, I have become a fan and now see why so many people rave about Chicago hot dogs.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/03 08:22:52
Fifth outing, 6/13

16) Chris's Truck, Heller Parkway, Newark

The second of many hot dog trucks, carts, and other establishments serving the Sabrett dirty water dog. JJ's was the first. The other truck we visited up to this point was Tony's, which served a Golden D frank. As I mentioned earlier, the great majority of dirty water dogs we encountered were Sabrett. A great beef dog for sure, and in my top 3. But how do you distinguish between all these places that serve the same dog prepared the same way? For most, it was the toppings or condiments. For me it was size, (10 or 8 to a lb being preferable) whether it had a casing, and how hot it was. I should mention a 4th factor. Freshness. Although I believe virtually all of these dogs were not old, many were left in the water too long. JJ's is an example. At least when we went. When left in the water too long the dog loses flavor and snap if it has a natural casing.

The dog at Chris's was an 11 to a lb skinless Sabrett. A little smaller than what I prefer, and without the casing. But it was served hot enough. I had chili on half of my dog, and it was average hot dog truck chili. For me, this place typified what most hot dog trucks were about. A decent, but unspectacular dog. Could have been bigger. Could have had casing. For the rest of the team, this truck did stand out in the sense that it recieved a vote for best hot onions. According to those who eat them, this place and Tony's had the best hot onions. For the top five categories (grilled, boiled, deep fried, chili, and Italian) places were rated one through three. For the miscellaneous categories, (the Coney's) there was only one winner.

17) Callahan's, rt 46 Little Ferry

As many of you know, the original Callahan's location in Fort Lee was closed and turned into a bank. But there are still 2 locations left. This one and another in Hasbrouck Heights. According to Rick Castrianni, owner of the Fort Lee location, all Callahan's restaurants serve the same hot dog. Which is a beef and pork Sabrett dog. It is deep fried. The small dog is a 6 to a lb. They also serve a quarter pounder, and a super dog which is even bigger. This particular dog is very mild, even considered bland. It does taste better if you put a quality chili on top like the Hot Grill does. Not bad, but not one of my favorites. I've always preferred the Thumanns deep fryer served at Hirams, which is right across the street from where the Fort Lee Callahan's was.

You order the size dog you want and then you put on your own toppings at a fixins bar. They have mustard, ketchup, kraut, relish, onions, and maybe something else. Chili is extra, and has to be ordered. The team was down on this dog. I think part of the reason is that it was bland compared to the all beef Sabrett we had previously at Chris's.

18) Hiram's, Fort Lee

This place is a real Jersey roadside joint. Inside it looks like a small neighborhood bar, which in fact it could be considered. There is a small bar and a few tables. Behind the bar is the open kitchen area where the deep fryers are. Hiram's serves the Thumann's deep fryer. I'm not sure of the size, but I would guess 7 or 8 to a pound. The dog is thicker than what is served at Rutt's Hut and many other places using the same recipe dog. As at all of the establishments that serve this dog, be sure to ask for it well done or at Hiram's, the expression is one "well". Rutt's, Libby's, Hot Dog Heaven, and Pappy's Diner are a few places where you don't have to make this request, since they do prepare them this way.

The Thumann's deep fryer was one of the top 3 more common dogs that we encountered this summer, along with the Sabrett all beef dog (dirty water dogs) and the Grote & Weigel griddle frank (many Texas Weiner joints). The dog at Hirams stood out from most serving this particular dog in a couple of ways. The dog itself was a little thicker. It was served on a quality toasted bun. It was fried for a sufficient amount of time, even if I had to request it. And the chili here was one of the better ones we had all summer. In fact it was voted best chili dog by the team. So in Hirams, we have another first place winner in one of the five major categories. I had my dog with just mustard, but did have a bite of someone's chili dog. It was definitely one of my favorite chili's. A bit on the spicy side as well. This dog, as mentioned previously, was the favorite overall dog of one of our S.W.A.T. members.

