Well, I’m eagerly awaiting your opinions of the five places that you visited yesterday. What time did you attempt to go to Charlies? Or did you get their hours off of Hollyeats? Because they are open on Sundays. In fact, my daughter worked there yesterday.
Did you see the article a couple of weeks ago in the Star Ledger about West Jersey hot dog joints? They mentioned Hot Dog Johnny’s as well as a number of others in that area. Johnny’s was named as the most popular eating establishment (not just hot dog restaurant) in Warren County. I’ve been to most of the places mentioned and some that weren’t. One not mentioned, Charlies Pool Room in Alpha uses a standard (bland) dog typical of the ones served in the area. I spoke to the owners who told me that it is indeed a regional thing. The dogs in West Jersey, Pa., and many other parts of the country lack the flavor of what we’re used to in North East Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. And the dogs we like aren’t necessarily spicy like a sausage sandwich. I believe that you will agree with me, having sampled the above named dogs. Most of the West Jersey dogs are ok, but rather ordinary. I consider Toby’s Cup the best of the bunch.
I disagree that hot dogs should be bland or simply holders for condiments. A good dog should be able to stand on it’s own. The first time I sample a dog, it is with mustard only. In fact, that is how I eat the majority of my hot dogs. Occasionally I’ll have a ripper with the fantastic relish, or a Texas Weiner from the Hot Grill. But a dog from the Galloping Hill Inn or Syd’s is best enjoyed with just a little mustard. If you load up on too much stuff, I guess it doesn’t really matter if you are using a quality dog or not.
Most dogs that I sample are either good, really good, or ordinary. In all honesty, Hot Dog Johnny’s is one of the only dogs I sampled that I really didn’t like. I had 2 and didn’t even finish them. Ironically, the actual dog isn’t bad. It’s from Schmalz’s Provisions in Newark and is good grilled. At Johnny’s it’s either steamed or boiled. I have had this same dog cooked the same way at a deli near me. Tasted the same. Lousy. Sorry; I call em as I taste em. I’ve always wondered why this place is so popular. I believe it’s a number of reasons. Setting, atmosphere, nostalgia, for just a few. All things that I completly discount when evaluating a hot dog. Another reason it’s popular is because it’s located in an area where people are used to milder tasting hot dogs. My opinions reflect my tastes; I say eat what you like. If I liked Johnny’s, I would go there frequently. In fact, I haven’t been there in a few years, I think I’ll make the trip again and see if the dogs have changed. Or if my taste has.
If you liked the dogs sampled, maybe you’ll join us Sept 4th.