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Rutt's Hut

417 River Rd., Clifton, NJ - (973) 779-8615
Posted By Michael Stern on September 25, 2007 11:04 PM
Fans of Rutt’s know the magnificent hot dogs served here as rippers because their skin tears and crinkles when they are deep fried. The oil bath turns the pork-and-beef links rugged, dark, and chewy on the outside, while the interior remains soft and juicy. Weenie wimps can ask for an “in and outer,” which gets plucked from the fat more quickly and remains thoroughly pink and plump; while those who crave maximum succulence can get one well-done, which is so porcine that it reminds us of fried pig skin.

The one stellar addition for a ripper is Rutt’s spicy-sweet relish, a dense yellow condiment made from onions, finely chopped carrots, and cabbage. Hamburgers and hot-from-the-kettle French fries are nice, too; and we are especially fond of Rutt’s chili: a chunky mid-Atlantic brew of clods of ground beef with an occasional bean among it, suspended in a vividly spicy tomato emulsion. With crumbled crackers on top, it’s a formidable meal.

Rutt’s serves hot-lunch meals as well as real drinks in an adjoining tap room with its own separate entrance. Here, amidst wood-panel décor, one can quaff many beers with platters of such blue-plate fare as chicken croquettes, stuffed cabbage, Jersey pork chops, and bean heavy chili by the cup or bowl. Prices are low, and the food we have tasted is mighty satisfying.

But if you are coming to Rutt’s only once, eat hot dogs at a counter. It’s a Roadfood experience to remember: Dine in a wide-open mess hall with high counters at the windows that provide a view of the parking lot. Stand and eat off paper plates, and for entertainment, enjoy the calls of the counter men as they sing out, “Twins, all the way,” meaning a pair of rippers with mustard and relish.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Ripper
Onion Rings
Cremator

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Posted By sally on June 13, 2013 1:47 PM
Place is filthy, food is horrible with a capital H, overcooked and burned. Nasty relish sitting on table with a wooden dixie cup spoon, yuck. Had the fish, dont do it. The hot dog was ok. THe place is too dirty for me, grime and dirt everywhere, scary dirty!!
1 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By JT Rich on May 14, 2013 7:02 PM
So I think I've got this figured out. For years, I've been hearing how amazing Rutt's Hut is. In fact, many of the glowing verbal reviews I've heard echo the written ones that can be found on this very site. After finally visiting Rutt's this week, I've come to this conclusion: the people who love Rutt's are the ones who've been going there for years. They grew up eating at Rutt's; it's a tradition, a reminder of childhood, a part of living the Jersey life. And they love it for the experience, not necessarily for the food. Because the food isn't good.

Look, I'm not from around here, so the Jersey thing may be lost on me, but I've been to plenty of eateries, and I couldn't find one thing special about Rutt's.

Hot dogs: standard.

Bun: the kind you get at the supermarket. The cheap kind.

The "famous" relish: not much flavor. At all.

French fries: average.

This, to put it simply, is food you get at the boardwalk in Atlantic City. As for the atmosphere, well, I knew it was a no-frills place. But Rutt's doesn't even offer trays -- at least, they didn't on the day I went -- so if you order more than one item, you're expected to balance them all as you walk to a table where you then stand and eat your food. Ridiculous.

Even worse, the relish and mustard are in bowls near the cash register, and you use a wooden spoon to scoop them out and dress your hot dogs. Disgusting. I can only imagine all the foreign substances that get into the condiments when people are in and out of those bowls all day. Really, it's 2013. Rutt's can't get a pump-like container for, at least, the mustard (and ketchup)?

Speaking of 2013, the place doesn't look like it's been updated since the day it opened. That's fine; I'm willing to overlook a rundown joint if the food is good and it's clean. But at Rutt's, neither is the case.

