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Great Chilidogs

I love a good chilidog.....I live in South OC (San Clemente), and I don't mind driving, so anyone know of a great place to get a chilidog n fries? Only place Ive been to is Der Weinerschnitzel. And you know, they're good in a pinch, but I'm looking for GREAT!!.....Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

Andrew in OC

2205 W Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92868

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      1. re: azsparky

        It may not be mentioned on that link, since it recently opened, but Coney Dog on Sunset, has been getting good reviews. You can drive about a mile east of Coney Dog and try a chili dog at Carney's.

        1. re: reality check

          quality of meat and chili is very poor,other than that the drinks,atmosphere and service are ok

    1. Portillo's, two blocks east of Knott's Berry Farm has very good Chicago style chili dogs and great Italian beef sandwiches.

      Also closer to you The Original Tommy's has a location in Lake Forest at
      24310 Swartz Dr.

      The Hat also has a location in Lake Forest at
      23641 Rockfield Blvd. and you can try their Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries.

      Portillo's Hot Dogs
      8390 La Palma Ave, Buena Park, CA 90620

      6 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        What is "Chicago style" chili dogs? When I think of chili, Chicago isn't the city that comes to mind.

        1. re: reality check

          They are a Chicago chain that imports Vienna Hot Dogs, if you want they have Chicago style green relish and sport peppers and a great Italian Beef Sandwich.

          1. re: wienermobile

            That's a Chicago style HOT DOG. Not a Chicago style chili dog.

            1. re: reality check

              They add chili to it if that's they way you want it. So I'll say a Chicago Dog with chili instead of a Chicago style chili dog. Basically, anything made with vienna beef is a Chicago dog to me.

              1. re: wienermobile

                The OP wanted a place for good chili dogs. I've been to Portiillo's and found their hot dogs lacking. I much prefer Chicago QT in the Valley for a Chicago hot dog. But, Chicago isn't a city known for it's chili dogs.

                1. re: reality check

                  Not sure who to thank (or disembowel) but... I was baited by this thread into trying the not very Chicago chili dog at Portillo's last week.

                  It was a salt bomb, with beans still demonstrating a resemblance to whole beans. Great if you're into that sort of thing I suppose.

      2. Up here in the LA area I find Carney's to be one of the best due to a couple of factors. Superior chili and a dog that snaps so hard you jump back to avoid its jaws (g). Another place that is a must try is The Infield in Sherman Oaks. They have a broad assortment of high end dog brands (including Sabrett's, Hebrew National and Vienna Beef - among others) and know their stuff. I'm someone who enjoys steamed over grilled. So if you like grilled best you can take my recommendations with a grain of mustard.

        12601 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

        Carney's Restaurant
        8351 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

        The Infield
        14333 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: Servorg

          Don't forget that The Infield has their deep fried twinkie dog (you don't have to wait for the Fair to put your health in peril!)... http://www.laweekly.com/locations/the...

        2. I always liked Tommy's chili dog, lots of chili, cheese, onions, beefstake tomato and pickles, fairly cheap. There is one in lake forest, 24310 Swartz Dr.
          or go to their website for other locations,

          1. Jerry's Wood Fired Dogs has locations in Ladera Ranch and Irvine.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JAB

              The great thing about Jerry's is they have Cleveland Stadium brown mustard!!!

            2. love the chilidogs at okidog. slight sweet/curry taste to the chili + super neat everytime.

              dont' be afraid of the ghetto.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ns1

                Yeah but the hot dogs taste like bologna.

                1. re: A5 KOBE

                  And is that a bad thing?

                  But you may have a point. I'm not usually a fan of bologna-tasting hot dogs.

              2. Not in the OC, but in the Valley - Cupid's is always my #1 CD - ALWAYS. Also, Larry's in Burbank does a bang-up job on his chili dogs! Happy chewing! ;-)

                12 Replies
                1. re: WildSwede

                  If you are going to Cupid's, yes go to the Valley locations, not their franchise location, I think in Torrance.

                  Is Larry's near Chili John's?

                  1. re: reality check

                    Yes, there are only 3 original Cupid's left (the rest are franchises). How can you tell? The originals only sell hot dogs, chips and drinks. The franchises sell burgers, sausages, kebabs (yes, I have seen this!), etc. Lindley just south of Nordhoff in Northridge; Vanowen just east of Winnetka in Reseda/Winnetka (or whatever they are calling it these days); Simi Valley on Cochran.

                    Yes, Larry's is further west than Chili John's. Funny you mention Chili John's. I was in Green Bay about a month ago and HAD TO go to Chili John's there (the original). The owner was there and I asked him about any connection to the Burbank location. He said he thinks an uncle opened that one. He said that someone was in there a few weeks before me and had just been to the Burbank location and said it was nowhere near what they serve at the WI location. Personally, I have only had the Burb location's food once and now the WI location's once - they seemed pretty close to me. What I liked about the WI location is that you could get some of the chili oil (I cannot remember that being offered at the Burb location) that has a helluva lotta flavor. I would say it is a toss-up. The chilis at both seem not to coat the spaghetti very well - too dry (and I like a wet chili). That is why I loved that they offered the oil to moisten it a bit. They also had a very extensive menu - burgers, burritos, etc that the Burbank loc does not have.

