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Best Bay Area Hot Dog

  • z

Who has the best hot dog? The most regionally authentic hot dog? No imitators, just the real SF/Bay Area deal. I know Top Dog up by the UCB probably gets a lot of recommendations, but who else can think of a great place?

I was inspired to ask this after watching a PBS special tonight and noticing the difference between NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Midwest, and West Coast dogs.

Speaking of the WC, I know from tales and long drunken stories of a famous place in LA that doesn't exist anymore called the Okey Dog, which was a hang out for all the late 70's/early 80's punk rockers who had a taste for hot dogs smothered in chili and cheese and wrapped up in a tortilla.

So...any takers?

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  1. s
    Stanley Stephan

    Kasper's Original Hot Dog is THE California Dog. Not to be confused with Caspers with a C hot dogs. This is the little red shack on 4521 Telegraph Avenue near Jack in the Box and McDonalds.

    After moving from the East Coast I was shocked to get a dog with fresh tomato and cheese. Quality is quality.

    The place still retains it's integrity even after Big Harry had a stroke. The son has expanded the line with another hot dog and added a web site.
    The web site:

    The following story describes Kasper's perfectly.

    Link: http://www.originalkaspers.com/home.html

    Image: http://www.zukazuka.com/cv/kaspers.jpg

    4 Replies
    1. re: Stanley Stephan
      Nathan Landau

      No doubt its demographic and its vibe have changed--what hasn't--but Oki Dog is still out there out on Pico Blvd. Perhaps no other eatery has brought out as much eloqence from the always eloquent Jonathan Gold.

      1. re: Nathan Landau

        There used to be an Oki Dog on Fairfax just North of Melrose on the East side of the street, (close to the Chinese place "Genghis Cohen") that I frequented. Quality was not what drew people to Oki Dog but rather life style/hipness standards as far as I could tell.

      2. re: Stanley Stephan

        Lots of fans of Original Kasper's on this board.

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. re: Stanley Stephan
          Stanley Stephan

          Ms. Eng who wrote the story about kaspar's history pointed out to me that the link does not connect to her story which it was intended to do. It is a great story so here's hopefully the corrected link.

          I always love to know the history of restuarants. I found Kaspars either through an article in the Examiner or Chronicle when Big Harry was still alive. I was happy / sorry to read the story about the updates to Kaspar's. The original story I read was lost so it was great to be able to find a copy of the story. I was sorry to hear Harry died. I've been to kaspar's a number of times since Harry had his stroke and I've been reluctant to ask his son how he was doing.

          Link: http://www.zukazuka.com/cv/kaspers.html

        2. Does anyone remember Chris and John's? It was a burger/hotdog stand across the street from Oakland Tech on Broadway in Oakland. Must have closed twenty years ago. They had the best hotdogs....with all the fixins, including fresh tomatoes. My idea of a great pigout (that's what we used to call a chowdown in high school) was a Chris and John's hot dog followed by a visit to Maria's Bavarian Cheesecake next door....

          I've always been fond of Top Dog, but only the original on Telegraph Ave. I think its a Berkeley alumni thing....

          2 Replies
          1. re: Janet

            Of course, I meant to say "Off of Telegraph" not "On Telegraph" when referring to the original Top Dog on Durant. Sorry!

            I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

            1. re: Janet

              Chris and John's! a great place! when I was a kid I would be sent on hot dog runs for my mom! We lived on Manila, just a half block from Oakland Tech....thanks for bringing it up! It was a great memory!

            2. Oki Dog does still exist, actually. I just drove by it a couple weeks ago. It's on Pico just west of La Brea. In the Bay Area, my favorites are Top Dog and Kasper's.

              1. There's a truly tacky-looking little hot dog lunch counter in a warehouse district in San Rafael. The owner is a very pleasant fellow and he serves big doggies with lots of different fixin's at a hunger-cure-for-cheap price. He also has hot links and Polish. The sausages cook in some kind of metal contraption, and it looks like it does a combination of steaming and oven baking. The sausages do not suffer from washed-outness (like Costco's do) or underdone or overdoneness (like Orange Julius's can).

