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Someone explain The Fascination with Tommy's and Pinks?

  • c
  • crap Dec 8, 2005 12:18 PM
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Be warned this is a mild rant.

I think they're both horrible excuses for a chili burger and dog.

I'll start with Tommy's first. First of all the meat patties are thin, completely void of any real meaty substance. This is clearly an issue with Tommy's as a In N Out burger does not have this problem. Secondly and most puzzling to me is the (in) famous chili. To me, it tastes much like mashed up Dennison's with added lard so it tastes less like chili and more like... I don't even know what to compare it to. It's horrible.

Pinks. I don't even know why Tony Bourdain bothered to eat one. If it doesn't look like a dog it probably doesn't taste like one either. Why can't there just be a Top Dog or a Papaya King? Why Pinks? Why defile the hot dog with such appalling toppings and combinations? I'll tell you why. It's because the dog itself sucks. It's a way to mask the cheap disgusting quality of the star ingredient itself. I've had 100x better luck with the Hotdog carts outside of the Staples Center after a game.


I don't get these two very famous and saught out Los Angeles traditions...

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  1. All good points, except are you aware of what actually goes into a hot dog wiener? It ain't filet mignon and foie gras!

    1. Why patronize Pinks and Tommy's, when there are far 'superior' dogs and burgers to be had? Same reason that the likes of Hugh Grant (allegedly) patronized a hollywood prostitute, when he had Elizabeth Hurley's superior posterior waiting at home. Hugh did not seek out 'finer goods' when he had a hankerin' for some strange; he wanted something illicit and arguably bad for him... When I go to Pink's, I want something bad for me; something nasty & something cheap, that I'd be embarrassed to be seen putting in my mouth by my refined peers. Pink's coterie of wild toppings are akin to going to the Bunny Ranch in Nevada and having a dozen choices of ill-costumed, poorly-dye-jobbed trollops paraded before you, to select one's perverse fantasy of choice; no one goes to the Bunny Ranch looking for Angelina Jolie. And no one patronizes Pink's looking for prime beef. It's an aspect of human nature, I believe, to feed our shadow desires, and Pink's and Tommy's is a legal and relatively safe means to 'slum' with the dark lords of the lake of fire known as our gut...

      15 Replies
      1. re: silence9

        Pinks is just tradition, I used to go with my dad and mom, it was one of the first chili dog places in LA, sort of. They also have some really good stuff, try the 12" jalapeno dog, no chili, just mustard and onions. They wait is a joke, I only go when i am near and there is a short short line. Back in the day, Paul Pink and his helper could crank out a million dogs, you never waited more than 3-4 minutes max, but back then it was not as big a menu and they did not do burgers.

        1. re: silence9

          Absolute brilliance, Silence...

          Welcome to LA, crap!

          1. re: silence9

            Best response to a post EVER!!!!

            Kudos to you silence9! I was laughing my head off.

            Link: http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

            1. re: silence9

              Beautifully put, as usual, Silence!! ;-)

              1. re: silence9

                ha! Ok, I'll buy that for a dollar.

                Personally, my palate and gut don't work that way but I see your point.

                1. re: silence9
                  s
                  Silverlake Bodhisattva

                  As good as Hemingway, Silence9. ROTFLOL. Possibly the single greatest piece of food writing I've seen this year!

                  1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

                    hear hear!

                    1. re: Silverlake Bodhisattva

                      I agree!

                    2. re: silence9

                      Hi, and thanks to all for the kudos. Just couldn't resist the opportunity to justify both Pinks and the world's oldest profession in the same post ;-)

                      1. re: silence9
                        s
                        Slverlake Bodhisattva

                        There's lurking somewhere in that comment ("Just couldn't resist the opportunity to justify both Pinks and the world's oldest profession in the same post") the seeds of a REALLY crude, and possibly funny, joke, which I will not, however, plant, tend and harvest.

                        r gould-saltman

                      2. re: silence9

                        thank you silence for explaining it so well.
                        i never understood before.
                        you are a master.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Hi there... Haha, I forgot about that post! Thanks for the reminder :-)

                        2. re: silence9

                          If Hugh Grant had responded to Jay Leno's infamous "What were you thinking?!" question with the brilliant philosophical words of silence9, even Liz Hurley would have forgiven the poor soul for his Sunset Blvd. transgression!

                          1. re: silence9

                            Profound, my man, profound.

                            1. re: silence9

                              Yes, brilliant.

                            2. I agree with you. For me it's not the food but rather the company I was with and good memories times I have had at both places. Even if you go back again alone, it's still the previous memories that keep you happy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Dave Gee

                                Yup, after a first date at the Dorothy Chandler, after HS football games, after prom... all great memories!!

                              2. Tommy's chili dogs are great especially with some cheese, a little mustard and some pickles. Go to the original (I believe) location off of Rampart.

                                1. Personally, I absolutely love Tommy's and Pink's. They both have great chili - I don't mean Texas Chili Cookoff type of great chili, but I happen to really like it. A little goopy but good.

                                  When it comes down to it, it's all a matter of what a person likes. I love Tommy's and Pink's, but I also love Langer's pastrami, Cimarusti's seafood creations at Providence, sushi from Kiriko, seared Hudson Vally foie gras, steak from Ruth's Chris, and, dag nabit, I like the McRib from McDonald's.

                                  So the bottom line is that you don't have to "get it". If you don't like it, then don't go. Don't question why they're famous or sought out just because they're not your cup of tea. Plenty of other folks like it.