                    Okay, back to your original question - Yes, Larry's is near Chili John's - on Burbank a few blocks before Hollywood Way. 3122 W Burbank Blvd. Larry's chili dog tastes exactly like the first one I ever had when I was a wee lass (and made me love them forever!) at Papa John's which used to be on the SW corner of Hazeltine and Victory in the 70s. God, I miss that place!! ;-)

                    Chili John's
                    2018 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      I still shed a tear or two on a yearly basis for El Patio...here is Jonathan Gold writing about it in 1990 for the Los Angeles Times when the Pulitzer wasn't even a gleam in his eye: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-08-3... (the best Chicago Dog I've had in LA and their chili cheese dog was right behind it in terms of quality)

                      1. re: Servorg

                        I cannot ever remembering going to El Patio, although the name sounds familiar to me...
                        Ruben's Red Hots - the building, sign, everything is the same as when they closed a few years ago, but absolutely empty. It is so sad when places that serve very good food close down.

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          I liked Ruben's Red Hots but I think they had the worst location a restaurant could have ever asked for.

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            True, but they had an authentic part of the El from Chicago there (it is still there). I think the location made it more fun and for interesting dining.

                            1. re: WildSwede

                              I loved the location and the hot dogs, but didn't like the polish dogs at Ruben's.

                      2. re: WildSwede

                        I went to the Cupid's that served kebobs, and thought it was strange to see. Not sure if that franchise is still open.

                        1. re: reality check

                          Yeah, there are many franchises. Was the one you went to on Tampa and Ventura in the valley? That one seems to do everything.
                          The only originals still out there are the three I mentioned above. There is even one in San Fernando!

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            I think the franchise Cupid's, I went to, used to be The Wienery. But, that was a long time ago, so I'm not really sure.

                            1. re: reality check

                              Hmmm, could be. Not sure where the Wienery used to be.

                  2. I did a same-day taste test of Pink's vs. Carneys vs. Coney Dog. Here it is. You can see the full article formatted with pictures on my blog linked at the end of this post.

                    For most of my formative years, the closest restaurant to me was an Orange Julius. My go-to item on their menu (Julius itself aside), was what at the time they called a California Dog. That would be a chili cheese dog to you and me. Although these days I'm as liable as not to dog it sans fromage, I often get the hankering. Sometimes I make 'em at home. But sometimes, you gotta hit up a stand, and living in Hollywood, I have serious options.

                    Recently two different friends from Detroit began raving about the recently opened Coney Dog on Sunset Strip. Both told me that for lovers of chili dogs, it's the be-all and end-all. So, in honor of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, I set out with my Better Palate, Sa, and taste-tested three versions of that most American of all snack foods, in the space of two hours: Coney Dog, Carneys and Pink's, for the ultimate smackdown.

                    CONEY DOG

                    My Detroit friends tell me that the Motor City is where a true Coney Dog comes from -- not, ironically, from New York's Coney Island. If Wikipedia is to be trusted on this, they are correct. There are two competing joints, originally operated by two Greek brothers and still family-run, next door to each other: Lafayette Coney Island, and American Coney Island.

                    The two have engendered a rivalry that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like the Brady Bunch. A Detroiter is born with a genetic allegiance to one or the other, and the fan of one never sets foot in the other on pain of disinheritance. Both of my friends are Lafayette men (although American won a recent blind taste-off on Travel Channel's Food Wars), and they were over the moon when Coney Dog opened. It's owned by an ex-Detroiter who recreated Lafayette's look and feel, right down to the hexagonal off-white floor tile. Ingredients are shipped from Detroit for authenticity.

                    The service here is super friendly; the menu is simple and to the point. Hot dogs. A "loose burger," which is actually a hot dog with ground beef in place of a frankfurter. And there is at least one ode to the L.A. location -- and L.A. Street Dog, wrapped in bacon. But I'm here for the real Detroit style Coney Dog, or, as I'm told its ordered in Detroit, just a Coney: a simple chili dog with onions and mustard ($3.95, but two-for one during their weekday happy hour).

                    The bun is steamed and soft without being squishy. The sausage itself is casing-on, as all great dogs must be. This one is a blend of beef and pork, and it's tasty. This contest, I know, will be largely about "snap," the level of fight-back the casing provides when biting in. On the Coney Dog, it's considerable, and the dog itself is not-unpleasantly chewy; one fears there might be a structural integrity issue, but there is not. It is possible to get through one without getting mustard and chili stains on your shirt.

                    Then there is the chili. It is rich, savory, just the right thickness to provide creaminess without falling off the dog. But I immediately notice a slightly sour note to it. It is my Better Palate who wrinkles her nose and says simply, "I don't like the chili. It tastes like chicken liver or something." A little research, back at home, reveals that she was in the right organ meat ballpark (no Dodger Dog jokes, please). One of the "secret" ingredients to Lafayette's chili, and presumably to Coney Dog's, is beef heart. Now don't let that put you off, if you're eating a hot dog out in the world, you're already eating internal organs you'd rather not think about. But it does impart a very particular savoriness to the dog.