I'm glad so many people clearly find a sense of comfort at Rutt's. And if they want to fool themselves into believing it's a place of quality, that's fine (although perhaps they just don't know any better). But as far as helping to fool others with all these BS reviews, no. No, no, no. To the uninitiated, don't believe a word of it. And don't even bother with Rutt's. You really aren't missing a thing.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Ripper
Hot Dog
Rutt's Relish

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Posted By John Murray on February 11, 2013 11:16 AM
Nothing like a Rutt's ripper or three to hold you over.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
chili
Cremator
Onion Rings
Rutt's Relish

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Posted By Paul Helleren on January 19, 2013 9:45 AM
Being Jersey Paulie, this is on my top five places in the state to eat. Here is my standard order:
- 2 rippers (hot dogs that have ripped open from the hot oil)
- a bowl of all-meat chili, to eat and spoon over the hot dogs
- onion rings (delightfully greasy)
- red birch beer
Definitely eat at the stand-up counter. The dining room is nasty, with surly waitresses, and the rippers will deflate by the time you get them.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Ripper
chili
Onion Rings
Cremator

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Posted By Tom on January 19, 2013 9:04 AM
Now in my fifties, and haven't been out to Rutt's in years. Always loved this place. Was in the area and had to have a couple of their rippers! They did not disappoint. Have to make sure to start going more often. No one in Jersey compares.
5 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Rocco Patierno on January 13, 2013 10:15 PM
Like 95% of the patrons of Rutt's, I have been a regular since my high school days at Passaic HS. For me, that's nearly 50 years. I drive around a lot and whenever I'm within five miles of the place I get that "gotta have one" feeling, that craving for a ripper.

True, the place has as much charm as a hot dog vendor in NYC. True, the interior has a sort of "crustiness" about it. True, the place has never been updated, renovated, or in any way redecorated in all those years. True, the waitstaff both inside the restaurant and in the walk-in area (where I have always eaten) do not have the elegance of the staff at the Waldorf or the cutesiness of those who work at a Friday's (frankly, they don't have the time, or even give a s&*t).

But all that plus the wonderful-tasting, greasy, lowdown, cholesterol-laden, "don't tell my doctor I'm eating this" food is precisely the reason folks LOVE the place and remain so loyal. On a recent visit I asked a guy to take my picture so I could email it to my high school buddy living in Florida. He was there with his 12-year-old son, and HIS father. The old man said he's been coming here for over 55 years, and he was getting a ripper to go for his 88-year-old father to sneak into the nursing home. That's four generations. How's that for loyalty?

The dogs are just the best and the fries are great too. I even get breakfast here on occasion: scrambled eggs with Taylor ham and toast, delicious. Some tips: never eat in the dining room, always at the stand-up counter. You'll meet more interesting people and the servers are the real thing. Learn the lingo: ripper or dog or weller = hot dog; Frenchy = French fries; rings = onion rings; howdy = orange soda; Marvis = chocolate drink (Yoo-hoo); BB = barbeque beef sandwich; Bobo = BLT, and if you want extra mayo ask for heavy on the whip.

Food junkies welcome; gourmets stay away. See you there. Hail to the red and hail to the blue.
5 star rating
Overall Rating

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Posted By Charles J Kanefke on July 7, 2012 1:04 AM
It's absolutely unique, even for north Jersey hot dog joints. You've got to try it once!
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Onion Rings
hot dog with relish
Ripper
Hot Dog
Cremator

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Posted By Antony LaBozetta on July 6, 2012 3:13 PM
I can't see how anyone could complain about this place. Racist? Uhh no, you were probably just acting like an asshole. Dirty? Part of the charm. If you don't like it go find something more toward your hot dog liking, like a tube steak shop that has valet parking. Poor quality? I suppose you think Olive Garden is gourmet then?

It's simple, people, you are here for five things and five things ONLY! Repeat after me:

- beverage (beer, birch beer, or lemonade are my usuals)
- chicken soup
- hot dogs
- french fries
- onion rings

That's it... that's all... take it and move on. The chicken soup is packed with rice and meat and veggies, the dogs are (of course) why you're here, the french fries are crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, and the onion rings are 100% homemade fresh.