                                  1. First off, I love Tommy's, so I'm going to be biased in my appraisal of their chili. I do think Tommy's chili is misunderstood when it's compared to the likes of canned product like Dennison's. You might hate it, but they've blazed their own trail. This appears to be a problem with understanding Chili John's as well for there are many chilis in this world. Tommy's goes back to the idea of chili as sauce, not the ground meat-beans-spice mixture you find in a can or a soup bowl. Tommy's chili is a mutated mixture of cumin (and other spice), flour, grease/fat/lard, and some sort of crumbly meat product, perhaps it has dried chiles as well. It is a condiment, an element of the whole experience, as much so as the pickles, pale red tomato slice, chopped onion, overcooked thin meat patty, and spongey bun. Sum of its parts, take it or leave it. The magic is that it takes a jumble of mediocre ingredients and creates something bigger and better. Well, not to the Tommy-haters, but to the rest of us. If they switched to some *gourmet* chili with beans or used better meat it just wouldn't be the same.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: petradish

                                      From one Tommys Chili lover and pretty mean chili chef herself to another... It totally agree with you Petra on every point...

                                      Pinks on the other hand... Eh...

                                      --Dommy!

                                      1. re: petradish

                                        The meat is that chorizo that comes in a big green can. Zippy's chili in Hawaii has the same base.

                                        1. re: petradish

                                          I agree completely. You do NOT want a bowl of pink's or tommy's chili plain, because it ain't a stew. it's a sauce that's devoid of any recognizable pieces of meat at all, which is why it needs to be slathered on something.

                                          The nostalgia factor is increased by the fact that tommy's and pink's were two originals. while you can find a chilidog or chiliburger at almost any corner burger joint nowadays, those two used to really be the only places to go (hence the reason for so much nostalgia).

                                          Nowadays, i think that first responder was right. it's all about going for a gut-bomb. there's an element of fun and danger in it that most people love. just look at the people who are finishing up their meals at either place. most of them will be reclined in some strange combinatin of contentment and agony, but they'll all be smiling.

                                          1. re: petradish

                                            I tried Chili John's chili a couple of times and can't stand the stuff. 50% because it doesn't come close to what I think of as chili and 200% because it's awful.
                                            If I at all cared , I'd start a thread "Someone explain why so many people like John's chili?"

                                            Since I'm here, I'll add my 2 cents. I have a chili dog at Pink's on the rare occasions I'm in Hollywood, hungry for a tasty fairly quick snack, in the middle of the afternoon when the line is relatively short. I also get a chili dog at Tommy's occasionally. No nostalgia involved for me, I just think they're tasty snack's that hit the junk food spot.
                                            I always order chili dogs easy on the chili. If you order them regular you have choice of either eating them w/ a knife and fork or end up looking like a 1 yr old after eating a chili dog. Eating a chili dog, burger or sandwich w/ a knife and fork takes away a lot of the psychological pleasure, turning what should be a satisfying experience into an unpleasant experience. Ditto for the 2nd choice.
                                            Was that more than 2 cents ?

                                            1. re: burger

                                              Call it 25 cents adjusted for inflation, quality of answer and the funny snarkiness of: If I at all cared , I'd start a thread "Someone explain how this place has stayed in business SO long?"

                                              1. re: burger

                                                I love Chili John's and I will tell you why. It tastes exactly the same as the chili dog that I used to eat at Papa John's on the corner of Hazeltine & Victory in the early 70's. This is where I fell in love with chili dogs and chili fries (and where I had it first). And biting into a CJ's chili dog transports me back to the time in my youth when anything is possible... that is my reason. AND it tastes good!

                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                  WAIT, is Chili John's that place that sells it with spaghetti - the place that is never open?? If that is the case, then I have to correct my above post. It is not Chili John's that I like but (is it) Larry's (west of Chili John's).

                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                    Chili Johns is the place in Burbank that is 'never open' during the summer (because they're on vacation for two or three months during the summer). I guess they figure " who wants to eat hot chili in their non-air-conditioned little diner during the fierce Burbank summers?" I sure wouldn't want to. They're also not open Sunday or Mondays year round.

                                                    It is unlike any of the chili I have had in the southwest, but for some fascinating reason I really like it. They serve beef, chicken & vegetarian chili with beans or on spaghetti or both, in various degrees of spiciness. They also have a couple of sloppy joe variations, chili dogs and tamales (odd, yes). It has some relation to the Chili John's in Green Bay, WI, since they mention it on their menu and in the restaurant. My guess is someone from the original family branched off. Anyway, here's the original location's website: http://chilijohns.com.

                                                    1. re: ozzygee

                                                      Thanks, Ozzy for the clarification. I have eaten Chili John's once (but had to take it home since I got there 20 minutes before closing) and did not eat it for a couple of days, so I cannot say for sure if it was good or not (I will need to try it again and eat in house). Larry's is the place whose chili dogs I like. Thanks again!!

                                            2. I agree with your opinion on Tommy's however, disagree regarding Pink's.

                                              1. As a flavor enhancer, nostalgia blows msg out of the water. (And it usually doesn't give you a headache latter on.)

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: David Kahn

                                                  You might or might not be kidding with your post, but FWIW, I think it's absolutely true.

                                                  I'm in my 40s, my mom close to 70 and there are still a few things she makes that I think are better than any I've had anywhere. My 90 year old gramma still makes the best french toast - at least to me.

                                                  As for the original post in this thread, I wouldn't even bother trying to convince someone else to like Tommy's. I rarely go there anymore because I and my heart aren't as young as we used to be, but I still enjoy their chiliburger. I don't even know if it's good - I just know I like it, it makes me happy.

