UPDATED 11/30/09 Tripping through the San Fernando Valley
Yes, I'm a Valley Girl. At least during the daytime.
Thought I’d do something very different. I can’t get away from my store everyday so this took me two weeks to complete.
I had a chili dog everyday from different hot dog places around the San Fernando Valley. SFV is in Los Angeles County, California. I work in Sherman Oaks and it was my starting point.
I don’t normally eat chili dogs so this is where I strayed.
Here goes! QT’s Chicago Dogs
4344 Woodman Ave
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 http://www.qtchicagodogs.com/
1.5 miles from work
QT’s occupies the corner of a liquor store. Nice to be able to share the rent and possibly sell something to someone who didn’t know that they were hungry. Almost a captive audience!
If you didn’t know it was there, you could easily miss it. I search out hot dogs, so I knew!
Order: One Chili Cheese dog with mustard and onions and a small Diet Coke. $5.79 with the chili dog costing $3.39
I think it would have tasted the same with or without the cheese. It didn’t add anything to the taste.
I sat down at one of the plain Formica tables decorated with a small pot of fake flowers. There never seems to be anyone else there. I guess it could be because I eat lunch at 3PM.
I received the dog without mustard and I could count the pieces of diced red onion on one hand. Do you see them? They’re on top of the chili.
This was a Vienna beef hot dog which I remember loving. Not so this time. The consistency of the hot dog was a little soft. Maybe it was this way because for another $1 a natural casing dog was available. This wasn’t highly seasoned which for me is good. I needed to eat fast and run so I couldn’t wait for them to cook the natural casing dog. The other regular Viennas were sitting in hot water.
The bun was a poppy seed bun that was a little dry. The chili didn’t have much flavor at all. I’d go back because it’s convenient to work, but I’d ask for more onions and please… remember the mustard!
12601 Ventura Bl
Studio City, CA 91604 http://carneytrain.com/main.html
2.7 miles from work.
What could be more fun? Eating a hotdog in a train car! These train cars and caboose were permanently placed for use as the restaurant. There are two cars side by side with a sort of tube connecting them. The one in the back is the kitchen and you order and sit in the one facing the parking lot. Very clean inside and if for some reason you don’t want to dine in the passenger car you could eat at one of the few tables outside.
Order: One Carney Dog (which is a chili dog with mustard, tomato and onions) and a small Diet Coke. $5.09 with the chili dog costing $3.55. I told them no tomato. Doesn’t belong on my dog!
What I found interesting was on the menu it said to choose between yellow and dark mustard. They didn’t ask me. I happen to like yellow mustard when it’s paired with chili. There was no mention of catsup/ketchup anywhere on the menu, but there was a squirt bottle on every table. I’m guessing it was there for the fries.
Looks great! The dog is longer than the bun which I always like. Covered with chili and diced white onions in a steamed bun. I wouldn’t be able to eat this one while driving. MESSY!
The chili is so good that it stands on its own. I could order a bowl of it with onions and be happy. I’m thinking that maybe there was some filler in it, but that’s quite okay.
However it was quite greasy.
The hot water dog had the perfect snap and was mildly smoky. The bun was steamed! I like steamed buns. However I don’t like them to stick to the paper. By the time I was finished scraping the bun off the paper I had to get up for a fork to finish the chili that was still on the paper. Wouldn’t want to waste it, it was that good.
Funny thing at Carney’s this time was that my Diet Coke had no flavor. Maybe they were running out of syrup or maybe they don’t buy the best grade. I don’t remember it being that way.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Cupid’s Hot Dogs
9039 Lindley Ave
Northridge, CA 91324 http://www.cupidshotdogs.com/
10 miles from work
Let me begin by saying that I ate Cupid’s dogs for the entire time I was in College at Cal State Northridge. It’s right across the street from the campus. I either liked school or the hot dogs because I was there for 5 years and 2 majors.
Chili dogs with mustard and onions (AKA one with everything) and a small root beer. $5.50 total with the chili dogs costing $2.25 each including tax. Such a bargain, I had two!
They were just as I remembered. A good slathering of mustard sprinkled with diced fresh white onions and topped with the chili. Why can’t anyone else figure out that the onions go under the chili? Nothing seemed to have changed since the 70’s when I went to school there. Even the same concrete tables! I wonder if they had any damage from the Northridge Earthquake.
Cupid’s fare: Hot dogs and only hot dogs. You can get chips and a drink but that’s it.
The hotdogs were longer than the semi-steamed buns and a little thinner than others I’ve had at the other places. They had a natural casing with a little bite and a mild porkish/smoky flavor which was nice. They were served fresh out of a steamer… HOT!
I think it’s their chili that I love. It’s the carb lover in me. Cupid’s has some sort of starchy extender in their chili. No meat, just starch. YUM! I could eat just the steamed bun with mustard and their chili. It’s not greasy at all, probably because of the lack of meat….but I wouldn’t be able to eat it just on it’s own.