That's all you need to do and know. Welcome to Jersey.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Onion Rings
Ripper
Hot Dog
chili

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Posted By Jeff Kohlmann on April 16, 2012 3:14 PM
One word describes Rutt's Hut: DISGUSTING! Rude server, threw the paper plates on the counter at me, place was full of flies & cigarette smoke. Dogs were WAY over cooked. Oh, did I mention the server that obviously didn't want to be there and made sure everyone knew about it?
1 star rating
Overall Rating
Ripper

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Posted By bill on November 5, 2011 12:58 PM
The dogs are great, of course. They have a dining area with a full menu. I usually go to the walk-up stand.

I've requested that they add kraut and chili, and perhaps red onions as toppings. I suggested sauce like at Boulevard Drinks (chili and onions), in Journal Square, Jersey City. Don't think they'll add it, however. Their mustard relish is very sweet; dark mustard is more to my taste.

Hot dogs were $1.85 in 2009. Such a deal! Open late. A little tricky to find: off Route 3, off Route 21. You can see it from Route 3 in Clifton.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
Hot Dog
hot dog with relish
Ripper
chili
Cheese Dog

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Posted By ROBERT STRAUSS on October 29, 2011 11:06 AM
Planned a trip around this place. It was phenomenal! The rippers were sublime. Highly recommend a visit here.
3 star rating
Overall Rating
Ripper
Onion Rings

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Posted By paul de florio on September 11, 2011 12:33 AM
This has got to be the world's best hot dog purveyor. You mention the ripper but I remember a dog called a weller, where it is left in the oil a bit longer.

If you are ever in the area, make sure to stop in and prepare yourself for a taste of heaven!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Ripper

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Posted By marie frederickson on August 15, 2011 7:50 AM
I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand now and would, if I could, get on a plane and travel back just to enjoy a ripper once in awhile. They are GREAT!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
Ripper
Onion Rings

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Posted By Seth Bogdanove on May 16, 2011 8:45 AM
I haven't been anywhere near Rutt's Hut in over 25 years, but since I've been ordered to go on a diet, I had to go one more time. I'm glad I did. Some things change with time; Rutt's Hut didn't.

The rippers and cremators were as good, perhaps better, than I remembered. The same goes for that homemade relish. My wife, who is a very picky eater, had two rippers!

We schlepped all the way from south Brooklyn, and if it weren't for the diet, I'd go back tomorrow. Believe the hype, these dogs are as good as they get!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Cremator
Ripper
Hot Dog
Cheese Dog

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Posted By George Lohr on April 16, 2011 1:53 PM
I wanted to eat here after seeing it on a couple of TV shows. The experience was, in a word, horrible. Horrible service: the waitress made us put our own tables together (for a party of five). Then, it was as if we were invisible. We waited 15 minutes before the waitress even brought us table settings, then another 10 minutes before she came to take our order.

We explained that it was our first time and she talked us into ordering the platter (two hot dogs, slaw, and potato salad). Horrible hot dogs. They tasted like the kind of boiled hot dogs I would make for my grandson, not "fried" or crispy or anything. After the "meal," when I asked her about the dogs she said they were "rippers." More like "ripped off" I'd say. Nothing at all special about them.

After that we became invisible again. Even after waving my arms to get her attention while she was clearing the adjacent table, she actually turned the other way as if she didn't see me. Eventually we got our check, paid, and left, leaving no tip. This place sucks! The only redeeming quality is that the potato salad is pretty good. I've checked it off my list and won't be back, and will tell anyone else who'll listen to not waste their time.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Ripper
Hot Dog

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Posted By Bif Pocaroba on December 22, 2010 2:17 PM
Does a better hot dog exist? I think not.