19) Johnny & Hanges, Fair Lawn

Johnny & Hanges original location was Paterson, birthplace of the Jesrey Hot Texas Weiner. Some years ago they moved to their current location. J&H is a standard North Jersey or "Hot" Texas Weiner restaurant. Serving the Thumann's deep fryer and topping it with the thin Texas Weiner sauce. Average to pretty good dog and sauce. J&H is one of the very few Texas Weiner joints to also offer an all beef dog. This dog is bigger in size and also a Thumann's. I've had it in the past and enjoyed it, but on this particular night the all beef dog was too dry. Mixed reviews from the team.

20) Goffle Grill, Hawthorne

A fairly popular Texas Weiner joint in the Hawthorne, Midland Park area. Similar in looks to the Hot Grill or Johnny & Hanges; it is a typical fast food place as far as appearance. They serve the Thumanns deep fryer, but here it tastes bland. This has been my experience the 5 or 6 times I've been here. The chili sauce has a harsh taste to it. Tangy, vinegary, and unpleasant. No one on the team liked this dog.

edited to change the date of the trip which was incorrectly posted.
big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/03 16:15:47
Then there was one,Callaghans in Hasbrouck Heights is gone,they already started to demolish the building,the only one left is in Little Ferry,on rt 46 east.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/03 18:07:42
I had a chance to visit Tony's Place today. This is currently where Syd's moved to and is in sort of a merger with. I wasn't crazy about Tony's. About half the size of Syd's. There were a lot of people working there running around getting in each other's way. None of them from Syd's either. Service was slow as well. I only ordered a dog and it took forever. As for the dog, it was the same Syd's dog prepared the same way. I spoke with Eric (Syd's owner) last week and he said the same grill was being moved to Tony's. The grill is in the back, and Eric is back there preparing the dogs and burgers.
I didn't get a chance to speak with him; only said hello, as he stuck his head out once and had to return. The dog was barely warm; at the old Syd's it was served hot always. The roll fell apart. Syd's always used Bakers Touch buns, and when they started making them cheaper, he continued using them although they were put in a special toaster oven that I don't think is being used at Tony's. I heard someone else there remark to some friends that the dog is the same, but the bun isn't. I saw Eric once again before I left; this time I asked about the bun. He told me it was the same and added a but. He was cut off by someone at Tony's before he could finish answering my question. He knows how to prepare hot dogs, so I think the dog was warm due to a delay in getting it from the back to me. The dog was $3.49, which is about 20 cents more than what I remember paying.

I also spoke with a waitress from Tony's. She said the food is theirs (Tony's) except for the hamburgers and hot dogs. I mentioned that I had hoped the fries would be Syd's, as they were homemade, hand cut , and not frozen. One of the better french fries I've had in Jersey. I didn't order Tony's fries, but they were the standard, frozen Sysco fries. I mentioned this to the waitress, and was told that it's a lot of work making fries (I don't care, I'm the one eating them) and that maybe in the future, Eric would be making them.

I realize it's only the first week, but I hope they work the kinks out. Syd's always had a great hot dog; I would hate to see the quality go down. The other food was great as well; it's a shame that Tony's is serving cheap frozen fries instead of what Syd's had. Hopefully in the near future, Eric will get his own place, hire his own people, and have total control over everything; more importantly the menu.


MrDimn
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/03 18:17:04
John -

Was Tony's place the one down in Union off of Vaux Hall?

Thanks,

Doug
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/04 08:31:38
No; Tony's Place is located at 234 Morris Ave. in Springfield, shortly past the Union border.
big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/04 11:13:22
Callaghan's is down to one location,I always thought they served a good hotdog at a fair price in a nice establishment.The only difference I have is the way they cooked the Sabrett's they serve, I would prefer the method of first steaming or cooking the dogs in hot water,then finish them on a flat or charcoal grill,instead of the deep frying method.
big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/04 12:27:24
quote:
Originally posted by spookyman
Hot Dog Johhny's is located on US 46 in or near Butzville. Last time I checked, the place was still going strong. They specialize in so-so hot dogs and, of all things, buttermilk!
WOW, 60 years in business selling "just so-so hotdogs" and buttermilk. Hey what about the great fries or the great rootbeer or other great soft drinks they still serve in the old fashioned glass mugs,what about their great milkshakes and ice cream,yeah I guess a lot of food places stay in business that long with just so-so food.
spookyman
Junior Burger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/05 23:36:12
quote:
Originally posted by big g in joisey

