Skooby's: our first time...
- silence9 Feb 13, 2006 11:45 AM
Hi... As an unabashed fan of both In 'n Out's imperfectly inconsistent french fries and Pink's much loathed spawn-of-satan chili dog , it was finally time to compare them to Skooby's renditions of fries and dogs. So we headed down to that stretch Hollywood blvd. where the trashy lingerie emporiums outnumber the headshops 3-to-1... Skooby's is much smaller and louder than I expected, so you better love yer punk rock. A matching set of petite Gabba Gabba Hey girls were manning the the fryers and lemon squeezers, and their surly-as-sandpaper demeanor is perfectly suited to the dubious ilk such as I that roam the boulevard with that faraway look of the depraved hunger that will not be sated. My Valentine date for life (wife) and I both ordered chili cheddar dogs, fries, and lemonades. The freshly squeezed lemonade is good, albeit sweeter than expected. The chili cheddar dogs were large and just fine. The dog's meat is flavorful, with barely a faint (to me) snap to the exterior, speaking more of the method of cooking than to the casing's inherent elasticity. The dog *tastes* good, on its own. The bun is a bit oversized, but sturdy and well suited to handle the chili and condiments; if it had been toasted, it would have been spot on perfect. As for the chili, better than Pink's and not as good as my own, and though sparingly applied, well flavored. And lastly, the fries: on a humid 85 degree Sunday afternoon, we found the freshly cut and double-fried potatoes to be nicely dark in hue and cooked throughout, but alas a bit limp. They were unmistakably twice-fried, yet nowhere near *crispy*. A thicker cut than In 'n Out's, but altogether serviceable. And they come sided with a good unfussy aioli. Price for two chili cheddar dogs, two orders of fries, and two lemonades: $15 exactly... Skooby's menu is lean, mean and unambiguous, the better to handle the no-nonsense clientele craving a gritty culinary indulgence to better brace themselves for the gauntlet of clipboard-wielding acolytes of L. Ron Hubbard trolling the pavement mere feet away. Greasy lips and mustard stains are a great talisman to ward of even the staunchest zombies, by the way...
When characterizing hot dogs, I have always felt that there is really very little to distinguish one dog from another.
It is usually the preparation that defines the character of the dog itself. (steamed, boiled, grilled, char grilled, etc.) Note I am not discussing toppings here, as I am from "back east" where dogs need only a little Guldens and, maybe, a smidge of sauerkraut.
This is why I find LA CH's general disdain for Pink's confusing. A Pinks dog has characteristics that are pretty unique in the hot dog universe-- the unapologetic snappy skin and juicy pop makes the dog itself stand out from most other competition (yes I know there are a few others like Vienna, but I'm talking about big picture here, not the few exceptions)
Skooby's is fine, but the lack of snappy skin and juicy pop downgrades it for me. (Note again that I am not discussing chili or other blasphemous toppings!)
re: Mr. Taster
Skoobys and the Stand have dogs with very thin, more delicate casings. They have to be hot out of the steamer to snap properly. The physics of it is that the heat inside the casing builds up pressure. When you bite into the dog, it snaps and squirts juices in your mouth, filling it with the taste of hot dog. A thinner casing means that the heat dissipates faster, so the time from steamer to mouth needs to be shorter. This is no problem at either of those places because they get the dogs to you quick.
While I really like the Skoobys and Stand, there's no denying that the best dogmeat in town is at Carney's. I was there last night, and their weiners can't be bested. It snaps, it squirts and the spices are absolutely perfect. Compared to the low grade Hoffys at Pinks, it's like night and day.
re: Steve Doggie-Dogg
I never seem to be able to get to Skooby's to even try their hot dogs. Finally, in the last couple of weeks I tried to sample their product, only to find they cut their hours from 11am-7pm. The website still says 11am-10pm, but I e-mailed them and the website hasn't been updated. I guess it's time to try Carney's. Oddly enough the few times I've been at Carney's I ate everything BUT the dogs.
Great description of Skooby's (my only other hot dog contender in town is Pink's, and that's only if I feel like having a grotesque amount of toppings and can overlook inevitable long lines) -- too bad about the limpy fries though, the ones I had were crisp & delish.
Skooby's is great. I love the simplicity. I've hung out there during happy hour on a Friday and it was low key with cool music. The decor is cool; it looks as if someone raided a college radio station (circa 1986) and threw some LP jackets on the walls.
The grub is good but they also have quality hand crafted beers/ales on tap. During happy hour, I think it's 2 pints for 5 or 6 bucks or something. Or was it 3 for something? I'm fuzzy on the details but it was a good deal. Watch out for the Arrogant Bastard Ale. It's good but it is complete fire water. Two will knock the average person on their ass. Caution.
Very laid back place for having a few with a co-worker or friend with The Jam or The Clash blaring in the background. And the surfer kids that work there are polite.
I recently went to Pink's before the Jamie T. concert at the Troubadour. I hadn't been in a long time, we had time to kill, and the line was long. Why not reconnect with the L.A. legend? I remembered enjoying Pink's a lot.
Oooh... Not good. I mean, it wasn't bad exactly, but it was just so unremarkable. The chili could have come from a can, the cheese was just processed American stuff, the fries were those "zesty" fries one can get in the freezer case at Ralph's, and the hot dogs even seemed rather anonymous, lost under all the superfluous stuff on top. I thought to myself, I could make this at home - better. I also thought, Tommy's is better than this, especially the chili cheese fries.
But mostly I thought, Skooby's kicks Pink's to the curb.
The weiner itself is better, the chili much more distinctive - chunkier, spicier - the cheese at Skooby's is real shredded cheddar, the bun is a toothy French roll, and the fries are real potatoes seasoned fresh to order. Wow. Yes, the fries tend to be a bit soggy, but I'm the guy who lets his McDonald's fries sit around if they come out fresh and crisp from the fryer to go limp, so I'm not complaining. And those chips mixed in made from the heels of the spud are an extra treat!
I think Skooby's is like the slow food version of Pink's, with all the care and attention put into each chili dog that Pink's has sacrificed instead to make specialty hot dogs in honor of Rosie O'Donnell, Huell Howser, Ozzy Osborne, and the Today Show crew. (And make sure you get a t-shirt!) After eating Skooby's, I really can't enjoy Pink's as I once did. Skooby's is the real deal, the best chili dog in L.A.
Skooby's is a much better hot dog than Pink's. As someone who grew up here, the crazy lines at Pink's is a fairly recent phenomenon. I think they got a really good publicist and most of the people in line are tourists. The chili dog and the spicy polish are decent. Fries? That is another relatively recent addition and they weren't very good back then (haven't had recently).
My wife doesn't like hot dogs at all, but she likes Skooby's. The fact that it is close to the American Cinematheque (one of our favorite places) is a plus. If I had someone in from out of town, I would take them to Skooby's (In & Out for a burger), which to me is a good Hollywood/LA experience.