                    Love it or hate it, ya gotta love Pink's. Personally I love it, but the line, right? I usually go once or twice a year. Once, when I happen to drive by and the line looks less than 15 minutes. Once, when I visit the County Fair, where there are multiple Pink's outlets and you can step right up and get a dog. This year, I braved a fairly standard lunchtime line (25 minutes), just for the edification of you, my reader. You're welcome.

                    The frankfurter here, famously made "especially for Pink's" is Hoffy all-beef, casing on. The bun is fractionally -- fractionally -- more firm than the one at Coney Dog. The chili dog ($3.45) is also fractionally more toothsome (a word that I use, incorrectly, as a synonym for "chewy'" I'm a novelist so I'm allowed): getting through the bottom casing without pulling out the dog or some chili is somewhat more of a challenge. Unlike Coney Dog, the mustard at Pink's is applied beneath the chili, which I find somewhat less pleasing aesthetically.

                    The dog is delicious -- I have decided I prefer all-beef. The chili is definitive, perfectly creamy, perfectly spicy, perfectly salty. Interestingly, I have noticed something while waiting in line with my camera. The stand is decorated with pictures of the stand in past days. The one from 1946 has a prominently displayed neon announcing that they use "XLNT Tamales and Chili."

                    I have loved XLNT Tamales since I was a teen with the munchies -- and both they and their chili are available by the brick in Southern California supermarkets. I asked the manager if Pink's still uses the same brand, and she told me "yes." With all the discussion about the Pink's chili recipe, it's been right their in your grocer's freezer all along, the bastard! (Although One Guy On the Internet says that Pink's adds water, flour, and beaten egg to the brick starter, so it must be true.)

                    Yes, this a fine and noble chili dog indeed.


                    Carneys on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood is where I generally go when I crave a simple chili dog with a snap. I love the Southern Pacific Railroad car ambience, the view of the Strip, the easy, free parking -- I have always considered it a reasonable, but no-hassle, alternative to Pink's. Unlike Pink's, with its chaotic one-person-handles-your-order-from-beginning-to-cashier workflow, Carneys' dog is in front of you practically before you order it. The guy behind the counter is invariably efficient, slightly gruff, but then personable and funny. (When the Better Palate calls me "Honey," which I hate (in public), he asks what my last name is. He laughs when quickly respond "Bear.") We are sitting and eating within three minutes of walking in the door, having ordered the Carney's Dog without the Chicago-dog style sliced tomatoes: our benchmark chili-onion-mustard dog.

                    The bun is exactly the consistency of Coney Dog's: steamed soft, but with reliable integrity. Like Pink's the mustard is applied before the chili. But the all-beef dog's snap is just right, popping juicily but not interfering with the bite; it is plump, slightly charred at the very tip, and delicious. The chili tastes a lot like Pink's; I'd be interested to do an actual side-by-side to see if, perhaps, they are the very same. This dog sings four-part harmony; bun, chili, mustard and onions are a perfectly composed quartet; the whole merges gracefully into a sum greater than its parts, and its parts are damn good. My Better Palate and I polish one off; I'm ready for more.


                    When I expressed fondness for both Pink's and Carneys to my Detroiter friend Danny over our dogs at Coney Dog, he nodded vigorously (Danny does everything vigorously), he said, "I'd eat any of those dogs." And he's right. They're all great. (Alas, I'll never be able to test side-by-side with a dog from the original Nathan's on Coney Island, which is certainly great.) And frankly (ha!), very little separates the competitors. I mean, it's just a freakin' chili dog, after all. But Sa and I agreed: for the simple chili dog, Carneys comes out on top. Still, I won't hesitate to chow down at Pink's when the line is reasonable. And if listening to the excited, anticipatory chatter of tourists while contemplating an endless variety of kinky dogs (most recently, the "L.A. Philharmonic Conductor Gustavo Dudamel Dog," a Stretch hot dog, guacamole, American and Swiss cheese, fajita-grilled onions and tomatoes, jalapeno slices, topped with tortilla chips) is what you're in the mood for... well, ya gotta love Pink's.


                    Coney Dog
                    8873 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: jesstifer

                      Great review! Thank you so much! Wonder what you would think of Cupid's and Larry's Chili dogs after tasting these.
                      The Orange Julius mention brought back memories of high school in the 80s when my friend worked at the one in the Northridge Mall. I would always get an OJ and a hot dog with cheese (sometimes chili). The good old days!

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Thanks! I will try Larry's, for a follow-up. Yeah, writing that post really made me want a real Orange Julius. My first date -- in sixth grade -- was there.I may have to make a pilgrimage.

                        1. re: jesstifer

                          Ahhhh, food memories! I had Carney's on Saturday night. I always get their Chicago Dog and a small chili cheese fries - cooked well done. I barely eat a quarter of the fries, but it satisfies my craving). I am happy with that. I also like the Chicago dog at Sonic (theirs is made much more correctly to those in Chicago than the one at Carneys which is only onions, mustard and relish).

