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Why no Coney Island hot dog places in LA?

  • p

Twice in the last couple of years I've had the pleasure of being in Michigan where they have Coney Island hot dog restaurants.

For those you you who don't know a "Coney" is like this:

* Steamed bun
* Hot dog with a skin that snaps
* Homemade chili
* Chopped onions
* Mustard

Sound familiar? That's right it's a hot dog version of a Tommy's burger. Greeks run them both and know how to mix mustard, chili, onions and a meat to hit those sensory zones deep inside the brain.

Why don't they have Coneys in LA? The closest I've had was a chili dog from a Pink's stand at the LA County Fairgrounds.

I had Coney's two days in a row on the last trip. One didn't have the skin that snapped and it was a major buzz kill. Why don't all hot dogs snap?

Am I crazy to think a Coney place would kick butt in LA?

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  1. Have you tried "Pink's" on La Brea and Melrose? I think its a tad overrated but their dogs "snap" and they load them up with all kinds of toppings.

    But I've never had a real Coney Island dog so I wouldn't know what to compare it to. But the pink's chilli dog is basically a Tommy Burger in hot dog format.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Xericx

      Go to Steve's Hotdog Spot webpage. Might be helpful to you, plus it's fun to read!www.hotdogspot.blogspot.com.

    2. Try Carney's. They don't make me think of Coney Island but their dogs are great and have that "snap".

      A couple of Nathan's, the original Coney Island dog, have opened up in LA, one near Pico-Doheny, one near Hollywood-Highland. They both suck. Believe me. I grew up in Jersey and that's my opinion.

      1. Try Cupid's Hotdogs. Several locations in the San Fernando Valley. Steamed dogs with some snap, onions mustard and chili.

        Link: http://www.newspress.com/localbusines...

        2 Replies
        1. re: KinLA

          I grew up in the Valley and always loved Cupid's. It fits the OP's description, especially the snappy skin.

          But are they still good? I ask because the last time I had one, it was poor. Most notably, the dog itself was snap-less and bland. This was at location in Simi Valley, a black hole of deliciousness. Are the others still doing it right?

          -Nick

          1. re: nja

            I agree that Cupid's seems to fit the description. I was at the Northridge location yesterday and overheard the woman behind the counter saying that there are only 3 real Cupids left, and the others are franchises. Dunno if that has anything to do with your bad hotdogs, but mine were pretty good.

        2. Most hot dog chains and restaurants generally don't do well in Southern California because we are a car-centric community. We don't walk to places. Places like Coney are much more popular in the East where the population is much more dense and concentrated in one area, making walking from point A to point B much more common and practical, which leads to more foot traffic for hot dog places. If you are walking around running errands, stopping at a Coney to get a dog would be sort of natural. By contrast, if you are driving around running errands, would you really drive a bit out of the way, park, get out and buy just ONE hot dog?

          I just don't think people will actually drive somewhere just for a hot dog, no matter how good it is. Of course, there are exceptions like Pink's, but those are due to a combination of slick marketing, good location, and happenstance. I just don't think we will ever see a hot dog chain in SoCal on the scale of an In 'N Out.

          The one place where a hot dog chain might thrive is in a mall or shopping center, but then we already have the Hot Dog on a Stick stores. Those work because you can buy and walk and eat them at the same time. A chili dog is sort of messy and really calls for a table and chair.

          Just my 0.02.

          16 Replies
          1. re: ipse dixit

            Makes sense but there are so many in Detroit area and that's car centric. Plus I never can eat just one Coney. I need at least 2 plus small order of fries (Greek joints never get these right but oh well) and a small Greek salad.

            1. re: Pattonhead

              I don't think we have those Greek-run joints here in LA. I went to one of the Coney's in the Detroit area a couple years back, close to or maybe in Southfield. I have no idea what I ate and don't remember if I liked the food or not. The person who took me there was originally from New York and I think the food and/or ambience evoked in him some homesickness or something. Sort of how I feel when eating at Tito's. Maybe you have to be from there to get it.

            2. re: ipse dixit
              s
              Steve Doggie-Dogg

              There most definitely *IS* a Southern California hot dog chain that can be compared with In-N-Out Burgers. It's (Der) Wienerschnitzel. Longtime Angelenos will tell you about the proliferation of red roofed A frames in the late 60s and can sing the Wienerschnitzel theme song thirty five years later. I recently reviewed their dogs... see the Hot Dog Spot website... and found some of them to be pretty good... no snap but otherwise fine.

              Link: http://www.hotdogspot.blogspot.com

              Image: http://www.vintageip.com/hotdog/schni...

              1. re: ipse dixit

                I disagree with your theory that folks in LA won't drive for a hot dog. I drove 100 miles, round trip for a Chicago Dog on my birthday. I could've had anything I wanted, done anything I wanted, and that's what I chose to do.

                The real reason LA has no good hot dog joints is because the Dodgers with those flacid Farmer John weinies have denied Los Angeles their hot dog heritage! Native Angelino's have no idea what a good hot dog is. They think going to Weinerschnizel or Hot Dog on a Stick is a good hot dog. PU-LEEZ. No wonder they won't search out a good dog.

