Ok, Let's plan on Saturday 9/4 for the New Jersey leg of the hot dog tour. I propose 5 places which I feel represent the best in Jersey hot dogs. This will be very easy travel wise, as 2 of the places are a mile apart, and a third is 3 or 4 miles away. The other 2 are about 17 miles away, but only a couple of miles from each other. We can all park at the first place, which will be the easiest to get to. Then we can carpool to the other 2. At this point, those that want to leave can because we will be coming back to where our cars will be parked. A short ride to the other 2 (20 minutes maybe) then we will head back to where we are parked. At this point, if anyone wants to continue, there are at least 5 places within 5 miles of where we are parked, including 2 (Tommy's Italian Hot Dogs and Jerry's) that are literally next to each other.
What I suggest would be meeting first at the Galloping Hill Inn in Union. They share a parking lot with a banquet hall, so there will be ample parking for all who wish to attend. The Galloping Hill Inn serves a beef and pork dog in the German style. Cooked on a griddle and placed in a unique, harder football shaped bun. The dog is made by Grote & Weigle under a private label arrangement. The Galloping Hill Inn is the only hot dog restaurant that uses this particular dog. It is better, in my opinion, than the other dogs produced by G&W for the variuos Texas Weiner joints in Jersey. Just a great dog, in my top 2 or 3.
The easiest way of getting to the Galloping Hill Inn is to take the Garden State Parkway to exit 138. It doesn't matter if you are travelling north or south, get off the exit and bear right. This puts you on Galloping Hill Rd. The Galloping Hill Inn is between 1/4 and 1/2 mile away on the left hand side. Go past the Galloping Hill Inn, and make a left on Salem Rd. then a quick left into the parking lot. This will be the first stop. From here, we can carpool and follow each other. I have a mini van and can take some people. Let's get some feedback as to what time to meet.
From here we can either go to Syd's, which is about 4 miles away, or Charlies Famous Italian Hot Dogs which is a mile away off Galloping Hill Rd, going back towards the Parkway. I think we would be better off going to Syd's, then coming back to Charlies, which is about 1/4 mile away from the Parkway, which we will be using to go to the other 2. Charlies is also about a mile or so from our cars, so anyone who wants to leave after the third stop can.
So, if we go to Syd's, that would take around 10 minutes. Syd's serves a 5 to a lb natural casing all beef dog from Best's. It is simmerred in water and then charbroiled. This is my favorite all beef dog; better in my opinion than any I've had including Katz's, Papaya King, and Nathan's. Picked as the best hot dog in Jersey by the Munchmobile crew the first year they reviewed hot dogs. Incidentally, the Galloping Hill Inn was picked as the best in the state by New Jersey Monthly. If I was limited to 2 dogs, these are the 2 I would pick. They are the best examples of a great grilled kosher style dog and a great tasting grilled (griddled) German style frank.
Charlies Famous Italian Hot Dogs are my pick for best Italian Hot Dog in Jersey. An Italian Hot Dog is a deep fried beef dog (or two for a double) placed in a half moon of pita like Italian 'pizza bread" and topped with deep fried onions, peppers, and potatoes. Charlies gives you a bigger and better sandwich. The peppers are much better than any other place, and only Tommy's in Elizabeth has potatoes that are as good. This sandwich had it's origin in Newark, N.J. in the 1920's and is found only in a few northern Jersey counties. There is one place that moved to Toms River called Jo-Jo's.
The next stop would be the Hot Grill in Clifton. Perhaps 20 minutes up the Parkway. The Hot Grill serves the best Texas Weiner in Jersey. Here you might get an argument from people who like Libby's or the Goffle Grill. Or Texas Weiner ll. But I think the Hot Grill's chili sets it apart from the other places. They use a beef and pork dog made by Sabrett and deep fry it in 2 stages. You can also buy their chili to go. The Hot Grill may sell more hot dogs than any other place in Jersey.
About 5 minutes away is Rutt's Hutt. This place may just be the most well known hot dog joint in Jersey. And to many the best. They deep fry a Thumann's dog that is made especially for deep frying. It contains semolina and soy protein concentrate which aid in frying and enable the dog to withstand the high temperatures of the cooking oil. Other places use this dog, but Rutt's cooks theirs to different degrees of doneness, and they are already in the oil when you walk in. Service is super fast. These dogs are unique in taste. Just different than any other hot dog. Their relish is legendary and shipped all over the country.
Fortunately, these hot dog restaurants are fairly close to each other. They are my top 5 hot dog restaurants, and each represents a different style.
At this point we will return to the Galloping Hill Inn. For those who want to continue, we could drive 3 miles into Elizabeth and sample the dogs from Tommy's Italian Hot Dogs and Jerry's Famous Frankfurters. Tommy's is in the same league as Charlies when it comes to Italian Hot Dogs. A lot of people prefer Tommy's. They have great potatoes which they also sell in cups. There is Charlies and Tommy's, then everyone else when it comes to Italian Hot Dogs. Next to Tommy's (actually separated by one store) is Jerry's. Both of these places are walk up hot dog stands with no seating. Jerry's is a quality beef dog cooked a unique way. Boiled, then thrown on a griddle for a minute or two to add crunchiness and flavor. The dogs are hot and tasty. Best brand like Syd's (and Charlies) but smaller than Syd's. My wife's favorite hot dog.
Also nearby are Father and Son which serves the same dog as Jerry's, but they cook it slowly on a griddle over low heat. They have a very spicy chili also. The Windmill has a location in Westfield, which is close to Union. They serve a quarter pound beef and pork dog (Sabrett) that is very good. Same style as the Galloping Hill Inn.
I think the top five dogs are must hit places. I will be up for taking anyone to the others mentioned. What do you all think would be a good time to meet? The Galloping Hill Inn opens at 11:00, but that might be too early. Let's get some feedback on the time. I think we could do the top 5 fairly quickly. Rutt's, Hot Grill, and Galloping Hill Inn serve dogs as soon as you order them. Charlies can have them ready if we call and order ahead if anyone wants to do that. Same for Syd's. Syd's is a smaller luncheonette. We may have to eat outside. Looking forward to eating some dogs and getting opinions from those of you who have never been to these places.