                                                  1. re: PaulF

                                                    I've been tracking this thread with a lot of interest, since my wife, who hung out at Tommy's in her USC days, is always urging me to try the chiliburger there...and I have long suspected that her fond memories have added more flavor than any cook could, given the ingredients. OTOH, she LOVES the food at El Cholo, so it could be her taster that's off ;-)

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      Oh, of course, the nostalgia factor!! That unknown magic ingredient that makes sophisticated chowhounds lose their minds. So lets see, I am 18 again, out at 3:00 a.m. with my friends (too many heads in one car of course) drunk and/or high (the difference influenced the level of complete starvation) and I need something to eat. Someone excitedly suggests one or the other of the topic "restaurants" and wow we are in heaven, the best thing we have ever eaten. Really, the best food EVER. Fast forward 30 years and Lord have mercy, eating a Tommy's burger or a Pinks chili dog would I sincerely believe kill me on the spot. It was a long strange life trip from Tommy's on Rampart to a place where I sincerely prefer my last completely decadent meal of perfectly cooked giant shrimp over rich creamy unbelievable cheddar cheese grits at NOLA (one of Emeril's New Orleans restaurants) accompanied by a wonderful glass of wine. So I will just have to remember with fondness a time in the past when I could eat something so truly horrible as Tommy's or Pinks and be truly happy. Chow On!!

                                                  2. re: David Kahn

                                                    well put...nostalgia and MSG. bravo.

                                                  3. I've never liked chili on hamburgers or hotdogs, so I've never gotten the love for Tommys. I've been to Pinks a couple times for the polish dog and thought it was fine, nothing memorable. But then again, I don't get how anyone can rave about a measly hotdog :)

                                                    1. Don't forget about breakfast at Tommy's. The sausage, chili, cheese, fried egg, ontop of a buttered english muffin is the best. Especially if you get it from the OG Rampart location. Best breakfast sandwich ever.

                                                      1. 2nd date with future wife who is not from SoCal. We both had skipped lunch so we could get out of work on time for our concert date. Starving on the way to the club but running late we saw a Tommy's. She saw me light up and asked about it. After hesitantly explaining, she said let's try it.

                                                        She matches my standard order of double cheeseburger and chili fries. There we were on the outside picnic benches in the cold evening wearing nice work clothes. I'm sitting across from her and she's matching me bite for bite. Halfway through my burger I looked at her and thought, I love this woman.

                                                        Its not the food but what the food represents.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Jase

                                                          I have to agree with Jase and others. It's not about the burger. It's about the experience. When I was dating my husband, he told me he moved to California for two reasons: To be a rock and roll star (didn't happen), and for Tommy's Burgers. He took me to the Original Tommy's during one of our first dates, and we had a blast. Gotta love the chile-slathered burgers with beefsteak tomatoes and sliced pickles. But, its the waiting in the line getting served allegedly by the nicest ex-cons in LA, and the bathroom-style napkins needed to wipe every drip of chile off your chin that matters most. Sometimes foodies need to stop and think about food in context, not just the ingredients.
                                                          For more talk on fast food, see my blog at

                                                          http://www.myspace.com/fastfoodmaven

                                                          1. re: nancyluna

                                                            Me thinks those nice ex-cons on Rampart were the ones who graced the burgers with no-onions requests with a name a lady should never hear - but I am sure they yelled it out for all to hear, ladies or no ladies...

                                                            Agreed about what you say - thinking about food in context. Alot of places just have a certain mojo - embrace it... Hey - I'm not proud!

                                                        2. Tommys may not be the best chili burger around but on a cold rainy day it sure seems real good and when you can get a double chili cheese burger with extra chili and onions for $2.80? you know you are not being ripped off. Also their hot chili peppers are the best.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: malibumike

                                                            Unfortunately for Tommy's, there are not too many "cold rainy days" in Los Angeles.

                                                          2. Pink's sucks! The dogs outside Staples (no more for a while - rip) are sooooo much better.

                                                            1. I grew up not far from Pink's and used to go there and to Tommy's starting about 40 years ago. They were fun and funky, but neither was a big deal -- they were just two (of many) places to go in L.A. for a sloppy chili dog or burger.

                                                              For whatever reason, both places, largely by having survived so long, became famous and developed cachets of sorts. So people started going there because they were "cool" and not simply because they were just two joints offering sloppy chili dogs and burgers.

                                                              Now, I think, a lot of people go there ONLY because they are cool and DESPITE the fact that they offer sloppy chili dogs and burgers (in about a thousand variations).

                                                              It's sort of like why people still flock to see, and pay enormous prices to do so, the Rolling Stones, even though these folks weren't around when the Stones made their best music and really "mattered."

                                                              I still occasionally go to Pink's or Tommy's, and attend an occasional Stones concert, but do so only with an old friend or two with whom I can share fond memories.

                                                              1. The only good use for Tommy's chili is on an In-N-Out burger.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: ozzygee

                                                                  Re: Tommy's burgers:
                                                                  Yes, they're sloppy.
                                                                  Yes, they're slightly nasty/raunchy.
                                                                  Yes, they're NOT gourmet.
                                                                  BUT --
                                                                  There's some times when I get a craving, and NOTHING ELSE WILL DO.
                                                                  And I agree about the chiles - absolutely necessary for the ultimate gut-bomb effect.
                                                                  Whoo-hoo!!!!!

                                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                                    It's bizarre that anyone would want to bother deconstructing a Tommy's burger or a Pink's dog. It's the whole package that counts. Of course the chili is lousy and the patties are feeble, the tomatoes on a Tommy's burger are by and large mealy, tasteless things, they aren't the best pickles, they use basic yellow mustard.

                                                                    SO WHAT?

                                                                    It's the blend of flavors that adds up to a lot more than the sum of the parts. Not to mention that Tommy's - at least the original location - at about 2:30 -3am after the bars close - is a very entertaining scene. I don't eat these things nearly as much as I used to when I was a stoned teenager, but every now and then it's just the right thing.

