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Top Dog-style Hot Dog in L.A.?

  • p

I'm a recent transplant from Northern Cal to down south, and I'm jonesing for a Top Dog from Berkeley.

I've tried Pink's, which doesn't seem to do the same thing.

A Top Dog's main distinction for me is that the dogs are grilled (instead of boiled/steamed), and are served on a grilled substantial (seeded) bun. You can add your own cold chopped onions, sourkraut, spicy russian mustard, etc.

They offer something like 20 different types of dogs, including "Lemon Chicken", Brautwerst, New York Style, etc...

No Chili, no steam. Anything like this down here? Oh yeah, I always used to chase down a pair of top dogs with a tall lemonade.

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  1. Time to revisit this. I have some friends that live down here that would love to find a place like Top Dog. U-Dog in Westwood was awesome but short lived.

    So, favorite hot dog joint, if not a Top Dog replacement?

    1. "The Stand" in Encino www.thestandlink.com ,the Weiner Factory, Carni's and Okidog. I was told there is a great place in Manhatten Beach as well - Skooby's maybe. Not are the same as topdog, but maybe the stand comes closest. Of course Pinks is the most well know dog place in LA.

      1. I don't have an answer, but since I will be moving to LA in a few months, I hope you're successful. A while back, I found this blog devoted to hot dogs in LA, which might be helpful. Let me know if you find anything.


        1. i don't have an answer for you but i worked my way through college at the top dog on the north side of campus.

          (d'ya know if dick and renie still own the place?)

          their dogs ruined me for anything that i found down here--none measured up.

          1. Since Steve hasn't checked in yet, I'll send you to his spot:


            1. For a large variety, The Stand in Encino, posted above. Upscale atmosphere, for a hot dog joint, but worth a try.

              1. PS: I almost forgot -- you can now order Top Dog on-line and have it shipped to you.

                2 Replies
                1. re: a_and_w

                  Hot Dog Spot. Good times! Thanks for the links, guys. haha. PUN!

                  1. As a former NY Nathan's Hot Dog eating champ, a great grilled dog, I'm sorry to say i haven't found out here.
                    But I do like Carneys on the Sunset Strip. Much better than Pinks (way overated) it has a casing which makes each bitbite crispy!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wise1too

                      congrats on your accomplishment! there is a nathans on pico/beverly area. i like the vienna beef dogs at martys on pico a bit west of there.

                    2. Have you tried Jerry's Dogs in Orange?? Nothing is the same as Top Dog (we're from Berkeley too!) but this is the best & closest they seem to have down here!

                      1. There is a place in Riverside near UCR called "Dogout" that appears to be affiliated with Top Dog. Very similar menu, similar buns, and similar style dogs. They even have the same wall mural of the top dog serving customers overlooking Durant Ave posted on the wall (only on northside top dog in Berkeley) and their logo is suspiciously similar to Top Dog.

                        Not quite as good as the original, but not bad at all. The location is not convenient from LA and its probably not worth making a special trip, but if you are in the neighborhood it might be worth checking out. My parents live in Riverside, and I've been to the Dogout twice. It satisfies a craving, but there's no Berkeley "ambiance" to add to the experience.


                        1. wise1too,
                          You must be Steve! Sorry you missed our 3rd Annual New Jersey Hot Dog Tour. Having never been to California, I've heard from someone I know and trust that Top Dog is the best of the bunch. A grilled dog similar in flavor to Boars Head all beef. Not as spicy and flavorful as Nathan's Sabrett, or Best's (Newark, N.J., not Chicago), but a straightforward, solid, New York kosher style dog.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: hotdoglover

                            I personally don't care as much for kosher dogs. If it doesn't have a natural casing, it might as well be a Costco dog. The best dogmeat in LA is Carney's. Their dog is perfectly spiced, snappy and it squirts properly when you bite into it. (It won't squirt if it's grilled...)

                            Steve Doggie-Dogg

                            1. re: stevedoggiedogg

                              As always, to each their own. Growing up back east BEFORE the hot dog carts bacame so ubiquitous, a grilled beef hot dog signified a guality dog. Squirting never entered into it. Grilling may be one reason so I'm partial to Weinerschnitzel, since it's hard to find grilled beef dogs a la East Cost in L.A.

                          2. as a poor student, i like the bacon-wrapped dogs on the streets of hollywood served on the "shopping-cart grills". funny thing is that you can only find these between 12am-2am on Friday/Sat nights. i'm not sure what's in the dog (i probably don't wanna know).

                            1. Why am I so alone in loving Pinks????

                              I love Pinks.

                              1. What brand of dog is used at Carney's?

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: hotdoglover

                                  The Carney's dogs are made special for them. They won't tell where they get them- trade secret. You can buy them uncooked by the pound for your own BBQ or hot dog party though.

                                  Steve Doggie-Dogg

                                  1. re: stevedoggiedogg

                                    I broke their trade-secret a few years ago. Carney's carries a natural casing dog supplied by Farmer John. I actually went to the FJ plant in Vernon to purchase them....

                                  2. re: hotdoglover

                                    I am sure the Ralphs PS brand hot dogs in the chubs are NOT Carneys but they are VERY good. Snap caseing and good spicing.

                                    NOTE *** These are not found in the same case as the rot gut dogs but in the meat counter. 1/2# and 1# chubs. Hmmmm I need to get some!

                                  3. Is Jodi Morone's still around up at City Walk? They're kind of Top Doggish. Luckily, I'm heading up North end of the week and Top Dog is gonna be one of my stops thanks to this thread. Been a million years since I've had a TD.

                                    1. The Stand is a good bet (about the best in LA), but it pales to Top Dog. I graduated from Cal 16 years ago and have made many a trip up I-5 when the urge has hit.