quote:
Originally posted by spookyman
Hot Dog Johhny's is located on US 46 in or near Butzville. Last time I checked, the place was still going strong. They specialize in so-so hot dogs and, of all things, buttermilk!
WOW, 60 years in business selling "just so-so hotdogs" and buttermilk. Hey what about the great fries or the great rootbeer or other great soft drinks they still serve in the old fashioned glass mugs,what about their great milkshakes and ice cream,yeah I guess a lot of food places stay in business that long with just so-so food.


sorry to hurt your feelings, but the hot dogs are indeed so-so. Too long a ride for french fries or root beer. And there are plenty of places that have been around for years selling so-so (or worse) food.
big g in joisey
Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/06 21:16:43
My feelings were not hurt,taste is very subjective,and entirely up to the individual,the point I was trying to get across was that statistically almost 90% of food establishments fail within the first year,for one to be flourishing for more than 60 years with just so-so
food in area as remote as Buttzville,Nj,would seem unlikely.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/11 08:32:48
Occasionally I drive past the site where Father & Son will be opening. You can't tell from the outside what's going on, but I've heard from someone that Father & Son's chili sauce, as well as their hot dogs are being sold around the corner at City Hall Deli. I went to check it out, and bought a pint of chili to take home, and had a dog there. Both are the same. The owner of this deli hasn't heard anything regarding when Father & Son will re-open. But you can enjoy their wonderful chili dogs and purchase their chili at the City Hall Deli on Wood Ave.

On another note, a new A&P opened yesterday on my mail route on Raritan Rd. in Clark. A beautiful supermarket that's nicer and has more to choose from than the Shop Rite around the corner. They are also one of the only places I know of where you can get Boars Head natural casing all beef hot dogs. Inside the store is a pushcart with a Boars Head umbrella where they serve dirty water dogs for a dollar. A great deal and a great dog. 8 to a pound and served hot with a choice of mustard and sauerkraut. This dog is definitely one of the best all beef franks and has a nice tight casing. I asked if the cart was going to be permanent, and was told that they would only have it for the Grand Opening ceremonies. I spoke to some people there and suggested that they make it permanent. They have decided to have a smaller cart in the front of the store serving hot dogs. If you're in the area, I suggest you try one. Or two. Or three. A good idea to eat before you shop so that you don't shop hungry and buy a whole lot of food that you wouldn't normally buy.
John Fox
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/12 13:48:13
Sixth outing, 6/20

21) Donnies Dogs, Central Ave & 15th St. Newark

Only our 6th outing out of a total of 16, but with Donnies Dogs, we've already been to all 5 first place finishers. Just worked out that way. Still, a lot of great dogs left. Donnies was voted first place by our panel for best Dirty Water Dogs. I think it got one first place vote, but a lot of second and thirds. My first place vote went to Jerry's. Another member also voted for Jerry's for first place, but no one else had them in their top 3. Donnies is a hot dog truck parked on the street next to Fairmount Cemetary. Owner Pete Caggiano serves 10 to a lb skinless Sabrett's. Bigger than many of the trucks serving the 11's and 12's. And served hot and fresh. In my opinion, the one thing this dog lacked that is important to me in a dirty water dog is the snap of a natural casing. Had this been included, Donnies would have been in my top 3. It would have met my criteria of a dirty water dog being served hot, fresh, with a good snap, at a decent size. There were a few that did meet this criteria, but what would have put Donnies in my top three instead of one of the others would have been the variety of toppings and condiments. Not that I use all that many, preferring just mustard most of the time, but Donnies had a big selection of dogs; maybe the most from a truck. Chili, cheese, hot relish, reuben dogs, cheesteak dogs, you name it, it was there along with many that I can't recall. The tasty dog along with the variety of choices accounted for Donnies taking first place. The owner, as mentioned by other posters here previously, gives back to the community and is a genuinely good guy. Congratulations to him, especially after a rough beginning where he was only making $20.00 on some days and seriously considered quitting.