                                                                    1. re: aurora50

                                                                      Agreed... this is a post that died a long time ago and I've already responded too... but you don't know how many times I've had to white knuckle it past a Tommys... because nothing can duplicate that wonderful taste...

                                                                      --Dommy!

                                                                      1. re: Dommy

                                                                        Because we aren't gourmets, we aren't gourmands, we aren't foodies, we're *CHOWHOUNDS*! (Raucous applause, yelling and stomping.)

                                                                        ...and only a Chowhound would find himself/herself waking up dreaming of something like a fried bologna sandwich, a hardshell taco with canned chili and cheese dumped on it, or a burger that tastes exactly like something he/she ate at 4am after a night of beer, rock'n'roll and too many cigarettes. Ask me how I know that...

                                                                  2. I know that this is an older posting, but one thing I notice that I may have overlooked, but did not see mentioned is that there are few options for late nite eats. I know that there are more nowadays, but back when they were first gaining in on their popularity, they were one of the few. Plus cheap and fast.

                                                                    1. I haven't been to Pink's since I realized the way they keep a long line formed in the front of the stand is to slow down production of the food. Nonetheless, I do like their chili dogs. They use the Hoffy NC7 (natural casing 7") wiener which gives the hot dog that distinctive "crunch" when you take a bite. Top a simple chili dog with some onions, an Orange Crush (in a vintage-style bottle), a few yellow chili peppers and it somehow magically works--especially past midnight.

                                                                      When I feel like eating a really good hot dog, I go to the movie theatre at The Grove. I know it sounds weird but check it out yourself and let me know if you agree or not.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Glennn

                                                                        Sorry guys, I just realized I was responding to an old thread!! : ( But it's weird, it just appeared on the Board like it was new --! Oh well, I'm having fun anyway.

                                                                      2. Have YOU ever had a Tommy burger without the chili? Not many do, but I have and the burgers are GOOD. And as for the chili ... name a place that makes a better chili.
                                                                        Tommy's is THE place for one reason, they are the BEST at what they do. And they have been doing it for a long time.
                                                                        Pinks didn't HAVE the wild toppings until they started hiring people from Central and South America. They had NO limitations to all the strange food combinations here in America and stumble upon quite a few. It gives Pink an atmosphere that no one else can match. The dogs are good but I would stay away from the chili after the sun sets.
                                                                        It's DANGEROUS!

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: nrique

                                                                          Surprisingly, nobody mentions Fatburger. Their double king (char-broiled and on the rare side by request) with cheese, onion, mayo and a slightly better chili than Tommy's is as good as junk food gets. Tommy's and In-&-Out tie for 2nd place. Never had Pinks.

                                                                          1. re: robwein

                                                                            I love Fatburger burgers, but my problem is with the price. What you described is about an $8 burger. A combination with basic burger, fries, and a drink hits $10.

                                                                            1. re: Jwsel

                                                                              You're right about the price; and the darn thing weighs a ton and can get as messy as Tommies. The problem with both of them is that the melted cheese and chili makes everything slide out from between the bun and onto the wrapping.

                                                                              1. re: Jwsel

                                                                                I used to eat at Fatburger all the time. Then went again a few years ago. Not as good as I remembered it... maybe they changed, or maybe I have. Either way, Tommy's is the place we went after prom, football games, parties, first dates, you name it. Yes, my stomach responds to it differently these days, but I still love the chili cheese fries, ccdogs and burgers every once in a while. I love Pink's chili cheese fries (well done) and chili dogs. Pure nostalgia!

                                                                              2. re: robwein

                                                                                Fatburger is the best! Gotta get it with the egg! I would trade In-'N-Out for Fatburger up here in the Bay Area in a heartbeat (well, maybe if INO didn't make those delicious 700 calorie milkshakes).

                                                                                I think both Tommy's and Pink's are great. It's all about the chili! That thick, hearty, artery-clogging goup with its oddly appealing mellow flavor. The first time you eat it, there's nothing super about it, but then from time to time you find yourself craving it! At least I do.

                                                                                For chili dogs, I'd give the nods to Pink's over Tommy's. The dogs are smaller and have a nice snap (remind me of Casper's over here), the bun is softer and fluffier, and the chili is a little thicker with less grease (no orange pool on top). Not worth the wait if you have any concerns over time or are starving, but fun for a late night outing! I had it for the first and only time last month on a whim at 2 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING there was still a half hour wait! I do like the tomato slices that top Tommy's dogs.

                                                                                IMHO the real reason to go to Tommy's is the chili cheese fries.

                                                                                Having lived in Berkeley for 7 years or so, I never understood the hype surrounding Top Dog. You can find those kinds of artisan sausages anywhere, and the condiments are weak -- except for the sweet and hot Beaver Russian mustard, that stuff is gold! But you can find that in the super market. The dogs and buns, which are also of a rather generic roll type, are grilled on a griddle. Big deal. I still live nearby in Emeryville and probably haven't been there in over a year, maybe two. Don't get me wrong, I like Top Dog, but it's far from unique. I will say this, however: it's the best thing in the world when you're a sloppily drunk college kid stumbling home from the bars (or more likely, to somebody's apartment for an afterparty)!

                                                                                1. re: kimchee411

                                                                                  At least part of that "Orange Pool" that you speak of on Tommy's chili is do to the finely chopped'cooked carrots that goes into their recipe, I have made it at home from an extensive recipe and it is exactly the same.

                                                                                  1. re: malibumike

                                                                                    Care to share that recipe? I'm sure plenty of Tommy's/Pink's fans would love to have it!

                                                                                    1. re: kimchee411

                                                                                      Just a quick request -- if you do share the recipe (and that'd be much appreciated, we're sure!) please start a new thread on our Home Cooking board. You can link it here so people in LA can find it, but we try to keep recipe discussion all on that board. Thanks!

