I’ve been to the same hot dog restaurant and have had completely different experiences as far as food and service go. Some favorites have changed for the worse and some that were either mediocre or average have gotten better. Of course, when I’ve had a bad experience, I’m reluctant to go back. Unless I’ve been there before and know that the place is usually good. Jerry’s in Elizabeth for example. One of my favorite hot dogs. But on occasion you will get a stale roll or bad dog. If this happened to me for the first time, I would be hesitant to return. When I have returned after a bad experience, it’s been because I’ve heard that the place has gotten better. Maybe from someone on this forum. This summer, I went to 87 different places, many of which I’ve been to before and didn’t like. But because it was on our schedule, I went again and found that some had improved.
I had once heard about a place that had awful chili. I went, and agreed that it was bad. I decided to never have it again. Apparently the owner must have figured out that customers didn’t like the chili, so he changed it. I only found out because one day someone had an extra dog and gave it to me. It was from this place and had chili on it. I was surprised that it was so good. Still, because of the many great hot dog joints in Jersey, I’m not likely to go back to a place unless I’ve heard from someone that they’ve improved.
As for Ken’s experience at Jimmy Buff’s, hopefully the owner or someone who knows the owner will read his post and the issues he raised can be addressed. I was there twice and don’t remember being cold, but I asked my wife who went with me the second time. She agreed that it was cold. As for the soda, we both had bottles of Stewarts Root Beer, so I can’t comment on the fountain soda. Many Italian Hot Dog joints serve hamburgers, sausage sandwiches, and cheesesteaks the same way; with peppers, potatoes, and onions. Some call their hamburger an Italian Hamburger. I’m sure you can get a regular one if you ask. I haven’t had chicken fingers or anything other than hot dogs, so I can’t comment on them. I’ve had the single Italian Hot Dog, which was top of the line. The footlong, in my opinion, is the best hot dog available. It is the 5 to a lb Best natural casing dog served at Syd’s. But, as I mentioned in an earlier post, it is fried first, then charbroiled on a real charcoal, rather than gas grill. You can request it boiled, then charbroiled like Syd’s. The quarter pound dog, which is a Schickhaus, is griddled, then charbroiled. Another excellent dog.
I would definitely give Jimmy Buffs another try. On Tuesdays you can get a double Italian Hot Dog for the price of a single.
The dogs at JOHNNY’O s on RT 31 in oxford are thumanns, natural casing, deep fied,TOPPING are ,chili,kraut,italian,or for a real treat johnny O’s home made hot onions.
Thanks John…a comprehensive and excellent analysis…perhaps I was too hard on the Windmill…but I think I liked their older dog better…the new one is just a bit too mild for me…do like their hot relish,,,I guess I have a soft spot in my heart for the Windmill..since in the late 60’s while a student at Monmouth College, I was a regular fixture at the actual "windmill" located on the Westend…eating at one of the franchise places always brings me back…
I also agree with your Sabrett comments….I’ll eat one if I’m in Manhattan…did that a lot with mom in the 50’s on our many trips to NYC…again it’s nostalgia…but one pretty much tastes like the next…you know the taste before you actually bite in!!!! And they have to be with mustard and Sabrett cooked onions!!!And yes, a Sabrett better be fresh,likewise for their condiments.
I like atmosphere as much as the next guy, but I’ll judge a hotdog place on the dog , the bun(no Wonderbread type rolls on my buck!)and the quality of the ingrediants I put on top!!! That’s it
Again, thanks for your excellent expertise, as always!!!!
My mini tour of Middlesex County on Friday did not go exactly as planned, but it tunred out OK nonetheless.
My son and I started at Costco in Bridgewater. As usual, nice big Sabrett Beef Dog and Soda for only $1.50, and 2 huge orders of Fried for $1,25 each. The idea was to take most the Fries home, but my son went to town on his order and proclaimed that he was full! With 2 stops to go. C’mon Justin, you gotta get with the program…. Nah, you can’t tell a 19 year old how to eat, if he’s hungry he’s hungry.
Anyway, heading East on 28 out of Costco, traffic stopped for at least 10 minutes, there was some kind of tie up just past I278. Giving up, I made a (illegal, I guess) U Turn and got on 278 up to 22 and headed east. Then back down to 28 in Middlesex. Well past Amazing Hot Dogs. So I decided to save that for next time and headed to Middlesex Texas Weiners.