Cupid’s was worth today’s drive but I wouldn’t do it that often.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- THE INFIELD
14333 Ventura Blvd,
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Only a half mile from my store, but the parking is awful. It took a mile of driving to get this parking space. See the end of the sidewalk? That’s how far I had to walk (gasp) to The Infield.
They have 4 parking spaces which were all filled. I was the only customer. It’s nice that they care more about their own comfort than that of their customers.
I had issues with The Infield when they reopened. They were formally The Dip which sold French Dip sandwiches. I was upset that The Wiener Factory was forced out of their location by the landlord’s hope of Pinkberry paying a lot more in rent. I loved the CCO’s (Chili Cheese Onion) at the Wiener Factory and I miss it!
My issue was that they switched to hot dogs when the Wiener Factory closed. Seemed to me that they were trying to bank on another’s misfortune. It’s true that it’s business and it was the perfect opportunity, but they plastered a huge hot dog banner on the building, covering most of it. It felt to me like they were laughing at the WF’s demise and it was a big slap in the face.
Anyway I gave them a try when they first opened and was served a cold dog in a dry bun. I said I wouldn’t be back but it’s been a few months and I guess everyone deserves a 2nd chance.
The Infield is a baseball themed hot dog stand. They even have bleachers to sit on while you wait for your order and real stadium seats where you can sit and eat. Their hot dog offerings are Hebrew National, Dodger Dogs, Sabretts and Papa Cantellas.
The hot dogs are steamed and they are served on the same buns you can buy in the grocery store. Nothing special there.
Those seats looked uncomfortable so I opted for my CCO to go. I ordered my chili cheese dog without the tomato and a small diet coke. $5.57 What’s with the tomatoes As I was waiting I noticed that they also had Dr. Browns. I give them points for having Dr. Brown’s in the bottle. Add a dollar to my bill for switching drinks. I forgot about asking for mustard.
They don’t think much of their menu. Laminated paper stuck to the wall. Guess it’s easy to change this way:
I was handed my bottled drink and the dog wrapped in foil. No bag. I should have realized when walking back to my car that my lunch was cold.
I opened the foil. ICK! Grease everywhere. Forget about eating it while driving. There was no way I could even hold this hot dog.
Being the Roadfood sort of person I am, I have plastic utensils in my car. My chili dog was made with the Papa Cantellas dog. The dog itself was quite tasty, but lacking in the snap department. Well maybe it did snap. I cut it with a knife and ate it with a fork so how would I really know? It had a dense, not mushy at all kind of consistency. I liked the Papa Cantellas.
The chili was thick, greasy and tasteless. The bun was nothing special. I didn’t finish it because it was like eating an oil slick.
I won’t be back.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Home Plate Burgers
7615 Reseda Bl
Reseda, CA 91335
9 miles from work
Found this place on the internet. Not real close to my store, but they advertise Foot Longs. How could I resist?
OMG they’re also advertising chocolate MALTS! (I love malts)
Looks like a foot long on the building, doesn’t it? I’d stop even if I wasn’t looking for it.
What? They don’t have foot longs. Boo Hiss! What I ordered was the Detroit Coney Island Dog and chocolate malt. What? The ice cream machine is broken? No Malt?
The Coney is topped with mustard, chili, onions and cheese. Perfect, just what I want. With that I had a small root beer from a machine. Price for both was $5.51. Their small drink is everyone else’s medium. The little extra on the menu that I noticed was that they also serve Vernor’s Ginger Ale. I haven’t had that in years. I wondered if it would still make me choke.
When I got it the server let me know that the hot dog and chili were from Detroit. I also read it on the menu.
It was delivered quickly with a little American flag. Cute!
HOME RUN! This hot dog was almost perfection! The Detroit Dog was heavily smoked, had a little snap and was quite delicious. It was topped in perfect proportions and placed in a nicely steamed bun. After a few bites to get anything loose that might fall on me, I ate it in the car on the way back to work.
The chili was as good as the dog. Too bad it’s so far from work.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- THE STAND
17000 Ventura Bl,
Encino, CA 91316 http://www.thestandlink.com/
3.1 miles from work.
Parked in the shared parking lot to the side of The Stand. Cute rear entrance.
I walked through to the front to try to take a picture of the building front. Not easy up close!
Very interesting inside. It looks like they’re trying to be the Starbucks of the hot dog stands. Lot’s of chrome, glass and display cabinets. I think the Ventura Bl location was the first, but now there are 4 locations. How many make a chain?
They have inside eating,
Enclosed patio eating.
They have room to serve a lot of guests at once.
I was there after 3PM so there were just a couple eating inside and out. I was the only one ordering but they still gave me the vibrating disk to let me know when my chili dog was ready.
My order: Chili dog with mustard and NO tomatoes with a Thomas Kemper Bottled Black Cherry Soda. $7.85 The dog was $4.50 and the drink $2.75
OUCH! It cost way too much even if it is close.
You have a choice of steamed or grilled and I chose steamed to keep it like the others I’ve been eating.