                                                                            2. I go to Tommy’s for the best Breakfast sandwich anyplace. English muffin, sausage, egg, cheese, chilli, onions, pickles, tomato, mayo. Need a bib and spoon – OMG!

                                                                              An extremely cold night in the Outback of Australia is called a “Three dog night.” Dig a hole in the ground and get inside with three dogs to keep you warm. In L.A. we have Pinks. Try Pink’s “Three Dog Night..” A really big flour tortilla, three dogs, three cheese, three slices of bacon with chilli and onions. It warms my hart in hot or cold weather.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Like go grinz

                                                                                Went to Tommy's on Rampart once, about 30 years ago -- didn't really get it, but it wasn't my thing. Good greaseburger, but yellow mustard and too much moisture (Carl's Jr. a lame rip-off?), whatever, didn't enhance the chili burger IMO. It was mostly about the scene, eating in the parking lot, standing there in the dark breathing the exhaust with the burger dripping down your wrist ... LA ... I respected it for what it was -- a temple -- same trip, I actually enjoyed a bogus Tommy burger in Silverlake far more, not to mention the Hollenbeck at El Tepeyac -- I've lived in AZ now for 24 years, so I've seen some nice burritos (burros) since then ... I'm from southern CT so I've worshipped at the altar of other temples, where the offerings were ... pizza ... or ... dogs ...

                                                                                I've never tried Pink's, but I see where the boys from HBO's Entourage, boys from Queens, were on line there -- cute.

                                                                                1. re: misohungrychewlow

                                                                                  For a chilli dog in L.A. the place is Carney's. I only go to Tommy's and Pink's for the special items thagt Carney's does not offer --- but should.

                                                                                  http://www.carneytrain.com/

                                                                              2. I've only had Tommy's once, and I'll never go back. Never had Pink's, and never will.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: MrJodie

                                                                                  Why not try Pink's?

                                                                                2. I started going to Tommy's back in the late '60s while at USC when there was only the Beverly and Rampart location. There was always a line then. I went once at 4:00 a.m. to avoid the crowds and ran into a big line of catering trucks. I used to buy the nostalgia argument but I introduced Tommy's to my wife who went to college in Texas and she demands a Tommy Burger every time we are in LA. She loves the chorizo chili. Like everyone else, she was sort of shocked the first time but by the second round she was hooked. I've taken my mother, also my father and mother in laws, who hated the way the chili oozed out all over the place. However, they ate every bite. Our last Tommy Burger was Christmas day (they're always open) and we're feeling pains of withdrawal.

                                                                                  1. I've never found anything that i really enjoyed ,that wasn't deadly ,illegal immoral,fattening,or otherwise frowned upon by society, the Tommy's burgers cover at least 3 of these in one shot :)

                                                                                    1. Had to weigh in on this. Lived in LA many years ago and discovered Tommy's. Used to eat at the original location for lunch in my suit and tie standing in the parking lot. Always had to change my tie back at the office after eating at Tommy's. Live in the Midwest now and would LOVE to be able to run down the street for the greatest chili burger I've ever had.

                                                                                      1. I agree that Pinks is horrible and while Silence may have it right as to why one wants to eat a greasy burger or a hotdog, I don't think Pinks does a hotdog justice. I'd much prefer the dogs at papaya king or gray's papaya if only there were one here.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: joshekg

                                                                                          not i. somehow i never understood how anyone could like either of the papaya nyc places.

                                                                                          i assume people look for different things in a bite

                                                                                          1. re: epop

                                                                                            It's hard not to like it at that price point.
                                                                                            Although you're getting exactly what you paid for. Not much.

                                                                                        2. Speaking of L.A. hamburger places, do any of you remember Pop's, a tiny stand at the SW corner of Olympic and La Brea? It was a great favorite during the 60's. I went there all the time with my friends on our bikes, and my parents would go there too. Chili dogs and burgers. I liked it a lot better than Tommy's and Pink's, plus it was five minutes from where I lived. Sadly, it lost all its charm when it moved to the other side of La Brea and moved into a modern, plastic-y building.

                                                                                          1. You're right....they both suck! I don't know a great hot dog joint, but I still love Fatburger!

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Debette

                                                                                              Garbage food has its place. Pinks and Tommy's satisfy that late night, "I'm drunk and starving" urge -- as does Del Taco.

                                                                                              I'll only hit Pinks when it's raining -- that laboriously slow line kills it for me. Try it when the weather takes a turn for the wet, there's usually no one there. LOL.

                                                                                              1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                                                Nice tip, thanks!

                                                                                                1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                                                  So let's see, that day it rains in November and those other two days it rains in February in Los Angeles. I'm marking my calendar ;-) See ya there!

                                                                                                  1. re: silence9

                                                                                                    or get a time machine and come back any day between Jan 1 and June 1 of 2005. Be careful not to tet caught in any mudslides ;-)

                                                                                                    http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/printthrea...

                                                                                              2. And you just moved here how many months ago?

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                                                                                  Me? Been here since 1980. During an El Nino winter, I put on a little weight. Last year, I never had a chance to eat at Pinks because it rained about twice. Pray for some rain this winter -- our local trout (in the San Gabriels, San Berdoo's and the mountains of Ventura County) need it.

                                                                                                  1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                                                    I was asking the original poster, who sounds like a narrow-minded NY newb.

                                                                                                2. I lost my liking for Pink's when the lines started getting long. I like their dogs though.

                                                                                                  Tommy's has an OK dog but they don't offer kraut.

                                                                                                  My first choice is Carney's.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: 2chez mike

                                                                                                    Carney's is definitely good - I like it a lot! But I have never had chili cheese fries the likes of Pink's! Although I get down there about once every few years - my mouth is currently watering!