The old school atmosphere in Rutts is part of what makes it such a special place to visit. I have frequented Rutts for over 40 years and the quality of the hot dog, fries and home made onion rings are always consistently good. Although I never put relish on a hot dog elsewhere, at Rutts there is just something about theirs that is special and you have to try it. Don't be put off by the appearance and whether your munching in the dated dining room, at the counter or dodging seagulls in the parking lot Rutts is an enjoyable experience. I encourage you to have an ice cold mug of beer or birch beer.
0 star rating
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Posted By Bif Pocaroba on November 12, 2010 2:18 PM
A ripper with relish and FF with gravy a cold mug of beer and it doesn't get any better. People are territorial with their hot dogs and visitors from out of the area just will not understand what its like to enter this legendary hot dog establishment. I've enjoyed rippers with their relish for over 40 years now and they never disappoint. Regardless if you eat at the counter, sit in the restaurant or eat in the parking lot while dodging the seagulls it is always delicious experience.
0 star rating
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Posted By beirne konarski on November 9, 2010 8:11 PM
Ever since a customer brought me here I've made sure I come to Rutt's Hutt when I'm in the area. The hot dogs have a great taste I haven't had anywhere else. It's hard to describe, maybe just a bit browned but not the way a grilled hot dog would be. It's an informal place, where you stand to eat at a counter unless you go to the attached sit-down restaurant, but I've always gone to the standup side for a couple of rippers.
2 star rating
Overall Rating
Ripper
Hot Dog
Cheese Dog
Onion Rings

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Posted By Joe Mathias on November 9, 2010 11:48 AM
Rutt's Hut is open also for dinner (same menu as for lunch) and it is also open later (hours of operation are longer on Friday & Saturday nights than the other 5 days of the week. As you approach Rutt's Hut on Route 3 or Route 21 (or are on the exit from Route 21 North onto either Route 3 East or West)you can see the Rutt's Hut sign if it is on & means Rutt's hut is open.

If traveling Route 21 South, get off Route 21 South at the exit marked for Clifton and Rutherford but stay on the service road that parallels Route 21 South (which is actually River Road) to get to Rutt's Hut.

If traveling Route 21 North, stay on Route 21 North as it passes under Route 3 but get off at the next exit (for River Road). At the stop sign at the top of the exit incline, turn left & go over Route 21 and turn left at the end of that road onto River Drive.

The Fried Onion Rings at Rutt's Hut are great and the best onion rings in Clifton are from either Rutt's Hut or The Hearth (not downgrading Rutt's onion rings, just telling the truth).

Someone opened a hot dog place in Lyndhurst (not that far away) & copies deep-frying their hot dog stand that owner started a rumor that Rutt's Hut had been sold & would be torn down & condos or townhouses would be built in its place. That place folded because ithad no parking lot, little street parking at the curb and people did not like their rumor about Rutt's Hut.

The sit-down place at Rutt's Hut allowed ladies to have their sit-down meal & not stand and it also allows anyone to sit at the bar & also eat at the bar. When I was a kid, most women who did not like the stand-up counter at Rutt's Hut ate in their boyfriend's or husband's car, a long-time tradition at Rutt's, even if car or motorcycle guys have their weekly get-together in the parking lot of Rutt's!

In the old days (before Route 21 was finished from Newark to Route 3), you could walk down the hill from Rutt's Hut to the Passaic River and there was a pony ride place by the river for your kids. That all disappeared before Abe Rutt sold his place to the current family that owns the place and the only change they have made is it is no longer open 24/7 and they change the oil in the deep fat frier than Abe used to do!
0 star rating
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Posted By Brian Sniatkowski on August 17, 2010 5:17 PM
Rutt's Hut makes the finest hot dog in NJ. The nicotine-stained, never-left-the-50's seediness is part of the charm of this place.

Some of the negative reviews complain about the quality of the dog, which in fact is a high quality Thumann's dog made specially for the restaurant industry, and is identical to those served at a number of popular hot dog places in NJ. The difference at Rutt's is that they are deep-fried in beef tallow.

