Published on September 12th, 2014 | by gatsbyadmin0
L.A. Is Going to the Dogs
Food; its one of our basic needs but one that we as a society take great pleasure in (especially if our obesity rate is anything to go by). Everything and anything seems to be on the table – so to speak – from the unbelievable fried creations at county fairs to juice cleanses, ethnic foods from around the world to good old American cuisine. Although our choices are seemingly endless, like everything else, foods sometimes become a trend that you can’t escape no matter where you go. Most people are already aware that L.A. is full of wieners, but right now it looks like we’re experiencing a different type of sausage-fest; it is now the moment of the hot dog.
I don’t know that the hot dog has ever really experienced an actual slump in popularity. Although it’s history isn’t universal fact, a few things appear to be agreed upon. Originating in Frankfurt, Germany, it became popularized in the U.S. around the 1870s as a working class street food, began its baseball association 1893 when it was sold at the St. Louis Brown Stockings’ games and has been enjoyed by generations ever since. Most of the time I try to be pretty conscious of what I’m consuming and do my best to eat healthily, but there are some things that I’m just happy to plead ignorance to and the hot dog is one of them. I don’t want to know exactly what is in them or how they’re made because it might ruin it all for me; if done right, they can be delicious and that’s all I really care to know. In honor of the ever-popular wiener, here are five of the hot dog spots I recommend a visit to while you’re in the Los Angeles area.
Established in 1939 on La Brea and Melrose, Pink’s Hot Dogs started as a cart run by Paul and Betty Pink and has since become a Hollywood landmark and expanded to include other locations. Both the menu and hot dogs are pretty big and they boast some fairly unique toppings (I recommend “The Today Show Dog”; 2 hot dogs, one bun, mustard, onions, chili, cheese and guacamole. Don’t judge me). Many of their menu items are named after Los Angeles hot spots and the celebrities who order them, including “The Martha Stewart Dog” and “The Ozzy Spicy Dog.” I think its pretty likely that the celebrity clientele has added to it’s allure as Pink’s seems to be a favorite tourist spot regardless of whether you like hot dogs or not (although they definitely have other items on their menu). Be prepared to stand in line for a while when visiting this spot as I’ve never seen it without a fairly large crowd, particularly after concerts and shows.
Compared to some of the other places on this list, Slaw Dogs is a newcomer but has already been featured on The Travel Channel as well as in The Huffington Post and L.A. Times. With locations in Pasadena, Duarte and my native Woodland Hills, I recently decided to hit this one in the San Fernando Valley on Ventura Boulevard. Although not my absolute favorite on this list, their Street Dog was pretty good (please add mustard to the toppings that come on your street dog, guys) and I definitely look forward to trying out some of the other things on their menu. (I’m pretty sure I’ll be ordering “The Green Monster” – 1/4 lb. Vienna beef, roasted pasilla, chipotle mayo, grilled onion, pepper jack cheese, garlic salsa verde – the next time I dine there). This place is worth a visit next time you’re in the area; that is, if you can bring yourself to trek out to the valley, Pasadena or Duarte.
Another fairly new place on this list is Dog Haus. There are currently several locations to choose from in California and from what their website says, there are many more to come. (There are 16 locations that are listed as “now open”/ “coming soon”/ “on the radar”). I tried this place for the first time about a month ago and I’m already kind of hooked. If you’re like me and you enjoy unique combinations, this is the hot dog place for you. So far my favorites are “The Cowboy” (a skinless beef hot dog with smoked bacon, white American cheese, crispy onions and BBQ sauce) and “The Scott Baioli” (also a skinless beef dog with smoked bacon, white American cheese, garlic aioli and caramelized onions – I’m seeing a trend in the toppings I prefer). As a bread lover, the “buns” that the dogs are served on here are one of my favorite parts of the meal. Although I haven’t seen it specified anywhere on the menu/website, they appear to be a childhood favorite of mine, King’s Hawaiian Rolls (!), which is a fucking fabulous combination in my opinion.
Founded in 2007 by brothers Roland and Peter, Brats Brothers serves the best gourmet bratwurst I’ve ever had. My significant other moved to Sherman Oaks a few years ago and we stumbled across Brats Brothers while exploring the neighborhood. At the time, it was just a sort of dingy hole in the wall spot that could be easily missed – the type of place that you fear for your health in but invariably know that whatever you order is going to be delicious. Luckily (or unluckily in some cases), I’m pretty damn adventurous when it comes to food, so we decided to try it immediately. Aside from the shoddy establishment (which has since moved down Ventura Boulevard to a much nicer location), their menu was intriguing to someone like me who habitually eats things others won’t touch (gizzard, liver, tripas; I eat it all). So I skipped right past the more conventional items and went straight on to order from their “exotic” offerings which included kangaroo, elk and ostrich (since removed from the menu) among others. Needless to say, the alligator brat I had that day was amazing and we’ve been back many times. Even if bratwurst isn’t your thing, I definitely recommend trying this place at least once as they have plenty of other delicious items on their menu as well as 15 German beers on tap, an out of this world dessert called “Kaiserschmarnn”, eating contests and on some nights even live entertainment.
Of all the places on this list, Oki Dog has to be my favorite. Like Pink’s, this place definitely has history although it is significantly less glamorous. Oki Dog was established sometime in the 70’s (the actual date is unclear) by Sakai “Jimmy” Sueyoshi on Santa Monica (the original location). Due to its location and late hours, it quickly became a place to meet and gather post-clubbing. Although some of those gathered there included the unsavory – prostitutes, drug addicts and homeless people – during the late 70’s and early 80’s it was the place to be if you were into the punk movement. Some of the top SoCal punk bands claimed Oki Dog as both their hang out as well as a place to make contacts including The Germs, Suicidal Tendencies, The Circle Jerks and Bad Religion. Although the location has since changed, (its now on Fairfax) the ambience remains the same: tiny, dirty and run down with random drawings and poems decorating the inner walls along with misspelled hand-written menus. If the old Brats Brothers place was bad, Oki Dog was in a class by itself – but oh, how my fat little heart leaps when I see that filthy orange shack! There are other things on the menu, but if you ever get the chance, do yourself a favor and just order the Oki Dog; two hot dogs with pastrami, chili, cheese and mustard all wrapped in a massive tortilla. Your arteries and waist-line may not thank me later but your taste buds definitely will.
Written By: Danielle Erin