                                                                                                  2. My goodness (or other appropriate expletive) -
                                                                                                    don't get it?
                                                                                                    What's to get? Who ever said these were the best?
                                                                                                    One goes to Tommy's or Pink's for the whole experience and as part of an ongoing llifelong relationship. If you're a transplant - good luck.
                                                                                                    I remember getting a hot dog at Pinks at the age of five - my cousins lived on Sycamore so we could walk over. The fun of Tommy's late at night when you're a teenager is partly being somewhere way late atnight. As well, the whole city goes to Tommy's (rampart and beverly) - people from every ethnic and economic group go there without a sense of dread or fear. It's great for people watching and at two am, the chili size (or their approximation of it) is fine.

                                                                                                    There are better hot dogs, better burgers, better whatever. But the combination of ambience, greasy food, festive atmosphere, and clientele make them what they are. Don't get them? great. Move on. No one here is under any obligation to get anyth9ng.

                                                                                                    I don't get Korean-Chinese Zhajiang mian - the standard chinese version is more to my taste. I don't get the attitude at Melisse, which has fantastic food but an atmosphere of inner sanctum where the server is a hierophant explaining the sacred arcana.

                                                                                                    I don't get why I can't find a nice Piemontese or Bordelais/Landais restaurant in town. There are enough people who've traveled that would appreciate it. Frankly, I don't get why there aren't more French places specializing in Regional (except provencal read provencal italian california fusion) cuisines.

                                                                                                    I also don't get the whole "new york" chinese conflation with 1940's nationwide cantonese-american "export" food, or with the 80's pan-chinese "hunan" fads - and the deep desire for it. I can respect it, I can appreciate it, but deep down I don't get it.

                                                                                                    Another thing transplants might not get is the whole nostalgic charm of a corn dog be it from "hot dog on a stick" on the pier, on any pier, or an ice-cold date shake on a summer day, or (if it could be found) real California wood-pit bbq or (you'd have to really look) a pounded breaded abalone steak.

                                                                                                    Enjoy the boysenberry pie.

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Jerome

                                                                                                      Hi Jerome, I missed you! ;-)

                                                                                                      1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                        HI Lisa!!!!

                                                                                                        I still have to organize the fuzhou "buddha jumps over the wall" dinner.

                                                                                                        Lutefisk is tasty.

                                                                                                        1. re: Jerome

                                                                                                          Sounds great - will be there with bells on!! Lutefisk is in November - and we will be there if you want to join us. I will post on it closer to the date.
                                                                                                          ;-)
                                                                                                          Take care!

                                                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                            For that "crunchy" rubbery hot-dog sensation, nothing beat CUPID's, at least the ones at their long-gone Van Nuys location.

                                                                                                            Why I felt compelled to post this, I don't know.

                                                                                                            1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                                                              CUPID's is MY ALLTIME FAVORITE!!! Every time I am in the valley this is the place I go (and I get several to go - and have them triple-wrapped!). Nothing is better than their Original - chili, onions and mustard. Damn, now my mouth really IS watering!!
                                                                                                              The one on Lindley just south of Nordhoff is still there as well as the one on Vanowen just east of Corbin. YUM!!! ;-)

                                                                                                              1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                if we're waxing nostalgic, then

                                                                                                                The Dog House.

                                                                                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                  Just came across this post...I used to work in Woodland Hills and we would make a Cupid's run at lunch now and then. I haven't had one in 20 years, but DAY-AM, they were GOOD! Made my mouth water...thanks for the memory!

                                                                                                          2. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                            Me too.

                                                                                                        2. Okay, so yesterday after I was reading this post I got a hankerin' for Tommy's. So on my lunch hour, I drove to the Eagle Rock location. Ordered my chili cheese fries (extra well done - although they never come out that way) and a hot dog. However, this time I changed it from the usual which is chili/cheese dog to just the dog with mustard and onions. I have got to say, that is one good dog!! I guess I have never actually tasted the dog, since I usually have it smothered in chili and onions. The dog was juicy and wonderfully flavored. I was impressed. They use a company that starts with a "C" (I made a note of it and was going to remember, but don't). From now on, I will be ordering the dogs with just mustard and onions. I was really impressed.

                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                            Weiner Factory-best dogs and polish's I have ever had. Try it with red cabbage, onion and mustard or slaw, cheese, and onion with no mustard and then report back.

                                                                                                            1. re: SIMIHOUND

                                                                                                              Every time I drive by, the place is closed! I keep trying, I swear!! Although, I really am not in that neck of the woods too often. ;-)

                                                                                                              1. re: SIMIHOUND

                                                                                                                Iisn't wienier factory closed for good? I thught it had been closed if not over a year, then almost a year...

                                                                                                                1. re: Diana

                                                                                                                  Diana, WF is still alive and kicking. I picked up my usual (turkey dog, chili, mustard, onions, or in their lingo "Tom, MCO") last Saturday.

                                                                                                                  And, they won't be closing anytime soon as the property owner has (at least for the time being) his inane attempt to put a Pinkberry yogurt in WF's (and Valley Liquor's) place. Found out all the details from WF's owner, Kevin, and his wife Sheri (sweet as a doll!).

                                                                                                                  I know I would not be alone in being very depressed if they ever closed....

                                                                                                                  1. re: GK in SO

                                                                                                                    Cool!

                                                                                                                    Too bad Dawn got fed up with the owner (who is the son of the old owner) and left Valley Beverage. She now manages Liquid Spirits in Chatsworth..near Woodlands.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Diana

                                                                                                                      I partake of the peculiar glory that is Weiner Factory a couple times a month. As tantalizing as the red cabbage sounded, in my opinion, it works better on paper. Love the WF chili-dogs (should post this on the chili-dog thread) and I absolutely crave their German potato salad.

