Originally posted by wbjake
Thanks for a different take on things. The info that I got was from one of the long time ladies working the hotdog station. Didn't see any of them when I was at the new place, just kids working the front. Hope that they landed well. The new place is tiny, but the chili dogs are still great.
After reading the above, I feel more like cutting the new owners (off Wood Ave.) some slack. BUT: How is the food? And by food, I mean Chili Dogs! Could go to both, as F&S has limited hours.
By the way, I believe that an earlier post favorably mentioned Charlies (Kenilworth) for their Italian hotdogs. Worked down the street from them one summer between semesters. Ate and waited for the heartburn to begin - didn't and went back for more. Are they still good? This past week a meter installer mentioned that the son took over and deep fries the dogs, along with other changes for the worse. Used to be a slanted griddle with grease down one end and the dogs, peppers and potatoes would be slid into the fat to cook for you. Opinions?
Manny's serves a grilled Texas Weiner with thick chili compared to the Passaic County places like Hot Grill and Libby's. It's similar to what many people in other states in the East call a Coney. Good beef and pork dog (Grote & Weigel) and the chili is less spicy than Father & Son. It's definitely worth going to.
Regarding Charlies in Kenilworth, I think there is some confusion. Originally, Charlies was a Jimmy Buff's. And they used the slanted pan like all Jimmy Buff's locations did/do. Then in 1962 the location was sold to a man named Charlie. Charlie sold it to someone else. This man ran the store and then turned it over to his son. But this was in the late 80's or early 90's. I began going to Charlies in the late 90's when the son ran it. Everything was prepared in deep fryers. An excellent sandwich. In fact, at the time it was my favorite Italian Hot Dog. My daughter worked there throughout high school and into college.
About 2 years ago, the owner lost interest in the business. He became a real estate agent and began devoting less time to the restaurant. As a result, quality suffered. There was always a good staff working there. When the young people left to go to school or get other jobs, they were replaced with apathetic young people. Now service was bad as well. I stopped going. I did go with the Munchmobile Team last summer. We had to go twice because they closed before the time posted at the store and on their menus. Charlies did not get good reviews. The bread wasn't good, nor were the potatoes. I found out that unused bread was sometimes frozen.
A couple of weeks ago I learned that Charlies was sold. So after not going for more than a year, I returned. I've gone there twice since the change in ownership. The first time the dog was good; similar to what it was in the past. Last week I went again and it wasn't so good. The bread was stale and tasteless. The potatoes were cut thicker than before (not a big deal) but also lacked the flavor they had when this place served a good product. The dogs and peppers are very good, but the sandwich as a whole was not. At least not on my last visit. As I've said in the past, when the owner stopped caring, the product was inconsistent. It appears to be the same way now, even with new ownership. I'll give it one more try. If you want a consistently good Italian Hot Dog, Tommy's in Elizabeth is fairly close to Charlies. They have actually improved the last 2 years, increasing the size of their dogs and adding more peppers. Jimmy Buff's is excellent as well if you don't mind travelling a little. Out of their 4 locations (Irvington, Scotch Plains, East Windsor, and West Orange) I like East Hanover and West Orange. Joes Pizzeria in UNion also makes a good Italian Hot Dog.