                Pink's is pretty good. Has the requisite history, however it's a shame that everytime you see a show on TV about hot dogs they always go to Pinks in LA. There must be many more places out there.

                I'm a Chicago Dog kinda girl, so here are my picks:
                Champs in Los Alamitos on Seal Beach Blvd.
                Mustards Last Stand in Los Alamitos on Katella
                Windy C's Chicago Dogs in Upland off of Mountain
                Chicago Harv's, Chapman Ave in Fullerton

                1. re: Pretty patty

                  "I disagree with your theory that folks in LA won't drive for a hot dog. I drove 100 miles, round trip for a Chicago Dog on my birthday. I could've had anything I wanted, done anything I wanted, and that's what I chose to do."

                  Hear, hear! On my mother's 82nd birthday she had my sister drive her to some joint where she hobled out of the car with her walker and scarfed a bagel dog.

                  1. re: Pretty patty

                    We're from NYC and still looking for a good hot dog in Southern Cal. A few people have mentioned Chicago Harv's on Chapman in Fullerton. We've been there and in our opinion it's not good at all. We can't figure out why people are even mentioning it. We haven't yet tried Katella Deli in Los Alamitos. They use Vienna. We're still searching for Sabrett's dogs in Orange County. Anyone know of anyplace here in OC which sells/serves Sabrett's?

                    1. re: forchetta2

                      If you get desperate there's a Nathan's in the mall in West Covina, and another in some mall in Rancho Cucamonga. The one in Rancho killed me because -- wait for it -- they DIDN'T HAVE SAUERKRAUT. I damn near fell over, I mean, it's Nathan's! You get two hot dogs with kraut and put the brown mustard on, and a thing of fries with that little two-tined fork thing, and a drink.

                      And then I went to A&W in Terminal C of Newark Airport last week and they didn't have sauerkraut either. Damn it, everyone from New York knows that hot dogs get eaten with sauerkraut!

                      To the OP -- lots of places have chili dogs but there aren't really Detroit-style Coneys [meaning the hot dog stands] around. There is, or was, a hot dog stand in a really depressing food court in the basement of one of the court buildings (the one east of Clara Shortridge Foltz) in downtown LA that had what might be closest to Detroit Coneys [the hot dogs themselves]. They also had pizza with tarragon vinegar available. I don't live in LA County anymore, so I don't get jury doody downtown, and don't know if it still exists.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        "...jury doody....," funniest thing I've seen in these parts for quite a while. Great line, Das Ubergeek!

                      2. re: forchetta2

                        For those who haven't noticed that this is an old thread, the Wiener Factory in Sherman Oaks is no more. :(

                        Although they're too big to fit my definition of a "coney", I am partial to the dogs at The Stand, which has outlets in Encino and Century City.

                        -----
                        The Stand
                        17000 Ventura Blvd Ste 204, Encino, CA 91316

                        Piknic Century City
                        2000 Avenue, of the Stars Los Angeles, CA

                      3. re: Pretty patty

                        Pinks is a local JOKE . . . if you want a decent dog you can try ANY of the local stands from the San Fernando Valley to Seal Beach. And if Steve likes a dog, there is a DAMN good reason why.
                        And as for the dodgers, you have to go back a long way to get a good dog. It hasn't always been a sad dog. Years ago the dogs were natural casing, cooked on a griddle and had steamed buns. But ALL good things come to an end just as everybody has to grow old.
                        You want a good Coney island dog . . . go to Coney Island. If you want a good Los Angeles dog try ANY good stand in the county.
                        Carney's on Sunset
                        Larry's in Burbank
                        and
                        Chronies in East L.A.
                        Order it the way you want it and enjoy! But please stop crying about what L.A. doesn't have . . . L.A. is the FAST FOOD capitol of the nation. Find a spot and enjoy.

                        1. re: nrique

                          Is Nathan's still at this location?
                          Nathan's Famous
                          9216 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
                          310 273-0303

                          If Nathan's isn't a Coney... what is?

                          1. re: Midlife

                            Is that the stand that is (or was) inside Kosher Delight?

                          2. re: nrique

                            As a born-and-bred Burbankian, I allways went to Carney's on Sunset in my teenage, hot dog craving years. It's got great atmosphere, and I allways enjoyed the chili dogs emmensly. It's been oh........20 *coughcough* years at least since i've eaten at Carney's. Hope they are still as good!

                            All my trips to Tommy's over my lifetime, and i've NEVER ordered a chili dog! Are they good? Can't go wrong with the burger, so i'd wager the dog is decent to good. Las Vegas finally has Tommy's now, just so people know . I've allready been out twice in 2 weeks! *LOL* I really gotta try their dogs, now. Plus, the breakfast sandwich- which sounds like it would cause serious heartburn by 11am!

                            1. re: Honeychan

                              Is the Carney's on Ventura in Stud City still open?

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                Yes, and still doing a thriving business, btw!!!

                        2. re: ipse dixit

                          Ipse, people in Detroit drive more than people do in LA.