                                                                                                                      I spoke with someone there a couple of weeks ago regarding the Pinkberry's debacle and they, too, pooh-poo'd the idea. Thank gawd. That's almost as barbaric as replacing Irv's Burgers in WHWD with yet another Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Thank Allah the community rallied around Sonja and Irv's....

                                                                                                                    2. re: GK in SO

                                                                                                                      If WF closed in Sherman Oaks he would reopen in Woodland Hills. This was the plan when he was going to close up. He knows he has got a great thing going with many loyal devotees.

                                                                                                                2. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                  Cantella's. That's for you waaay up there, WildSwede.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kiwi

                                                                                                                    Yay! Thanks, Kiwi!! ;-)

                                                                                                                  2. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                    Hi WildSwede,

                                                                                                                    I have a little trick when I oder a hot dog (it's rare cuz I always want some chili chesse fries and I don't always want to eat that much and when it's in front of me, I'll eat it all)...
                                                                                                                    1. I order a hot dog with only ketchup and mustard.
                                                                                                                    2. I order chili cheese fries with the chili and cheese on the side,
                                                                                                                    Reasons:
                                                                                                                    1. I like one or two bites of the dog without chili (for the same reasons you noticed on your naked dog) and then I want a little chili (call me flavor-fickle).
                                                                                                                    2. I love the chili cheese fries but if the chili is on top, it's too messy, they get mushy and it's just a pain in my a...
                                                                                                                    3. Sometimes I just want to get home and if you keep it all separate, it travels better and the chili reheats perfectly in a ramikin.

                                                                                                                    Hmm, guess what I'm having for lunch...Eagle Rock location too...if I don't wind up going to friggin' Larkins for that Meatloaf Sandwhich which has become my spicey craving lately.

                                                                                                                    1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                                                                                      Nice MO! I will have to try that. Thanks! After Tommy's I went across the street to the Italian Bakery and got some delicious pistacio cookies and pine nut cookies (not to mention cannoli's and a variety of other cookies which are still sitting on my counter). They are really good!!

                                                                                                                      1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                        Those cookies sound amazing...perfect way to finish up a guilty plesures lunch.
                                                                                                                        Do they take CC or is it a Cash only place?

                                                                                                                        1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                                                                                          Definitely took ccs - that's how I paid!! Also try the white chocolate ones with almonds and corn flakes - really good!! ;-)

                                                                                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                            Check back around 3pm and I'll tell you what I got...I can't wait.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                                                                                              will do! ;-)

                                                                                                                              1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                                Hiya WildeSwede,
                                                                                                                                Well, I managed to skip Tommy's and went to Izayoi for my Bento Box instead..I DID go to the bakery and uh oh...
                                                                                                                                Those cookies didn't travel very well...I ate 3 before I even got home!
                                                                                                                                Holy Cow! So yummy. Thanks so much for the suggestion!
                                                                                                                                I was expecting to pay a ton..I ordered 2 of each cookie they had and it didn't even come to $5...can't wait to try the pasteries.
                                                                                                                                It made me feel even better when I left and saw Tommys smiling back at me knowing that I had resisted its nasty filthy greasy goodness...but then those cookies!
                                                                                                                                Thanks again!

                                                                                                                                1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                                                                                                  Hi Tater! Glad you liked them - they are really good! ;-) Yes, Tomy's will be waiting when you are ready for the greasebomb! Have a great weekend. Off to Taqueria Sanchez for me tonight and Wat Thai tomorrow, maybe Ethiopian tomorrow night, Big Mike's in San Pedro for brunch on Sunday and Tito's (my first time!!) for dinner on Sunday. Damn, I am full just thinking about it!! Take care!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                                    I thought Big Mike's in San Pedro closed?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                      Hehe! Apparently it did. We got down there and could not find it!!
                                                                                                                                      ;-) Ended up at Gaffey Street Grill.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                                        how was it? What did you have?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Diana

                                                                                                                                          I had the Chicken Fried Steak. I was not impressed. It was soggy (they put the gravy under, so the thin breading was soggy and coming off of the meat - I am not sure if they normally do this, or if it was because I ordered extra gravy (this came in a small bowl on the side - the top of the CFS was served dry) and had no flavor, although the meat itself was tender. The country gravy was equally flavorless (albeit the pieces of sausage in it). However, the salsa that was on the table had a great kick to it and once I slathered it all over, also added salt & pepper. The home fries, cooked well done were good. My friend got the breakfast burrito which she enjoyed. I would go back and try the Eggs Benedict. Service was friendly.

                                                                                                                  3. At Tommy's, you get a double cheeseburger. It totally changes the proportions in their favor. I can't say I remember what Dennison's chili tastes like, all I know is that Tommy's does good tamale style chili. It could definitely use a touch more spice, but it does the job for me. As someone else mentioned, you'd never eat a bowl of it, but it is a great topping.

                                                                                                                    Now Pinks I can not defend and will not try.

                                                                                                                    1. I love Pinks because I hate chili and Pinks chili in no way resembles real chili.
                                                                                                                      I no longer eat there because of the lines. I miss it but my arteries thank me every time I keep driving past that place.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: blipontheradar

                                                                                                                        oki dog chili is far supreme

                                                                                                                      2. Tradition.

                                                                                                                        If you're an LA/SoCal native or have spent a significant amount of time here, you'll understand.

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Kris P Pata

                                                                                                                          I have been here for over 20 years, and I don't get it. Pinks seems mor of a tourist thing than a native thing, to me.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Kris P Pata

                                                                                                                            Nope, native LA-er does not understand. Definitely a tourist thing.