                      2. re: jesstifer

                        Bonus points given to Pink's for it's "creamy" chili? Is this a gag?

                        No, we don't gotta love Pink's, at all.

                        1. re: TonyC

                          "No, we don't gotta love Pink's, at all."


                        2. re: jesstifer

                          Excellent post! Reading about and sampling hot dogs is my hobby. One thing I wish you would have included is the method of preparation. I believe Coney Dog prepares theirs on a griddle as does Lafayette. Pink's boils or steams theirs. What about Carney's? And do you know the brand served? I've never been to California but friends of mine who have been seem split on where to get the best hot dog; not necessarily the best chili dog. Two names pop up: Carney's and Top Dog in Berkeley.

                          The most common lie in the hot dog world is "we have a special recipe made just for us." Not positive, but I've heard that the recipe for the Hoffy dogs served at Pinks is the same as what you get in stores. The size and casing may be different. There are hot dog companies that will make a special recipe but most of the time they will not make one despite claims by hot dog stands. I know people in the industry who say it is too labor intensive. Papaya King in New York claims a special recipe as does Katz's. I know people at Sabrett (including the person in charge of private label) who have told me that Katz's, Papaya King, and every place serving the Sabrett beef frank may use different size dogs and either casing or skinless, but they have only 2 recipes: one for all beef and one for beef/pork.

                          Before Best Kosher was discontinued, Superdawg in Chicago used a frank from them called Sinai 48 although they claimed a special recipe dog. I know the plant manager and one of the owners of Best Provisions in Newark, N.J. (not related to Best out of Chicago) who told me they make one recipe and have since they opened in 1938. It's for an all beef frank that is my favorite out of dozens sampled from all over the country. This has not stopped places in N.J. from claiming that they get their franks from Best, but it is a special recipe. They are lying and I call them on it. Sorry for the long post, but this is a pet peeve of mine. These places do this because they want you to think that you can only get what they serve at their place. Another common lie , at least in New Jersey, is that the franks are made on premise. I always ask to see the sausage making equipment. Without exception, there has been none and they have to admit their lie. Be wary when told somewhere has a special recipe made for them. 90% or more of the time it is false.

                          Have you ever had a dog from Fab's in Reseda? The owner is from N.J. and uses a special pork/beef frank made especially for deep frying. It is exactly the same frank served at Rutt's Hut, which is one of the most famous and well known hot dog joints in the country and one you see on PBS A Hot Dog Program as well as on the Travel Channel. Fab's calls their deep fried dog a ripper which is a blatant rip off of Rutt's Hut which has been using this term since they opened in 1928. Since a pork based deep fried dog may be an aquired taste for most, Fab's also offers a grilled all beef frank, also from Thumann's which is quite good. Since I'm not familiar with California, I don't know how close Reseda is to the three mentioned here, but if you are close, it's worth a stop. Try the "ripper" as well as their all beef frank.

                          Papaya King
                          1645 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                          Coney Dog
                          8873 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                        3. It's been a while, but I've always enjoyed the chili dogs at PCH dogs. It's a small stand in the parking lot along Chapman in Orange, on the way up to Orange Hill. Really great chili dogs and french fries, although I only ate them when I was riding motorcycles up and down Santiago Canyon so any food would have been good.

                          Orange Hill Restaurant
                          6410 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869

                          1. In downtown Brea there is a place called Berkeley Dog. They make a fantastic all beef hot dog with the requisite snap. The bun is better than most places. Has the right amount of give and heft for the dog, chili and cheese. The chili cheese dog is my go to order here. Depends on how you like your chili but this is the right blend for me. Not too much spice or heat and not just a soupy blend of meat and tomatoes. Highly recommend. The onion rings are also fantastic.

                            Berkeley Dog
                            25522 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA 92692

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: js76wisco

                              Is their website STILL under construction as the link says? Man, that must be some slow construction project. Also, the photo http://www.chow.com/restaurants/91577... credited to OCShooter is most unfortunate in that it makes the dog look so darn unappetizing. If pictures are normally worth a thousand words this one has been discounted to 3 or maybe 4 words total.

                              ADD: It was a bad link of some sort to their website so I went ahead and put in a working one. I see they have 3 OC locations, including Irvine, Mission Viejo and Brea.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Ouch. I sincerely hope that's mustard in that photo ;-)

                                I went to UC Berkeley, so I have probably eaten a hundred or so Top Dogs of various varieties. I usually went for the kielbasa or the hot link. The original Top Dogs didn't, I think, have chili. I haven't been to Berkeley Dog, but if it's aping Top Dog I can't imagine it's in the same category?

                                Addendum, I visited Tommy's (original, 1st/Rampart) today. I had never tried their chili dog. It was just okay. Big. Messy. Chili was delicious as Tommy's always is (and TonyC if you don't like Tommy's chili we just have to agree to disagree), but that was the best part, IMHO.

                                Berkeley Dog
                                25522 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA 92692

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  That picture looks like the most unappetizing hot dog I've ever seen.