                The chili dog is my favorite.

                Jimbos Hot Dogs
                4288 Redwood Highway
                San Rafael, CA 94903

                This stretch of Redwood Hwy is a frontage road between the Terra Linda and Lucas Valley exits.

                1. I think you have your answer...Top Dog on Durant, none of the others compare....we used to arm wrestle to determine who would run from our house on Dwight and Ellsworth at 2:45am to make the 3am deadline...I'll take a Kiel and a Bock....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Joe Thomas

                    My fave is the Hot Link. The buns there are special. I wonder where they got those buns ???

                    All their dogs are good, I must say. Everyone is excellent. However, a connoissur friend of mine told me that they had better dogs in Seattle. Anyone knows about it ?

                  2. One vote here for Royal Frank in San Rafael. Unchanged for 40 years.

                    1. 1) Rosamunde on Haight
                      2) Aidell's-based hotdogs that they sell out of a stand at the Saturday Farmers Market at the Embarcadero.

                      1. s
                        Shepherd B. Goode

                        OK, been eatin Top Dogs 26 years now, Durant, Northside, Montclair, and this is not to say that I won't still be eatin 'em now & then--but they have the highest ratio of bread to meat of any dog/sausage I've ever bought anywhere. Me, I like the roll to be a wrapper for the doggie, a handle, like. Top Dog, seems more like the dogs are just there to give a little flavor to the bread.

                        Me, I've had some of the highest weenie satisfaction from street vendors' carts, especially the ones along Third Street in Oakland, between Oak and Market. Big, plump dogs and Polish that pop when you bite 'em. Slather on your own condiments, eat it standing on the curb, yow, street life.

                        1. I happened on this place many years ago when I was a bike messenger. A hot dog cart in front of the Pacific Stock Exchange. He's only there at lunch time M-F and he leaves when he runs out. But he plays good music, has a 'secret' list of weekly good jokes and fixes your dog any way you like. He used to throw in an extra dog sometimes when I looked like I needed it too.

                          So, he gets my vote. Great dogs too, BTW.

                          1. Unfortunately I see nothing mentioned for the South Bay. Any favorites in Santa Clara and/or San Mateo counties?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: cheesecakeking

                              There is Marks Hot Dogs in San Jose on Capitol Ave and Alum Rock Rd. They sell foot longs with the classic toppings, the meat is q;uality, they are steamed so you get that snap on your first bite. Only The big deal about them is that they are a car hop. Not a big menu, chips, chili and really good soda floats. Home town classic., everyone loves it.

                              1. re: 2sjfoodies

                                NOTE - This is a 2002 thread being added to in 2009

                                Mark's Hot Dogs
                                48 S Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95127

                              2. The Top Dog from Top Dog on Durant with lots of sauerkraut and mustard is simply the best...especialy before and after a football game. Go Bears!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: yehfromthebay

                                  I have to dissent on all the Top Dog love. Nothing special at all. Best dog I've had in a while was at T Rex.

                                  1. re: zunzie

                                    Top Dogs used to be great!

                                    They stopped being great around 1992.

                                    Did they shrink the dog and bun or what?

                                    Plus they used to have a Louisiana hot link that was actually "hella" Hot!!!!

                                    Their version now makes me sad :(

                                    Back in the late 70's you could get a Topdog, a bag of chips and a drink for $1.00 after a trip to Leopold's LP store down the street...good times.

                                2. This place has been around for years! I've seen workers from old to young...and the food remains the same. Great! It's Sac's hot dogs on Springs Road in Vallejo, CA.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jynnmiller

                                    Second for Sac's - reminds me a lot of Harry's Kasper hotdogs at the "Y" at Shattuck and Telegraph in Oakland (across from the Bubble Machine car wash and Bertolli's before both were torn down). I worked at car wash one summer and Harry always told me he appreciated the way I would always return the soda bottles - there was an older gentleman working there on Sundays, Harry's only day off - this had to be in 1970, yikes that's over 40 years ago!
                                    I always get the original Sac's dog, mustard, relish, tomato and sliced onion (they also have diced) Ladies making the dogs are always attentive and friendly.