Rutt’s Hut

Review by: Michael Stern

The Amazing Ripper

Fans of Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ know the hot dogs served here as rippers because their skin tears and crinkles when they are deep fried. The oil bath makes the pork-and-beef links rugged, dark, and chewy on the outside. And yet, the interior remains soft and juicy. Weenie wimps ask for an “in and outer.” The cooks pluck that one from the fat more quickly. It remains thoroughly pink and plump. Extremists get one well-done. It reminds me of fried pig skin. They call that a cremator.

Dressing Dogs

Combine onions, finely chopped carrots, cabbage, and mystery spices in a mustard-yellow mash. This dense, spicy-sweet condiment puts rippers into hot dog Nirvana. Or, instead of relish, top your dog with chili. Rutt’s Hut makes a chunky mid-Atlantic brew. Clods of ground beef with an occasional bean among it crowd a vividly spicy tomato emulsion. Add crumbled crackers on top and it becomes a very satisfying dish.

Square Meals, Too

Rutt’s Hutt serves hot-lunch meals as well as real drinks in an adjoining tap room with its own separate entrance. Here, amidst wood-panel décor, one quaffs beers or shots and beers. The beers accompany platters of such blue-plate fare as chicken croquettes, stuffed cabbage, and chili by the cup or bowl. The extensive tap room menu includes fried seafood, roasts, steaks, and burgers. Prices are low and the food I have tasted is mighty satisfying.

Quintessential Roadfood

But if you come to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ only once, eat hot dogs at a counter. You will have a Roadfood experience to remember. Dine in a wide-open mess hall with high counters at the windows that provide a view of the parking lot. Stand and eat off paper plates, and for entertainment, enjoy the calls of the counter men as they sing out, “Twins, all the way.” They’re asking for a well-dressed pair of rippers.

Hot dog explorers also should visit Blackie’s up in Cheshire, Connecticut. Blackie’s doesn’t call their hot dogs rippers, but they are.

What To Eat




Onion Rings

Rutt’s Relish


Rutt’s Hut Recipes


What do you think of Rutt’s Hut?

11 Responses to “Rutt’s Hut”

Annette urban

April 13th, 2023

Best in the world wish I still lived in Jersey. Moved to Delaware. I miss those hot dogs and onion rings so much.


Donald Breen

January 8th, 2023

your chilly is out of this world. why not add texas weiners or chilly dogs to your menu. ( mustard, chilly and onions)?


Rocco Patierno

January 13th, 2013

Like 95% of the patrons of Rutt’s, I have been a regular since my high school days at Passaic HS. For me, that’s nearly 50 years. I drive around a lot and whenever I’m within five miles of the place I get that “gotta have one” feeling, that craving for a ripper.

True, the place has as much charm as a hot dog vendor in NYC. True, the interior has a sort of “crustiness” about it. True, the place has never been updated, renovated, or in any way redecorated in all those years. True, the waitstaff both inside the restaurant and in the walk-in area (where I have always eaten) do not have the elegance of the staff at the Waldorf or the cutesiness of those who work at a Friday’s (frankly, they don’t have the time, or even give a s&*t).

But all that plus the wonderful-tasting, greasy, lowdown, cholesterol-laden, “don’t tell my doctor I’m eating this” food is precisely the reason folks LOVE the place and remain so loyal. On a recent visit I asked a guy to take my picture so I could email it to my high school buddy living in Florida. He was there with his 12-year-old son, and HIS father. The old man said he’s been coming here for over 55 years, and he was getting a ripper to go for his 88-year-old father to sneak into the nursing home. That’s four generations. How’s that for loyalty?

The dogs are just the best and the fries are great too. I even get breakfast here on occasion: scrambled eggs with Taylor ham and toast, delicious. Some tips: never eat in the dining room, always at the stand-up counter. You’ll meet more interesting people and the servers are the real thing. Learn the lingo: ripper or dog or weller = hot dog; Frenchy = French fries; rings = onion rings; howdy = orange soda; Marvis = chocolate drink (Yoo-hoo); BB = barbeque beef sandwich; Bobo = BLT, and if you want extra mayo ask for heavy on the whip.

Food junkies welcome; gourmets stay away. See you there. Hail to the red and hail to the blue.


Antony LaBozetta

July 6th, 2012

I can’t see how anyone could complain about this place. Racist? Uhh no, you were probably just acting like an asshole. Dirty? Part of the charm. If you don’t like it go find something more toward your hot dog liking, like a tube steak shop that has valet parking. Poor quality? I suppose you think Olive Garden is gourmet then?