Sure, if you start venturing around the menu you're going to find a lot of clunkers. Roast duckling and leg of lamb? You'd have to be insane to order those here. I once saw a diner eating a ham steak that was served with some sort of pineapple jelly smeared on it. Yuk! Burgers? If you want a good burger what the heck are you doing in a hot dog place? That's like going to a seafood place and complaining about the ribeye steak.

You come to Rutt's for one reason: the hot dogs, and that is what they do "weller" than anybody "elser." Order a pair of rippers and smear them with mustard and the amazing relish (which I have not been able find the equal of anywhere. Heck I don't even like relish.) and you are in hot dog heaven. A mug of draft beer and frenchies with gravy make it even better.

Though most people seem to order the rippers, the dogs are also served as "In and Outers" (just barely cooked), "Wellers" (well-done) and "Cremators" (cooked until charred).

I've been to Pinks, Gray's Papaya, the original Nathan's, Hot Dog Johnny's, Hot Grill, Jimmy Buff's, Callihan's, Johnny and Hanges, Galloping Hill, Dickie Dee's... and all are very good at what they do, but none reach the sublime heights of a Rutt's Ripper.
4 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
chili
Ripper
Hot Dog
Onion Rings
Cremator

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Posted By Warren Corson on May 1, 2010 10:20 PM
Made my yearly pilgrimage to Rutt's this past weekend from Virginia. My father, a north Jersey native, introduced me to Rutt's as a little kid and I've been going back ever since.

After reading some of the recent poor reviews of Rutt's, I was very happy to see that everything was as it should be: crunchy, delicious, custom-made deep-fried dogs, flat Miller on draft, and those incomparable waitresses, a combination of just the right amount of surliness and north Jersey charm. I felt like I was back in the womb!

Rutt's is not Disneyland and it's not Applebee's (thank God!). They don't care if you drove down the street or 300 miles for their dogs. They are a temple of hot dog-dom and a complete Jersey experience. So, if you're going to go there, soak it all in and enjoy the whole experience. I brought two friends who had never been before and, after giving them a short briefing about what to expect, they loved it all. So go, relax and enjoy. It's as good as ever!
5 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Cremator
Ripper
chili
Onion Rings

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Posted By Robert Jones on February 23, 2010 3:11 PM
I have been going to Rutt's for 65 years. Back at the beginning it was a passion pit and if a father found out you took his daughter there, he might likely take out the white shotgun. My mom sent me with my sister and her boyfriend and, being ten, I had no idea why they kept sending me inside to wait and buy food. THEN they put up the Klieg lights and it became respectable.

Their hot dogs are unique and their relish is out of this world. They do serve other good food in the back dining room, but I go for the hot dogs and birch beer whenever I am in town.

Wish they would open a Rutt's Hut South here in Orlando.
5 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Onion Rings

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Posted By Reggie Beard on July 30, 2009 4:32 PM
I was very excited to dine at the Rutt's Hut famous deep-fried hot dog restaurant. I had read some outstanding reviews on MSN and I saw on the Travel Network that they are one of America's best deep-fried restaurants. On a recent Sunday in July I took my friend to dine at the famous Rutt's Hut. We walked into the dining area and sat at one of the tables. This is where the nightmare begins.

We sat there for at least five minutes waiting for a waitress to acknowledge our existence let alone hand us a couple of menus. There was just one other occupied table in the dining area. When she was finished with that table she just walked away as if we were not even there. I was very annoyed; however, my friend told me to just be patient, and that they would recognize our table. After another four or five minutes passed the bartender brought us a couple of menus and told us that we would be waited on momentarily. More time went by and no waitress.

Meanwhile, a family had just sat across from us, and there was a table in between us that needed to be cleaned off. Now there was only one other table (behind us) that had patrons and the waitress spent all of her time with that table, not even looking our way, as if we were invisible. We continued to wait, much to my dismay.

The waitress then walked over to the family that just sat down and asked if they wanted their table wiped off. She wiped the table off and then proceeded to clean the table that was in between the both of us and then just walked away. We waited a couple of more minutes, to just be acknowledged. That did not happen, so we finally had enough and we just left the restaurant.