I had 2 dogs here. One with chili, which was liked by the team, but a little too hot (spicy) for my taste. And one with just mustard.

22) Otto's, Bloomfield Ave. Caldwell

Otto's is a small hot dog restaurant that has been open less than a year. Located right across the street from the popular Cloverleaf Tavern. The dog served is a 10 to a lb, natural casing all beef Sabrett. This is the perfect size for a Sabrett dirty water dog. Normally I would prefer 8 to a lb, which I consider ideal, but for some reason the casing isn't tight enough on the Sabrett 8's. I was expecting to like this dog because of the size and the fact that it had casing. But it wasn't to be because the dogs were actually served cold. Not hot. Not warm. Not lukewarm. Cold! And not just mine, but everyone's. It was mentioned to the staff, who gave us a new round of dogs. These were barely warmer. Too bad, because the temperature of the dogs ruined the experience. The rolls were also too big for the dog. I don't remember sampling the chili, but according to my notes it was spicy, tomatoey, and not good. Don't remember why it wasn't good.

23) Boulevard Drinks, Journal Square Jersey City.

A small walkup storefront with perhaps 6 or so stools at a counter. Large neon lights, similar to Papaya King or Gray's in New York. First opened in 1937. In fact, I believe that this place was the forerunner of Papaya King. Although most people think of Sabrett as a New York dog, it originated in Jersey City. The company was there for years before it was sold. It is now owned by Marathon Enterprises in East Rutherford, N.J. although the dogs are made at a Stahl- Mayer plant in the Bronx. Boulevard Drinks uses the natural casing Sabrett and prepares them on a griddle. Some years later Papaya King opened in New York serving the dogs the same way. Later on came Gray's Papaya, Chelsea Papaya, and a slew of others. All after Boulevard Drinks.

The dog served here came in 2nd place for a grilled dog. All on the team thought it was fantastic. I would put it third on my list for favorite dog sampled all summer behind Syd's and Jerry's. I believe if the team as a whole was asked to rate their top 3 overall, this dog would have come in 2nd to Syd's. Later in the summer we went to New York (which I will get into in more detail later) and had the Sabrett dog served the same way at Papaya King, Gray's Papaya, and Katz's. The S.W.A.T. team was unanimous in agreeing that the dog at Boulevard Drinks was better. It was served nice and hot, cooked sufficiently, and tasted fresher. This dog was smaller than 10 to a lb. But it was so good that I'll make an exception in this case. It was also cheaper than what most dirty water places charged for the smaller size Sabrett's. It was under $1.50 although I don't remember the exact price.

To many hot dog lovers in Jersey, Boulevard Drinks is the standard. If you happen to prefer the flavor and spicing in a Sabrett dog to a Best's, than I would say that this is the best place for you to get a hot dog. If you check this place out, be prepared to either park in the nearby garage or wait awhile to get a space. Parking is extremely difficult. But the dogs are so good that I make the trip here often.

24) Petridis, Bayonne

A small restaurant that started out as a pushcart and has been around a very long time. Well known in and around Bayonne and Jersey City. There were 2 young girls working here who knew little about the product being served and didn't seem to care. The dog served was an 11 to a lb natural casing Sabrett prepared dirty water style. Hot enough, but hardly any snap. The dogs we had were definitely in the water too long. This cut down on the snap and reduced the flavor in the dog. Castleberry chili was served here. All in all, the dogs were mediocre as was the service. I would avoid this place and drive to Boulevard Drinks. One of the members of the team was from Bayonne and grew up on these hot dogs. He was really looking forward to going to the hot dog place of his youth. Even he was disapointed. But he assured us that the dogs were better in the past.
signman
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs 2006/11/12 13:57:55
John, Thanks for posting these details.
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