It’s simple, people, you are here for five things and five things ONLY! Repeat after me:

– beverage (beer, birch beer, or lemonade are my usuals)
– chicken soup
– hot dogs
– french fries
– onion rings

That’s it… that’s all… take it and move on. The chicken soup is packed with rice and meat and veggies, the dogs are (of course) why you’re here, the french fries are crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, and the onion rings are 100% homemade fresh.

That’s all you need to do and know. Welcome to Jersey.


George Lohr

April 16th, 2011

I wanted to eat here after seeing it on a couple of TV shows. The experience was, in a word, horrible. Horrible service: the waitress made us put our own tables together (for a party of five). Then, it was as if we were invisible. We waited 15 minutes before the waitress even brought us table settings, then another 10 minutes before she came to take our order.

We explained that it was our first time and she talked us into ordering the platter (two hot dogs, slaw, and potato salad). Horrible hot dogs. They tasted like the kind of boiled hot dogs I would make for my grandson, not “fried” or crispy or anything. After the “meal,” when I asked her about the dogs she said they were “rippers.” More like “ripped off” I’d say. Nothing at all special about them.

After that we became invisible again. Even after waving my arms to get her attention while she was clearing the adjacent table, she actually turned the other way as if she didn’t see me. Eventually we got our check, paid, and left, leaving no tip. This place sucks! The only redeeming quality is that the potato salad is pretty good. I’ve checked it off my list and won’t be back, and will tell anyone else who’ll listen to not waste their time.


Brian Sniatkowski

August 17th, 2010

Rutt’s Hut makes the finest hot dog in NJ. The nicotine-stained, never-left-the-50’s seediness is part of the charm of this place.

Some of the negative reviews complain about the quality of the dog, which in fact is a high quality Thumann’s dog made specially for the restaurant industry, and is identical to those served at a number of popular hot dog places in NJ. The difference at Rutt’s is that they are deep-fried in beef tallow.

Sure, if you start venturing around the menu you’re going to find a lot of clunkers. Roast duckling and leg of lamb? You’d have to be insane to order those here. I once saw a diner eating a ham steak that was served with some sort of pineapple jelly smeared on it. Yuk! Burgers? If you want a good burger what the heck are you doing in a hot dog place? That’s like going to a seafood place and complaining about the ribeye steak.

You come to Rutt’s for one reason: the hot dogs, and that is what they do “weller” than anybody “elser.” Order a pair of rippers and smear them with mustard and the amazing relish (which I have not been able find the equal of anywhere. Heck I don’t even like relish.) and you are in hot dog heaven. A mug of draft beer and frenchies with gravy make it even better.

Though most people seem to order the rippers, the dogs are also served as “In and Outers” (just barely cooked), “Wellers” (well-done) and “Cremators” (cooked until charred).

I’ve been to Pinks, Gray’s Papaya, the original Nathan’s, Hot Dog Johnny’s, Hot Grill, Jimmy Buff’s, Callihan’s, Johnny and Hanges, Galloping Hill, Dickie Dee’s… and all are very good at what they do, but none reach the sublime heights of a Rutt’s Ripper.


Warren Corson

May 1st, 2010

Made my yearly pilgrimage to Rutt’s this past weekend from Virginia. My father, a north Jersey native, introduced me to Rutt’s as a little kid and I’ve been going back ever since.

After reading some of the recent poor reviews of Rutt’s, I was very happy to see that everything was as it should be: crunchy, delicious, custom-made deep-fried dogs, flat Miller on draft, and those incomparable waitresses, a combination of just the right amount of surliness and north Jersey charm. I felt like I was back in the womb!

Rutt’s is not Disneyland and it’s not Applebee’s (thank God!). They don’t care if you drove down the street or 300 miles for their dogs. They are a temple of hot dog-dom and a complete Jersey experience. So, if you’re going to go there, soak it all in and enjoy the whole experience. I brought two friends who had never been before and, after giving them a short briefing about what to expect, they loved it all. So go, relax and enjoy. It’s as good as ever!


Robert Jones

February 23rd, 2010

I have been going to Rutt’s for 65 years. Back at the beginning it was a passion pit and if a father found out you took his daughter there, he might likely take out the white shotgun. My mom sent me with my sister and her boyfriend and, being ten, I had no idea why they kept sending me inside to wait and buy food. THEN they put up the Klieg lights and it became respectable.

Their hot dogs are unique and their relish is out of this world. They do serve other good food in the back dining room, but I go for the hot dogs and birch beer whenever I am in town.

Wish they would open a Rutt’s Hut South here in Orlando.


Reggie Beard

July 30th, 2009

I was very excited to dine at the Rutt’s Hut famous deep-fried hot dog restaurant. I had read some outstanding reviews on MSN and I saw on the Travel Network that they are one of America’s best deep-fried restaurants. On a recent Sunday in July I took my friend to dine at the famous Rutt’s Hut. We walked into the dining area and sat at one of the tables. This is where the nightmare begins.