I should have paid more attention. I wouldn’t have paid that much for a drink I didn’t plan to finish. (I’m a Type II type) I just wanted a couple of sips to try the flavor. I actually liked the deep cherry flavor of the Thomas Kemper better than that of Dr. Brown’s. When I was a kid Dr. Brown’s was much better. It tastes watered down to me now.
The vibrator buzzed and it was time to eat. I chose the covered patio. The server carried the hotdog out for me. Do I look that weak?
Guess I wasn’t paying attention to the large menu because the hot dog was served with “Stand Chips”. I’d never order chips, but they’re included. They were also very good, but I only ate a few.
My chili dog looked like a painting. It had a perfect line of hand diced onions running down the top on top of the chili with a fine squiggle of the requested yellow mustard over everything. My first thought was that I like my mustard on the bun, not on top.
I picked up my all beef chili dog and as I was raising the mildly steamed bun to my mouth the entire layer of onions (with mustard) fell on to the chips and the chili was now all over my hands. I had no utencils to pick them up with, but the thick chips worked just fine. Revelation! I found I like onions with mustard on chips. Good thing I wasn’t in the car. It would have been very bad.
I didn’t notice a snap to the dog, but the flavor was nicely smoked. Very flavorful. The chili had ground meat in it. Nice! The steamed bun however seemed ordinary.
Not bad, but I like my hot dogs for the taste, not for how they look. I also like everything to stay in the bun and a reasonable price.
----------------------------------------------------------------- Fab Hot Dogs
6747 Tampa Ave.
Reseda, CA http://www.fabhotdogs.com/
8.5 miles from work and I took the freeway
Located in a strip of businesses, Fabs is an Interesting place with lots of choices. There is a little seating indoors, one table outside and you get to watch them prepare your dogs.
It was crowded with just a few people inside. No where to stand while waiting.
Choices! They have steamed, grilled and deep fried hot dogs. The standard is steamed and that’s what I went with this time. They also offer a turkey dog and a veggie dog.
I asked the man who took my order who I assumed is the owner what kind of dogs they serve. He nicely told me that he doesn’t tell. However, he did tell me that they are all beef except for “The Ripper” which is a combination pork/beef dog. The Ripper is the dog that they deep fry. He told me that he flies in the beef dogs once a week from New Jersey. (A hint!)
My order: The Cheese Coney which is their chili/cheese dog and….. A Carolina Slaw Dog! I’ve never seen one before and just had to try one. I also ordered a canned Diet Coke even though they had bottled Dr. Brown’s. I was surprised that they didn’t have a soda machine.
The man/owner was very nice and plated my dogs for pictures and then he packed them to go.
I ate the chili dog in the car on the way back to the store. It consisted of without asking, chili, cheese, onions and mustard. WOW! What a dog! The taste of the hot dog was the best I’ve ever had. The snap was incredible but maybe a little too difficult to bite through while driving. What a great tasting wiener!
There was too much cheese on the dog, not enough onions or chili and the ordinary bun although lightly steamed was dry by the time I ate it. I ate the cheese off the top first because it never melted and could fall all over me while driving. It didn’t have the taste of a chili cheese dog because there was too much mustard. It just didn’t taste like a chili dog to me.
I tried the Slaw Dog when I got back to work. ICK! Not my thing. I love coleslaw on my French Dips and other sandwiches but something was wrong with this combination. Maybe it’s because I hate celery seeds and the slaw was loaded with them. That’s not their fault. BUT… Was this the same chili that was on my chili dog? It had way too much cumin in it and I hate too much cumin! Maybe if I heated it up it would be better. Thirty seconds in the microwave, I took another bite and had to scrape everything off the dog. I was able to eat the chili on the chili dog, but not on the slaw dog. Hmmmm. I guess that means that the chili is home made and maybe from another batch. But that dog! I love the taste and texture of that New Jersey Dog!
I will go back to Fabs because as I was waiting for my order the girls that were finishing up their first order placed another for the LA Street Dog. It looked like the dog of my dreams, a bacon dog covered by grilled onions and peppers. Reading about it on their menu board changed my opinion. I’ll have to alter it when I place my order! No tomatoes, no jalapenos, no mayo and NO Ketchup!
The item on the menu that I found interesting was their Fairfax Burrito Dog. I guess the name Oki Dog is copyrighted. This is an Oki Dog renamed for the Oki’s location… Fairfax Avenue. Ha!
Maybe I’ll even have a mustard and onion, split and grilled dog the next time. I can’t wait!
My new camera came yesterday. Guess I’ll have to read the book because it didn’t work right out of the box. Hopefully any future pictures will be clear.
Summing up my chili dog eating experiences:
Best chili -- Carney’s to eat out of a bowl, but the starchy Cupid’s is still my favorite.
Best wiener -- Tie between the New Jersey Dog from Fabs and the Detroit dog from Home Plate
Best Bun -- QT’s because it was a poppy seed bun. They just need to give it a little more steam
My favorite all around chili dog was from Home Plate. Sure wish it was closer to work!
For convenience I'll be mostly going to Carney's.
post edited by mar52 - 2009/11/30 19:02:07