Eighth outing, 7/9
34) Stewart's, Lebanon
This particular Stewart's has a reputation of being one of the nicest, if not the nicest looking Stewart's in the state. It's located along a pretty section of rt 22 in the western part of the state. A lot of plants and shrubbery, and a mini picnic grove with benches make this a good place to enjoy a dog outside.
In the past, almost all Stewart's used a Haydu brand beef and pork dog. Some still do, but each individual Stewart's now decides what dog they will serve. The Rahway location uses a Thumann's griller that they deep fry. They used to grill it. Two other locations that we visited later on used the Haydu and deep fried it. This location in Lebanon uses a skinless Dietz and Watson all beef dog that they prepare on a roller grill. There is a foot long dog and a smaller size.
I've been here several times in the past, and found the dog to be just ok. The Dietz and Watson beef dog is the same dog that is called Black Bear in Shop Rites. But that dog has a natural casing, while these were skinless. The dog itself is of decent quality, with a good, but milder flavor than a Best, Sabrett, or Nathan's. This dog would have fared better if it had a natural casing and was prepared on a griddle or grill, rather than a roller grill. But it's still an ok dog usually. Today, it was unusually dry and tough. The chili is homemade and had a fresh, tomatoey flavor. I think the dogs we had might have been old. They're usually better.
35) Bridge Street Dog Pound, Bridge Street, Milford.
Located a block or so from a bridge leading into Pa., the Dog Pound is a relatively new place. It opened sometime earlier in the year. Or late in 05. Owned by 2 twenty something guys, one of whom kept bragging about the place on the Munchmobile forum, continually stating that his dogs were best in the state. I just wanted to see what this guy looked like, but he wasn't there on this day. His partner, a somewhat quiet and accomodating guy, was.
It's a very small place that was uncomfortably hot inside. Everyone ate outside, even though there is no outside seating. One of the girls working there was kind enough to bring out some chairs. The dog served was a 10 to a lb Berks skinless dog that was deep fried. Same exact dog and preparation as Toby's Cup, which, coincidentally, would be our next stop. The Dog Pound had a variety of topping choices. The River Rat, which had fried peppers, barbecue sauce, onions, and mustard, proved popular with the team. The chili was peppery and very finely ground; sort of like a puree. Not sure if I liked it or not. I ordered the basic dog, which I believe is called the Milford. It has yellow mustard, onions, and a pickle slice. I omitted the onions.
I liked the dog. Very similar to Toby's Cup. Out in West Jersey, they prefer milder dogs. And skinless. They come either steamed, deep fried, or on a roller grill. The brand is usually Kunzler, Hatfield, or Berks. Out of these, I like the Berks dog the best. And it's better deep fried. The major thing that I didn't like about the Dog Pound was that it took forever to be served. All told, we only ordered about 8 dogs. There was no line either. It took over 25 minutes for me to get one lousy dog. And it was unbearably hot inside. From what I remember, it wasn't a particularly hot day. If I want this type of dog; I'll stick to Toby's Cup.
36) Toby's Cup, Rt 22, Lopatcong
Toby's is a little shack located right on busy rt 22, right at the Lopatcong/Philipsburg border. There is a clown face on the outside of the building, with a battered flouorescent light inside, and a very low ceiling. Voted best hot dog hole-in-the-wall. Toby's deep fries a 10 to a lb skinless Berk's beef and pork dog. It comes West Jersey/ Pennsylvania style with yellow mustard, pickle slices, and onions. Fast service, in contrast to the Dog Pound. Toby's has been around since the 1940's and is very popular in the area. In my opinion, they serve the best dog in Western Jersey. I like to call it the White Castle of hot dogs. Small, delicious, and your car smells like it for days.
37) Jimmy's on the Delaware, Philipsburg
Jimmy's replaced Jim's Doggie Stand, which was in Philipsburg for over 30 years before moving to nearby Easton, Pa. Three dogs were offered here. A regular Berks beef and pork (10 to a lb, skinless) that was prepared on a roller grill. Average, not nearly as good as Toby's. A Hatfield angus beef dog that was deep fried. Eight to a lb with natural casing, this, in my opinion was the best of the bunch, although this particular dog is better grilled or dirty water style. Hatfield makes a very good beef dog, but a poor beef/pork dog. They also make a beef/pork/turkey dog that you can find in the supermarket. I wouldn't bother. The other dog available here is a 5 to a lb Berks beef and pork dog with a cheese and jalapeno interior. About a year ago the company sent me some of these dogs to sample. A very different, unique tasting dog. Good, but a little too spicy for me. I would definitely have one once in a while. The rest of the team liked this dog so much that it was voted best novelty dog. I can't remember how it was prepared.
