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Jul 29, 2008 03:16 PM

Fab Hot Dogs--mini report

Having just seen the newly-revived discussion about "rippers", which recently included mention of Fab Hot Dogs in Reseda, DH and I decided to travel the 30 miles or so from our house to go try some dogs. Being a former Jersey Girl, I was practically raised on Rutt's Hut rippers (for those of you who have never heard of them, they are hot dogs with a casing that "rips" when cooked in hot oil), so I headed to Reseda with both great anticipation and wariness.

As we entered the unassuming storefront, we found a clean and cheerful interior with 3 tables on one side and two stools next to a tiny counter on the other. Taking up an entire wall was an extensive menu, featuring different dogs, some burgers, and many toppings. Among the offerings are The Bald Eagle (ripper with mustard relish), Coney Island (chili, cheddar cheese, diced onions and mustard), L.A. Street Dog (bacon-wrapped all-beef dog, grilled onions & peppers, diced tomato, jalapenos, mustard, mayo & ketchup), Spicy Hatch Green Chile Dog (roasted Hatch chiles with jack cheese & mustard), and a Carolina Slaw Dog (homemade chili, mustard and southern cole slaw). There are also double dogs (such as the Sonora Dog, consisting of two dogs on a toasted sub roll with bacon, tomatillo salsa, Jack cheese, pinto beans, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion & sour cream), a few different French fry options, and tater tots. I went for the Bald Eagle, while DH tried one as well, along with an L.A. Street Dog. After we ordered them, the owner showed us the ripper before he applied the toppings, because he said he likes to show them to people, I think so they know what they're getting (and let's face it, a ripper has an unusual look). We got to chatting, and he said that he and his wife had taken an East Coast hot dog tour so they could try different styles (as reflected on the menu). He also said that his rippers are supplied by the same place that supplies Rutt's Hut, and that he had to convince them to ship the dogs out to him.

Finally, the moment of truth had arrived... Well, actually, the Street Dog came out first, so DH chowed down on that as I waited (okay, I had a bite too!). Really good--I'm not one to put jalapenos on my hot dogs, but I liked it, and hubby enjoyed the smokey flavor the bacon added. (As a disclaimer, we can't compare them to actual L.A. street dogs, as neither of us has been initiated enough to try them, despite passing by trays of them many a time after a Hollywood Bowl performance--but, that's a whole other discussion!) We were told that the Fab relish was different than Rutt's, and it was. Carrots, a long-rumored "secret ingredient" of Rutt's relish, were in visible evidence here. I liked the crunchy texture of the relish a lot, but to anyone who expects Rutt's relish, be forewarned that this is not the same. Good in its own right, though. As for the hot dog, I liked it very much. I actually would have preferred a bit more crunch or snap (maybe next time I'll ask for it well-done), but it was still very tasty. DH enjoyed his as well. Can't comment on the fries or tots, as we didn't have any, but next time I'll have to try the Garlic Ranch fries--yum!

The owner was super-nice--he said they'd been open about 6 weeks, and when I told him I'd discovered the place from a thread on Chowhound, he was very intrigued. I really like the idea of the menu including different regional styles of hot dogs, and I can't wait to go back to try some different kinds.

So, the final analysis? Well, to me, nothing can replace my beloved Rutt's Hut rippers (though I think part of that is the overall atmosphere, including the surly waitresses, wood paneling, and knowing that the place has been around since my grandparents were dating there), but Fab does a really good job. And considering that a drive to Reseda from the Westside is a lot quicker and cheaper than a flight to Newark, I'll be back again for sure, especially since this is the first time I've seen rippers on this coast at all.

Fab Dogs
6747 Tampa Ave.
Reseda, CA 91335 (just south of Vanowen)
(818) 344-4336

Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
Sun 11am-6pm

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  1. Thanks for running and taking one for the crowd, Green - and for the great review!! I am so excited by all the different versions of hot dogs they have. I am an LA native and have not had an LA Dog, so... also, I have never been to Rutt's so I will have nothing to compare it to! I love it that they researched hot dogs before opening. That is great - shows real dedication to what they are doing.
    Whenever I go to the valley, I always get a Cupid's chili dog (and some to go) but next time, it will definitely be Fab's.
    Thank you again, Green. BTW, are you one of those who were conceived in the parking lot of Rutts?? ;-)

    3 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede

      I was happy to sample Fab's wares to do the report--every time I saw the "rippers" thread I almost wanted to book a flight to NJ immediately (and then clean the drool off the keyboard...).

      And no, I wasn't conceived at Rutt's--but my mother always pointed out the make-out area of the parking lot... :)

      1. re: beingreen

        Beingreen, thank you for making my day with your great post. I went to Rutt's Hut as a child, and if anything here is even remotely close, I will consider it a blessing!

        1. re: foodhappy

          Thanks for the review. I am in Simi and this place is not too far for me to go to. I have never had a ripper so this will be something new for me.

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          1. I'll be in the area this weekend. Looks like I know where I'm going.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              I just went back to the place today. I had their Bratwurst Special and a steamed dog. Both were excellent. Funny thing is, I still haven't tried the Ripper which is how I heard about this place on CH. Maybe it's the idea that it's deep fried that kinda scares me. I better try it. It can't be much unhealthier than the BLT dog that I had on my 1st visit (which was also excellent). I'm kinda interested in the coleslaw dog though.

              1. re: Galen

                As mentioned above, the whole point of the ripper is to get it with very few toppings - a minimalist approach (if one can say that about a deep fried dog) is best. Cut the inherent richness of a ripper with mustard and maybe a little sauerkraut.

                1. re: Galen


                  Good to know you so enjoyed the other things you tried. If I were in the Valley more often I'd definitely be at Fab more, and not just for the Rippers... And don't worry, the deep-fried part isn't as scary as you think--it's more along the lines of fried balogna than, say, almost anything at a county fair... :)