                                                                                                                            1. re: kiwi

                                                                                                                              what high school?
                                                                                                                              I say pink's is a Hollywood/Fairfax/North hollywood kinda thing.
                                                                                                                              maybe marshall as well.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jerome

                                                                                                                                Dad went to Fairfax, mom went to Uni, sister went to North Hollywood, I went to Van Nuys. It has kitsch factor but doesn't do it for me as a source of tasty food, just pain.

                                                                                                                          2. I was at the recent Ventura County Fair and Pinks was there, I ordered a Pinks chilli dog, IMHO tommy's is a much better chilli dog than pinks, more flavor and better value.

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: malibumike

                                                                                                                              I had the Pink's dog at the LA County Fair a couple of years ago and I do not think that it comes out the same as it does at the hut.

                                                                                                                              1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                                Yup, I also remember seeing Pink's dogs for sale at a movie theatre chain a few years back. Like sex in a bath tub, it's a nice concept, but doesn't really work. Location, location, location...

                                                                                                                                1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                  Love that metaphor!! ; )

                                                                                                                                  1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                                    ;-) Yeah, some of the Pacific Theatres (the one where the Winnetka drive-in used to be in the valley) and the one in Paseo Colorado in Pasadena offer them as well.

                                                                                                                              2. My fascination with Tommy's is scrapping the chili off the yellow wrapping paper with my fork. Then eating it! The chili on the paper tasted better then the chili in my burger. I don't frequent Tommy's like I use to back in my high school days, but every now and then I'll get Tommy's in hopes of quick relief for a really bad hang over.

                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: jocey

                                                                                                                                  Especially if there is some cheese, there, too!! ;-) You are absolutely correct - why is that??!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: WildSwede

                                                                                                                                    Yes! Melted cheese and chilli on yellow wrapper. The yellow wrapper enhances the flavor of the two giving it the perfect balance for our tastebuds. No jp. I have no idea why that is.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: jocey

                                                                                                                                      Must be! ;-)

                                                                                                                                2. Simply put, fat tastes good.

                                                                                                                                  1. Tommy's and Pinks are institutions. It's about bringing neighborhoods together back in the day. It's about those high school days. As long as there are distinct neighborhoods and an L.A. High School dance somewhere, there will always be Pinks and Tommy's!

                                                                                                                                    1. Drink ALOT of alcohol one night....... Wake up.... and when you can't even think about eating anything... get a tommy's chili cheeseburger and chilicheese fries... you will then realize why they are AMAZING!

                                                                                                                                      1. Tommy's is okay. I'm not really a fan of theirs but I go there once or twice a year. Now to Pinks, now that place is very overrated. You stand in line forever for average tasting food. Sure they have special creations like the Guadalajara Dog, but big deal. You can go about any hot dog stand and tell them what you want in it and make your own creation. The dogs there are no special thing and the chili is no special thing. It's just hype and the thing to do. There is a place in Alhambra, that's east side on Los Angeles for you west side types, called Top's Junior. They have the best, the absolute best chili there. Go there if you dare, it's not hyped and not super fancy, you might consider it a dive but the chili dogs and chili fries are the best. Don't worry it's not a dive, it's not like Oki Dog. It's safe and clean but just old school. Something you'd see on American Graffitti or something like that. It's on Main St, east of Fremont in Alhambra on the north side of the street.

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                                                                                          What's the address of this Top's Junior? I'm just 5 minutes away from Alhambra and would like to check it out.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: nrique

                                                                                                                                            http://www.yellowpages.com/name/Alham...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: nrique

                                                                                                                                              Tops Junior
                                                                                                                                              (626) 281-5693
                                                                                                                                              2407 W Main St
                                                                                                                                              Alhambra, CA

                                                                                                                                              1. re: HoundDogz

                                                                                                                                                Tops Junior ain't bad. I like the dog at The Hat on Valley and Garfield myself.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: HoundDogz

                                                                                                                                              if you don't understand these places, you're missing part of L.A.
                                                                                                                                              I DO have Tommy's chili on its own; it's great with cheese and pickles!. Pink's isn't a hot dog stand, it's a poem about how we came to this place on the edge of the New World and remade the world as we knew it.
                                                                                                                                              Oki Dog was okay 15 years ago. It now smells like urinal cake.

                                                                                                                                            3. Update on Tommy's dog. Just had one at the Hollywood/Bronson location about a month ago. Never a fan of Tommy's dogs but this time this time bun was stale and dog was washed out(like it was sitting in the water too long). Never again.

                                                                                                                                              1. And you never will. It's just one of those things. Maybe you should lighten up a bit and take it for face value. Although I agree with Pink's, I'd say you are missing the point with Tommy's.

                                                                                                                                                1. I am a fancier of local favorite junk foods: chili in Cincinnati, cheese steaks in Philadelphia, barbeque in Memphis or Kansas City, Coneys or Olga's in Detroit, etc. I'm far from a food snob, and grease makes me smile (for a while). But I have to say that I've never found a sadder local favorite than the two discussed here. It is surely a triumph of nostalgia over sensory input that anyone can harbor a fondness for them. Maybe it's because I'm a relative newcomer, only having lived here for 39 years after a couple of decades elsewhere. Maybe at this time next year I'll suddenly have an epiphany, suddenly discovering what others see in those two dishes of sorry vileness, and that time I'll eat my words. And believe me, words would be far tastier than anything at Tommy's or Pink's. Until then, make mine a double king chili cheese from the Fatburger, or the singular quesadilla from Burrito King, or almost anything else in this fine city, and let the pilgrims crowd up to the Pink and the Tommy to take their woeful sacrament.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: farmertomato

                                                                                                                                                    Went to Carneys on Ventura Blvd last night and had two of their spicy Polish. Not as good as the (now closed) Wiener Factory but totally serviceable. Pinks & Tommys I could live without...