                                  But I can assure you the chili cheese dogs are excellent. I've also tried the calabrese and bratwurst. The calabrese was good but prefer the chili cheese dog. I generally like to eat my Italian style sausages grilled and cut up for finger food. The bratwurst reminded me of Wisconsin, I went to school there and enjoyed a brat or two in my day. The bread really makes the dog or sausage here elevated vs. other places. It's more of like a hoagie or sub roll you'd find back east. They also have about 7 different types of mustards if you're into that type of thing. I always stick to traditional deli mustard.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    Besides looking unappetizing, that dog is lost in that roll meant for a larger sausage.

                                2. Fabs has great chili dogs. They are in Northridge ( or right near northridge) the chili actually has a kick to it. I like my chili to be spicy. Another good place is Slaw dogs. there are two locations ( that I know of) in Pasadena and in Woodland Hills. everything there was very good including the service. Locally we have 'The Hat'. there are numerous of them around.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: suegab

                                    At Slaw Dogs be sure to ask for a natural casing dog for best results. The chili at slaw dogs is great -- they make it with, among other things, Newcastle Ale. I usually get the natural casing dog rippered with chili. Almost perfect. Now if they used the New England-style buns from Market Grill in Monrovia, that would be perfect.

                                    1. re: suegab

                                      This is the many-eth suggestion for Fabs. Been to Slaw Dogs and The Hat. Very good, but not up to Carney's dogs, IMHO. What The Hat does have is the best chili cheese fries. Because one order serves, like, ten. :-)

                                      The Slaw Dogs
                                      720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

                                      1. re: jesstifer

                                        I've always had Carney's as my number one CCD. But they've had two issues that are problematic for me. One is a given. Slice of cheese instead of grated cheese. Wish they would go to grated...and the other issue which at times causes me to have a problem is that the dogs can be too tough. Natural casings are great, but not if they turn into kevlar. Luckily that second issue is not frequent.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          I think they have a shredded Jack and cheddar mixture for their tacos so you'd prolly be able to get it on the dog as well.

                                          And I hate American cheese ony dogs which pinks does as well as carneys, standard.

                                          Btw. Noticed your posting plastered in Panns but sadly I wasn't able to try the Corned Beef Hash yet. Called it in but they still didn't have it. I'll try again soon.

                                          But I have to say that the fried chicken wings I did have and the Belgian waffle which I'm normally not a fan of were great. Ditto the blissfully not too sweet blueberry compote on the side.

                                          And I also had a couple eggs over easy but those were more of an afterthought.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            Glad you liked the wings and waffle combo at Pann's. Their waffle changed for the better a while back. My wife pretty much gets that combo every time we go. '

                                            Are you saying that they actually have my post up in the restaurant someplace about the CBH and eggs? I haven't been back since that night because of my wife's work schedule.

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              I just got back from Pann's for breakfast. Had the CBH and eggs (plus they give you 3 small grilled tomatoes which are nice) and a biscuit (they have damn good biscuits!) and it was still very, very good. But (just had to know one was coming) - they shredded the corned beef this time instead of the little individual cubes of corned beef goodness like it was prepared the first time. The cubed method is better. It really a) sets Pann's CBH apart from any other I've ever had and b) it gives you a much more intense corned beef bite along with the potatoes. I like the texture better too when the corned beef was cubed that first time. We'll have to see how the cooks prepare it the next time I have it.

                                              And Kevin, you have sharp eyes. I would never have noticed the excerpt of my write up copied and taped down low by the hostess stand where you first come in. Very funny. It brought a little smile to my face as I saw it on the way out (along with a hand written comment from the "chef" at Pann's about the write up off to the side of the page).

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                Yea. I missed it going in and then as I was walking out noticed it.

                                                So would you still recommend ordering the corned beef hash even though it's shredded and not cubed?

                                                Wow and they have it today labor day ? I asked if they would have it on Monday and all but the waitress noted that it's only on the weekends, i.e. Saturdays and Sundays. But this is good news.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  I'd still recommend it, but it was not up to the first "cubed" version...and when the waiter came up to the table with the menu (I was the second customer through their doors this A.M.) I said "If CBH is being served then I don't need the menu" and that was that.

                                      2. I too prefer Carney's. However, when hubby and I order the dogs we have the split and grilled as we like the flavor better than just boiled/steamed. For some reason, I have never liked Pink''s and I will not stand in those lines even those I live close by.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: paprkutr

                                          New Castle, PA was, at one point in time, trying to get itself named "Chili Dog Capital of the USA." I don't know how successful they were, but that's where I learned that the dog is always grilled and has mustard, onions and chili in that order. When I was in high school, we ate them twice a week during football season. Everybody would order six or eight (they were two for a quarter!) at a sitting. From the Travel Channel challenge, the Detroit Coney's look most authentic, to me. Here in California I have to admit that most of the chili dogs I've had have not measured up. Pink's chili is full of filler. I ate it once and never went back (1975). I've not been to the original Tommy's, but have eaten the chili dog at their Norwalk location (Alondra Blvd.). I was not impressed and it is messy.