If I did not know I would have thought we were in the 50s or 60s in the Deep South. Needless to say it was the most horrible experience I have ever encountered. I will avoid this place like the plague. I will tell anyone who will listen about this experience. It's disgraceful in this day and age, when there is much diversity in this country, that this level of ignorance is still displayed. Oh, in case you did not figure it out, we are African-American. I've said enough.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
chili
Cremator
Onion Rings
Ripper

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Posted By Larry Alessandrini on June 12, 2009 11:44 PM
DO NOT GO HERE! Please trust me on this. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY OTHER REVIEWS. You will read countless reviews online that say how great the place is. Absolutely not true. I am telling you, if you go here, you will regret it. This place is THE most disgusting place I have ever been to. I love greasy spoons and roadside shacks that make great greasy food, but this place is the worst place I have ever dined in my life.

I went with a friend who also loves to eat delicious garbage food. We usually go to the Hot Grill down the road, where the hotdogs are delicious. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. We decided to eat at the bar inside rather than at the stand-up walk-in section downstairs. First mistake. We wanted to try their famous Rippers. The food came up in literally one minute, the first suspicious sign. THE DOGS ARE DISGUSTING. Not because they are deep-fried, but because they are so greasy it makes my stomach turn, and they are the worst quality hot dogs I have ever tasted.

Second mistake we made: putting their "famous" relish on the dogs. It didn't taste bad, but by no means was it great. But the mistake was putting it in my stomach all together. It sits around warm in a glass jar on the bar and has a wooden serving spoon in it, the kind you get with kids' Dixie ice cream cups. The onion rings are gross, sopping in oil. The French fries are fine, your standard-fare diner fries.

Trust me, DO NOT waste your time or money, or subject your stomach to the horror of eating here.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Onion Rings

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Posted By Stephanie Volpe on April 21, 2009 11:57 AM
This place is HORRIBLE! What a waste of a trip. The hot dog meat quality is absolutely disgusting. They cannot possibly be all-beef dogs.

Hot dogs are my favorite food. I have been to the best-of-the-best and, when it comes to visiting places, I always search out the famous hot dog restaurants. I have been to Nathan's in Coney Island countless times, Pink's in Hollywood, The Varsity in Atlanta, Gray's Papaya and Papaya King in Manhattan, Weinerschnitzel in Vegas; I've had hot dogs on the Vegas Strip, in Atlantic City, and at a lot of local places around Long Island, where I live. I've also had the less well-known hot dogs throughout the US.

As a huge fan of the almighty hot dog I was very excited to visit Rutt's Hutt. From the reviews I have read, and the show on the Food Network, I was so excited to try them. We actually planned a day around going to Rutt's since I live about two hours away. This was my first experience with a deep-fried dog as well.

The sad part is that the preparation, in regard to being fried, is not bad; it is the hot dog quality that is the problem. It tastes like a no-name-brand cheap-mystery-meat hot dog (the kind you get for $.99 at the grocery store). It's served on a cheap, no-frills bun that isn't toasted or anything to even try to jazz it up.

I ordered one plain and one with cheese. The cheese is the standard canned kind like you would squeeze out of a pump. Normally not a problem on an awesome dog, but I cannot express enough how cruddy the meat quality is. Yeah, the place is cheap, but for a place like this to be famous for their hot dogs is SHOCKING to me. They are gross, not even comparable to any NYC dog, or a Cali dog! SHOCKING is an understatement.

The famed relish is really nothing special either. It is OK but not spectacular like the reviews try to make you believe. I also ordered the French fries and a side of gravy. The fries are standard diner fries that you can get everywhere. Their problem is that they are cooked in too-cold oil, making them soggy.

So a HUGE dissappointment all around, to say the least. I am uploading pictures, too; basic, but you will see the dog and the fries.
1 star rating
Overall Rating
hot dog with relish
Cremator

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