We sat there for at least five minutes waiting for a waitress to acknowledge our existence let alone hand us a couple of menus. There was just one other occupied table in the dining area. When she was finished with that table she just walked away as if we were not even there. I was very annoyed; however, my friend told me to just be patient, and that they would recognize our table. After another four or five minutes passed the bartender brought us a couple of menus and told us that we would be waited on momentarily. More time went by and no waitress.

Meanwhile, a family had just sat across from us, and there was a table in between us that needed to be cleaned off. Now there was only one other table (behind us) that had patrons and the waitress spent all of her time with that table, not even looking our way, as if we were invisible. We continued to wait, much to my dismay.

The waitress then walked over to the family that just sat down and asked if they wanted their table wiped off. She wiped the table off and then proceeded to clean the table that was in between the both of us and then just walked away. We waited a couple of more minutes, to just be acknowledged. That did not happen, so we finally had enough and we just left the restaurant.

If I did not know I would have thought we were in the 50s or 60s in the Deep South. Needless to say it was the most horrible experience I have ever encountered. I will avoid this place like the plague. I will tell anyone who will listen about this experience. It’s disgraceful in this day and age, when there is much diversity in this country, that this level of ignorance is still displayed. Oh, in case you did not figure it out, we are African-American. I’ve said enough.


Larry Alessandrini

June 12th, 2009

DO NOT GO HERE! Please trust me on this. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY OTHER REVIEWS. You will read countless reviews online that say how great the place is. Absolutely not true. I am telling you, if you go here, you will regret it. This place is THE most disgusting place I have ever been to. I love greasy spoons and roadside shacks that make great greasy food, but this place is the worst place I have ever dined in my life.

I went with a friend who also loves to eat delicious garbage food. We usually go to the Hot Grill down the road, where the hotdogs are delicious. To say we were disappointed is an understatement. We decided to eat at the bar inside rather than at the stand-up walk-in section downstairs. First mistake. We wanted to try their famous Rippers. The food came up in literally one minute, the first suspicious sign. THE DOGS ARE DISGUSTING. Not because they are deep-fried, but because they are so greasy it makes my stomach turn, and they are the worst quality hot dogs I have ever tasted.

Second mistake we made: putting their “famous” relish on the dogs. It didn’t taste bad, but by no means was it great. But the mistake was putting it in my stomach all together. It sits around warm in a glass jar on the bar and has a wooden serving spoon in it, the kind you get with kids’ Dixie ice cream cups. The onion rings are gross, sopping in oil. The French fries are fine, your standard-fare diner fries.

Trust me, DO NOT waste your time or money, or subject your stomach to the horror of eating here.


Stephanie Volpe

April 21st, 2009

This place is HORRIBLE! What a waste of a trip. The hot dog meat quality is absolutely disgusting. They cannot possibly be all-beef dogs.

Hot dogs are my favorite food. I have been to the best-of-the-best and, when it comes to visiting places, I always search out the famous hot dog restaurants. I have been to Nathan’s in Coney Island countless times, Pink’s in Hollywood, The Varsity in Atlanta, Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King in Manhattan, Weinerschnitzel in Vegas; I’ve had hot dogs on the Vegas Strip, in Atlantic City, and at a lot of local places around Long Island, where I live. I’ve also had the less well-known hot dogs throughout the US.

As a huge fan of the almighty hot dog I was very excited to visit Rutt’s Hutt. From the reviews I have read, and the show on the Food Network, I was so excited to try them. We actually planned a day around going to Rutt’s since I live about two hours away. This was my first experience with a deep-fried dog as well.

The sad part is that the preparation, in regard to being fried, is not bad; it is the hot dog quality that is the problem. It tastes like a no-name-brand cheap-mystery-meat hot dog (the kind you get for $.99 at the grocery store). It’s served on a cheap, no-frills bun that isn’t toasted or anything to even try to jazz it up.

I ordered one plain and one with cheese. The cheese is the standard canned kind like you would squeeze out of a pump. Normally not a problem on an awesome dog, but I cannot express enough how cruddy the meat quality is. Yeah, the place is cheap, but for a place like this to be famous for their hot dogs is SHOCKING to me. They are gross, not even comparable to any NYC dog, or a Cali dog! SHOCKING is an understatement.

The famed relish is really nothing special either. It is OK but not spectacular like the reviews try to make you believe. I also ordered the French fries and a side of gravy. The fries are standard diner fries that you can get everywhere. Their problem is that they are cooked in too-cold oil, making them soggy.

So a HUGE dissappointment all around, to say the least. I am uploading pictures, too; basic, but you will see the dog and the fries.


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