                                          The actress who replaced Suzanne Somers on "Three's Company," Jennilee Harrison once had a chain of restaurants and the chili dogs there were very good. I must confess that whenever I see chili dogs on a menu, my first question is: "Does the chili have beans in it?" If the answer is yes, I look elsewhere on the menu. I'll eat Der Weinerschnitzel, mostly because of convenience, but it is a pale representation of what I crave. My cravings do not go unfulfilled because I do make chili dogs at home. Usually, Hebrew National or Oscar Meyer Premium Beef dogs with my own home made New Castle, PA chili. My dad got me the recipe from a friend who was a cook in one of the many chili dog restaurants in New Castle. For nearly forty years I've been making that chili. It's meat only, spices, onion, a touch of tomato and will make my hair sweat.

                                          I'll be trying the recommended dogs, but my standards are high.

                                          801 W Valley Blvd, Colton, CA 92324

                                        2. Wanted to add my enthusiastic thumbs up to Carney's, who apparently just won a chowhound taste test. I'm always bemused when I see the line at Pinks. I understand the entertainment value of joining the throng, but their hot dog left both hubs and me cold, and their chili, well, did something else entirely. Carney's chili dog and fries are such stuff as dreams are made of.

                                          1. Oh come on......CUPID"S...since 1947...no dog comes close. As with any dog joint quality may vary. However, when the buns stemed, the chili not watered down and the dog red hot...
                                            Cupid's in Northridge is da chili dawg bomb!!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: mikesea11

                                              +1 for Cupid's. Grew up eating at the long gone Van Nuys and Victory location. The best.

                                              Cupid's Hot Dogs
                                              9039 Lindley Av, Northridge, CA

                                              1. re: mikesea11

                                                Totally agree!! I was raised in Northridge, and we frequented Cupid's near CSUN in the early-mid 70s and 80s...you're right, nothing compares to the snap of their dogs, the tasty chili, and the steamed buns are the best.

                                                That flavor profile (dog, chili, yellow mustard, onions) is etched somewhere deep in my brain, and so that still is my go-to hot dog order to this very day!!

                                                1. re: GK in SO

                                                  are those dogs, all beef dogs???

                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                    Yes, Kevin, Cupid's dogs are beef (they may include some pork, too, I believe....can anyone confirm?).

                                                    But, since I don't eat beef, I haven't had a Cupid's dog in many a moon. Have had to substitute turkey dogs instead, which usually aren't so great, unless you've had a Wiener Factory (RIP) turkey dog.

                                                    Thankfully, the new Wien Truck stocks the old WF turkey (as well as other WF) dogs!!

                                                    See my post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803286

                                                    1. re: GK in SO

                                                      Yeah, i love the aforementioned Wiener Factory Turkey dogs, nothing beats a couple of those with the requisite snap, topped with mounds of their shredded cheddar cheese and some of their spicy brown mustard.

                                                      Dambn, now I'm gertting very hungry.

                                                2. re: mikesea11

                                                  Agree, AGREE! See my post above. I have been touting Cupid's on this board since 2005. The best, always!

                                                  My best friend's brothers worked at the one in Northridge in the late 70s and early 80s, so there was always a box on their counter (and since I was ALWAYS there...). Also, my church is across the street from the now gone Van Nuys location. I live in Arcadia now and every time I go to the valley, I have to get my Cupid's fix!

                                                3. As an Expert on Cupids....
                                                  The dogs are a mix of Beef and Pork and other ingredients...Personally I find the natural casing dogs made this way superior to all beef. All beef are quite bland..almost tasteless.
                                                  Was in Vegas last week where Pink's opened a store...they steam the dogs at this location as opposed to Pink's grilling.....nice bite but very bland.
                                                  Cupid's original specs are manufactured in a 8 to 10 to 1..size. ( Per pound) at a Los Angeles meat company that also produces the thinly cut belly cut pastrami for the Hat.
                                                  The cupids chili is a mixture of Chili and tamale sauce...both come in bricks.
                                                  Original buns came from old 4S bakery in Los Angeles......
                                                  Often imitated never equaled.....Well Dune Dog's in San Luis Obispo...had it down to a science but that's another story.
                                                  Bun...Dog...mustard, onions and then chili! Order is very important!
                                                  Ummmmmmmm...I live in Sacramento now but going to LA this weekend and will stop for my Cupid's fix!!!
                                                  Hold up a hand and tell em how many!!!

                                                  1. After my Pink's vs. Carney's vs. Coney Dog post a few weeks ago, I asked both here and on my blog for suggestions for other contenders to the chili dog throne. Thanks to your recommendations, I've visited Cupid's, Papaya King, Skooby's, Fab Hot Dog, and Original Tommy's, and I now humbly offer my Chili Dog Smackdown, Part II... and final rankings. You can see the fully formatted article, with links (ha!) and pictures at the URL at the end of this post.

                                                    Original Tommy's
                                                    2575 Beverly Blvd
                                                    Los Angeles, CA 90057
                                                    (213) 389-1682

                                                    And by Original, I don't mean any old shack that claims to be an Original Tommy's, even if it is part of the same chain; I mean the one and only original location of the Original Tommy's, on First and Rampart, in the no-man's land between Silver Lake and downtown. I've had a few dozen burgers here in my time, but it had never occurred to me to try their chili dog (in fact I don't think I knew they made one), recommended on Chowhound by malibumike.