                          I can't stand when New Yorkers whine about how the only good place to have a slice of pizza is in NY, but I have to say I haven't had a real Coney Dog out here. They look and taste so unhealthy, it's probably against some health codes out here. But they're marvelous.

                          Detroit 1 (Coneys)
                          LA 4384 (The Rest)

                        3. What about the "Coney Island" place on Vine just south of Hollywood. The owner claims to import his dogs. Despite this, if its true, he's certainly struggling to survive.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JonW

                            Lousy. IIRC, the dogs were "grilled" on the kind of rotating tubes a la 7-11/AM PM.

                          2. Had a great dog today at the Wiener Factory on Ventura. Had been before, but forgot how good they taste. Also, the Costco's have those outdoor snack bars, serve a 1/2 lb. Hebrew Nat'l dog that snaps. $1.50 includes soda, can't go wrong. But, don't think they'll serve it with chili. Oki dog is good but deadly.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: ciao ny

                              The Costco dogs aren't bad but they don't have the Coney taste. The hot dog flavor is too strong, there needs to be a melding of the bun, dog and toppings. Of course one of the toppings needs to be chili!

                              1. re: Pattonhead

                                All of your research has been done for you. Click below (terrific hot dog site.)

                                Link: http://hotdogspot.blogspot.com/2004/0...

                                1. re: Pattonhead

                                  Kosher Hot Dogs need a brown mustard-NOT chili
                                  Jeez!!!!!!!!!!!
                                  And the bun needs 30 secs on the grill.

                                  1. re: Bob Barnett

                                    "Kosher Hot Dogs need a brown mustard-NOT chili
                                    Jeez!!!!!!!!!!!
                                    And the bun needs 30 secs on the grill."

                                    Thank you. Perhaps it's an east coast thing, but I don't remember chili as part of the hot dog experience when I was growing up. It originated strictly an out of town. Maybe things have changed in the almost 30 years since I left.

                                    Really no offense, but it is funny to have someone from Michigan complain about the lack of authentic Coney Island dogs. You can't get more authentic than Nathan's - which you don't like. Then again it could be that the national hot dog experience has morphed into what you're looking for.

                              2. t
                                Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                                You almost answered your own question:

                                Go to Tommy's and get a dog, not a burger!

                                Their dogs are pretty tasty...I do believe they have the snap
                                you are looking for.

                                Though I must admit...when I think of Tommy's, the first thing
                                that comes to mind is a breakfast sandwich...egg, sausage, a thick tomato slice, that nuclear orange chili, mustard, mayo, pickles and double cheese. Awesome stuff.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Tha Groovin' Gourmet

                                  I'm a big fan of the breakfast sandwich at Tommy's but I make these changes:

                                  * No mayo
                                  * No mustard
                                  * Light onions
                                  * No pickles

                                  On the burgers I like it all (except the mayo) but don't like pickles, mustard in combination with the egg and sausage. "Just" tomato, chili, onions, egg, cheese and sausage.

                                  I've tried the chili dog at Tommy's but there was no snap :-(

                                  1. re: Pattonhead

                                    About a week ago I tried the "natural casing" dog at QT Chicago Dogs in Sherman Oaks (Woodman between Ventura and Moorpark, same location as Carnival)...thanks to Stevie Doggie-Dogg's posts and blog. That dog had a lot of snap and excellent flavor. But I had it Chicago-dog style, with mustard, day-glo relish, etc. but sans chili. I don't like to mix mustard and chili anyway. IIRC, Stevie's review of QT's was not favorable toward the chili but very favorable toward the natural casing dogs themselves. Luckily I live in the area and in those neighborhood coupon mailers QT's had a "buy two - get one free" special, which works out well for my husband and me.

                                2. Next time you're behind the Orange Curtain, try Jerry's Dogs in Santa Ana. They have the snap (natural casing is the trick, I believe) and will "dress" them as you please. Their chili is quite good.

                                  And where else (other than The Palm) can you get fresh-made potato chips?

                                  Link: http://www.jerrysdogs.com

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Dorothy

                                    Jack's in Westlake. (for fresh potato chips)

                                  2. This is an exact description of a Pink's dog.

                                    1. s
                                      Steve Doggie-Dogg

                                      I am in the process of putting the final touches on a review of The Wiener Factory. It may just be what you're looking for. I wasn't totally enamored with their chili, but if you don't mind flour mixed in as a thickener, this is the best of its style. I'll go ahead and put the review up now... excuse any typos. I haven't had time to proofread.

                                      Click through the link below for the complete review with pictures.

                                      You also might try Skooby's and QT's, but QT's chili is pretty awful.

                                      See ya
                                      Steve

                                      Link: http://www.hotdogspot.blogspot.com

                                      Image: http://www.vintageip.com/hotdog/facto...

                                      1. Okay, I've got two options and I'm very picky about the snapping issue.

                                        1) Skooby's on Hollywood -- very good, great snap, great saurkraut and chili, amazing french fries that are fried in peanut oil. I believe it was opened by a professionally trained chef who wanted to open a hot dog stand with a simple menu and everything done just right.

                                        2) As mentioned by someone else -- Carney's. It's so much better than Pinks.

                                        1. I agree with either Carney's. Just as described.