38) Hot Dog Johnny's, Rt 46, Buttzville
This place is second to Rutt's Hut in terms of famous hot dog joints. From what I'm told, The Hot Grill, Galloping Hill Inn, and Max's, in this order, sell the most hot dogs. All are popular. But Rutt's and Hot Dog Johnny's are the most well known hot dog establishments in Jersey. Practically everyone in the state has been to or heard of these 2. A big part of the popularity of Hot Dog Johnny's is the beautiful location. It's in a picturesque setting with picnic tables overlooking the Pequest River. A great atmosphere at this old time roadside stand. In my opinion, the most overrated dog anywhere. It's not awful, just mediocre. I don't care how popular it is. McDonald's is popular, but there are much better burgers out there. As, I said, one reason for it's popularity is the atmosphere and location. Another is that generations of people grew up eating here and there is a lot of nostalgia associated with this place. Finally, people in this part of the state are used to milder dogs, bordering on blandness. Bland is the word that was most used by the panel in describing the dogs at Hot Dog Johnny's.
The dog itself is a small, skinless Schmalz brand dog that is deep fried in peanut oil and served with mustard, ketchup, onions, relish, and a pickle spear. I had mine with mustard and pickle. I've been to Johnny's several times. The first time I thought it was awful. I think that in part was because my expectations were too high. I had been back a few times and thought the dogs were better than I remember the first time, but still mediocre. Today, they were clearly not as good as Toby's, the Dog Pound, or Jimmy's, which are all on the mild side. But that's my opinion, and so many people swear by Hot Dog Johnny's. It is far and away not only the most popular hot dog joint out in West Jersey, but the most popular eatery of any kind. The Star Ledger did an article stating this fact about a year ago. I was quoted as a dissenter regarding the dogs at Johnny's.
On the plus side, service is fairly quick considering that there are usually long lines. And the dogs are under a buck. Toby's dogs are also under a buck. No one on the S.W.A.T. Team liked the dogs at Hot Dog Johnny's.
39) Davey's Dogs, Howard Blvd, Mt. Arlington.
Davey's looks like a Swiss Chalet with its A-Frame structure. A nice little place with a walk up window, or indoor seating. There are a few tables inside, which has a sort of homey log cabin feel to it. The dogs are 12 to a lb natural casing all beef Sabrett's. By now you know that I'm not crazy about the small size. Especially here when the dog is put on a bun that is too big. If you order a dog, but don't specify how you want it, you'll get it boiled. Other options are grilled and deep fried. But you have to ask. The chili is the packaged Castleberry brand, which I like, even if it's not homemade. It has a nice mild tomatoey flavor. Other than the dogs being too small and put on a too big roll, they are prepared well and taste fine. I've been here a few times and have had the chance to have them all 3 ways. A good stop in Morris County, which doesn't have too many hot dog establishments.
40) Dover Grill, Rt 46, Dover
This was the first time that I've been to the Dover Grill. Going by the name, I expected a North Jersey "Hot" Texas Weiner joint. A lot of these places have the term "Grill" in there, even though they deep fry the dogs. Not so here. They serve a natural casing 10 to a lb all beef Sabrett dog, which is prepared on a griddle. Excellent dog, done right. In fact one of the best grilled dogs of the summer. For an all beef grilled dog, I would put it behind Syd's and Boulevard Drinks. Easily as good or better than the New York places that serve this same dog. Namely Papaya King and Gray's Papaya.
They offer 2 types of chili here. One is called Texas Weiner chili. I don't remember the taste, but I do remember that I, as well as everyone else didn't like it. The other chili, just referred to as regular chili, not Texas Weiner, was better. I remember it as being tomatoey and very spicy. Pete called it tomatoey and slightly spicy. Admittedly, I have a low tolerance for spice. This chili was liked by the team and finished #3 in the chili dog category. It was Pete Genovese's favorite chili of the entire summer. The dog here was easily one of the best of the summer, and in my opinion, the best of the day.