                                                    Now I have. It's... fine. The chili is Tommy's: say no more. They make the perfect chili for dogs and burgers, dense but still fluid, full of all those secret savory spices that are a chili-maker's heart and soul. Simply delish. As for the rest of the dog, it didn't quite carry its weight. It's possibly the largest, messiest of the dogs I tasted. While it was flavorful, it was a little bit on the tough side, without being snappy. In a dog, one wants the resistance on the outside, tender juiciness in the middle. This was curiously reversed on my Tommy's dog (sounds weird, saying that!) Also the bun was a little stale... as if it had been sitting in the sun behind the streetside shack... oh wait, it probably had been. A possible disadvantage to the "original" location, or at least of the streetside service area as opposed to separate one set back from the street.

                                                    Cupid's Hot Dogs
                                                    9039 Lindley Ave
                                                    Northridge, CA 91325

                                                    This was by far the most-recommended other dog, and with good reason. I was told to go to the original branch across from the entrance to Cal State Northridge. On approach, I was immediately comforted that they make hot dogs, and nothing but hot dogs. This is the entire menu:

                                                    Hot Dogs - 2.50
                                                    Cheese - 0.25
                                                    Everything is - Mustard, Onions & Chili
                                                    Upon Request - Ketchup, Relish, Cheese

                                                    Chips - 0.75

                                                    Small - 1.00, Medium - 1.25, Large - 1.50
                                                    Refills - 0.50
                                                    Bottled Water - 1.00
                                                    Milk - 0.75
                                                    Instant Coffee - 0.40
                                                    Hot Tea - 0.40

                                                    ***Tax Included On All Items***

                                                    I love that when Cupid's makes you "One with everything," it's just the way I like it: mustard, onions, chili.

                                                    This is bare bones doggery, man. No indoor seating; three outdoor picnic tables. And it's an excellent chili dog. If I lived in the northeast reaches of the Valley, it would be my go-to. Cupid's chili is unique in this group. I'm no expert on chili, but this one is more of a fluorescent orange color than a brick red. My guess is it's greasier. It's also got more of tang; perhaps the presence of more tomato in the sauce? And although there isn't a lot of beef in it, it's what I consider a delightful texture: creamy. Mind you, this isn't the type of meat-forward chili you'd want to eat a bowl of; it's strictly a hot dog topping. The dog itself was good, but (especially after Tommy's" it seemed a little small; you'd definitely want two to make a meal here, where I'm usually good with one. The bun was steamed to perfection.

                                                    6654 Hollywood Blvd
                                                    Hollywood, CA 90028
                                                    (323) 468-3647

                                                    This is also a dogs-only joint, a couple of years old, on Hollywood Blvd. It's a hipster/retro version of the Cupid's vibe. Which is fine.

                                                    What's unique and delicious about Skooby's is their buns: more a French sandwich roll than a bun, nicely steamed to a chewy but not difficult texture. The dog is snappy, tasty, but unfortunately, the chili here isn't in the same league as the others on this quest. It's bland and watery.

                                                    Papaya King
                                                    1645 Wilcox Ave
                                                    Los Angeles, CA 90028
                                                    Neighborhood: Hollywood
                                                    (323) 871-8799

                                                    The new kid on the block in Hollywood, and the current "it" dog. A New York institution, but I gather it's more because of their papaya drinks and shakes (I tried one, too sweet for me!) than their dogs.

                                                    Their chili dog (by far the smallest of the group) is okay, flavorwise, but somehow it doesn't have the left coast balls to the wall panache that homegrown chili dogs do; chili is not, after all, a New York calling card. This pup just doesn't stand out against the rest of the group here. I plan to come back, though, and try a New York style dog along the lines of the ones to be found at the original Nathan's on Coney Island, with those orangey grilled onions. (Perhaps the next quest...after my triglyceride levels have recovered from this one.+

                                                    Fab Hot Dogs
                                                    Loehmann's Plaza
                                                    19417 1/2 Victory Blvd
                                                    Reseda, CA 91335
                                                    (818) 344-4336

                                                    This place makes a big to-do about hot dogs, with a vast menu of replications of regional hot dog types and toppings. As I say in my reviews, I don't post negative reviews, but I thought readers would like to know that I did order a dog here. Suffice to say I didn't finish it.

                                                    And finally, after all this tasting, I went back to Carney's on Sunset Strip, just to make sure. Yeah, I'm sure.

                                                    My final rankings in the great Chili Dog Smackdown of 2011:

                                                    1. Carney's
                                                    2. Cupid's
                                                    3. Pink's
                                                    4. Coney Dog
                                                    5. Original Tommy's
                                                    6. Papaya King
                                                    7. Skooby's
                                                    8. Fab Hot Dogs

                                                    Full article with links and pictures here:


                                                    6654 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                    Papaya King
                                                    1645 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                    Coney Dog
                                                    8873 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: jesstifer

                                                      Thanks for coming back with take two on the Chili Dog Wars, Jess. Carney's has always been my number one dog. It's just that (as I've posted before) every now and again the dog with its natural casing tastes like it's been cooked too long and the casing gets too damn tough. But that, luckily, is rarely the case...

                                                      1. re: jesstifer

                                                        agree that CCD's @ Fab are there weakness

                                                        lastly, I encourage you to go to Oki-Dog for their chili dog.

                                                        super neat, interesting chili - i suspect that they add curry to it.

                                                        1. re: jesstifer

                                                          Thanks, Jess! Great job and nice write up! I am glad you like Cupid's. It is still and always will be my go-to and I live in Arcadia (grew up in the valley)! I usually ask for extra chili and use a spoon to eat a lot of it off the dog. It's odd, I can usually only eat one. My ranking would be Cupid's 1st, then Carney's then Larry's. Have not tried your #4, 6 or 7. Have a Blackboard eats deal for Papaya King, so hopefully I will be trying theirs soon.

                                                          I went back to Larry's in Burbank last week and had their chili cheese dog. They use a 1/4 lb dog which I am not a great fan of (the size, not their hot dog). They have really good chili that reminds me of the place I first fell in love with chili cheese dogs - Pappa John's which was on the SW corner of Hazeltine & Victory in Van Nuys in the 70s. Smacks me right back to my childhood with every bite. Just wished they used a smaller dog.

                                                          I, too, was not overly impressed with Fab's. Other dogs of theirs are better than their chili dogs, did not like their chili. Thanks again for the great reviews!

                                                          ns1, I had the oki chili dog and was not crazy about it. But it would be a sad, sad world if everyone had the same taste, huh?

                                                          Papaya King
                                                          1645 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                                            @WildSwede it's cool, I didn't like Bazaar very much when I went there either ;) and I'm pretty sure we're on opposite ends of the spectrum on the Pho So 1 v Pho 999 battle lol

                                                          2. re: jesstifer

                                                            Jessitifer, there are two other original Cupid's locations still in existence: Winnetka (or Canoga Park as it was called when I lived there) on Vanowen east of Winnetka and another somewhere in Simi Valley (not sure exactly where).
                                                            The other ones that aren't originals, offer hamburgers, kebabs, fries, sausages, etc. I can absolutely detect a difference in taste.

                                                          3. I just went to Cupids for the first time and got a chili dog with mustard and onions, $2.73 no tax not very big and the chili was IMHO blah, I presonnaly think Tommys is a better deal - much bigger , lots of chili, onions, pickles and beefsteak tomato slice $2.45 + tax so about the same price but very messy.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: malibumike

                                                              "I just went to Cupids for the first time and got a chili dog with mustard and onions, $2.73 no tax..."

                                                              How do they get away with not charging tax?

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  I think they already added in the tax on the menu, Tommys used to not charge tax a little more than a year ago but now does.

                                                                2. re: malibumike

                                                                  I can't argue with your assessment, mike. Tommy's chili is incomparable. And it's bigger and cheaper. As Swede points out, this is what makes a horse race. A taste test, by definition says as much about the taster as what's tasted. "De quaestionibus gustatuum non disputandem est." Which, if my rusty Latin came out right, means "In matters of taste tests, there can be no dispute." ;-)

                                                                  1. re: jesstifer

                                                                    I don't speak Latin, but it makes good sense to me!

                                                                    Went to Slaw Dogs today for lunch (had a Groupon that was expiring next week) and ordered the Hulk. It was the chicken sausage (went for it grilled) with (iirc, since the guy had to read the toppings to me since someone on an old post mentioned it but didn't go into details other than saying it is spicier than the Green Monster (#6 The Green Monster $5.59 Roasted green chili, chipotle mayo, grilled onion, pepperjack, spicy garlic salsa)). This one had the chicken sausage, habanero pickled onions, jalapeno bacon, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, some roasted green chiles, some red sauce (maybe Valentina or something of the like) a sauce and some other things that I know I am missing. The bun actually stayed together until I got about halfway through (which is saying a lot as the last time I went, right after they opened, I got the CCD and it fell apart after the 2nd bite). I wonder if they changed their bun. I really liked this bun they had today. Either way, It was really, really good. It came to $8 something. A lot for a hot dog, but it was tasty!

                                                                    Their specials were the LA dog and a Pineapple dog. They also had a dog with Mac N Cheese on it. I get kinda overwhelmed when I go there as they have too many toppings and choices. They do offer a Chicago Dog, now, in case you didn't know (they didn't when they opened and I know lots of people were lamenting the fact). $3.99 with the neon green relish.

                                                                    The Slaw Dogs
                                                                    720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

                                                                3. Alas....I'm happy with Cupid's as your #2...but they won't try harder....Perfection after all is just that. No supersizing, no thrills...just an excellent dog....like chips...who could eat just one??...

                                                                  DOG THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Chroni's on Whittier Blvd in East LA.......Great tasting natural casing dog...go for it plain...as the dog is best naked.......I mean can 3million pedigree pups be wrong??!!

                                                                  5825 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022