When I got there I realized I had never been there before! For one thing it was on the wrong side of the road from the place I was thinking of. I just looked it up on the internet, and I may have been thinking of Big Daddy’s Texas Weiners (further West on 28). Unless there’s another Texas Weiner place in that same area (John?).
In any event, I had two weiners with everything, and they were real good. My only complaint was that the weiner sauce was a little dry and crumbly, and kept dropping off the dog onto the plate. I’d have to compare them side by side with the one in Downtown Plainfield before declaring a favorite. Come to think of it, I should have done just that, but we headed back up to 22 and home. I will be back to Middlesex Texas Weiners.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Besides having one of the best dogs in the Garden State, Rutt’s also has the fastest service.
Yes, there is an Arthur Treachers, although I didn’t notice it until I was leaving. The 3 for $3.33 also applies to fish sandwiches, but I didn’t check out the details. I saw Arthur Treachers mentioned somewhere, but I didn’t give it much thought. I’m glad to see that Nathan’s is doing well at the mall. The location in Rahway is just horrible. Skinless dogs on the roller grill. And old dogs at that. This Nathan’s was coupled with a Blimpies Sub Shop. I went once. Never again. And it’s a shame too, because people go to this place and think that it represents Nathans. The difference between the Rahway location and the Menlo Park one is like night and day.
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Good topic. And of course there will be a wide range of opinions since there are different tastes. And different likes and dislikes since N.J. has many types of hot dogs and ways of preparing them.
I like the Windmill’s dogs and have been enjoying them more than I have in the past. I was surprised how good my dog tasted on the recent Hot Dog Tour. Many though consider this dog bland. Especially those who favor a spicier all beef hot dog.
Rutt’s Hutt, due to their mild flavor and deep frying elicits the full spectrum of opinions. Described as the best dog in the Universe or the worst. I like their dogs, especially topped with their unique relish. Most of the time I would prefer a beef and pork dog grilled rather than deep fried, though sometimes nothing hits the spot like a well done ripper. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a particular type of dog. But overall I would generally prefer a dog from the Galloping Hill Inn or Windmill to Rutt’s, Hiram’s or other places that fry a beef and pork dog. I can definitely understand Rutt’s being described as overrated. So many people I know of have gone there for the first time with great expectations only to be disappointed. I would say that our friends from Chicago who are used to all beef dogs would probably consider Rutt’s highly overrated. I do know 2 people from Chicago who love the dogs at Rutt’s. I can’t consider them overrated since I happen to enjoy them very much, especially when I get a craving for them. Sort of like the craving I get occasionally for White Castle hamburgers. Not my favorite burger, but sometimes I have to have them.
Hot Dog Johnny’s, in my opinion is the most overrated hot dog. Although there are places that sell more hot dogs, Hot Dog Johnny’s is known by more people than any hot dog joint in the state with the exception of Rutt’s Hut. First time I went to Johnny’s I was expecting a very good dog, though one opinion I read stated that their dogs were bland and overrated. So I wasn’t that surprised to reach that conclusion myself. I thought they were horrible after going the first time. It was a few years later that I returned after hearing ad nauseum that they were good and thinking maybe I just had a bad experience or that Johnny’s had an off day. When I went back, I found that they weren’t horrible, just mediocre. I was expecting a lot due to their reputation which is why I called them horrible.
I have since been back a few times. Once with the Munchmobile and 2 or 3 times since I happenned to be in the area. Compared to even the milder West Jersey dogs, Hot Dog Johnny’s is bland. That was the opinion of the entire 8 member S.W.A.T. Dog Team when we went. And we compared apples with apples as we went to a few places in the area serving the same style dogs. Johnny’s was rated below the others. The skinless dogs come with mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, and a pickle slice. I’ve omitted the ketchup, relish, and onions.
Johnny’s is not only the most popular hot dog joint in West Jersey, but the most popular eatery of any kind. The Star Ledger did an article about this a few years back. The reporter contacted me and wanted me to say something favorable about the place. I just couldn’t. I was quoted as a dissenter.
People who like this place often say (and post) about the atmosphere. Or nostalgia since many grew up eating at Hot Dog Johnny’s. While I agree that atmosphere, setting, nostalgia, etc. may add to or enhance the overall experien,3,440.915,1,7406,188.8.131.52
1354,440,440,2008-12-16 05:42:11,RE: New Jersey Hot Dogs”
Thanks for the directions, too bad I only have 2 days in NJ to try about 20 places. I’ll have to bring a cooler up again. Has anyone tried the Stewarts Root Beer on Rt 22 up near Round Valley? I want to say its either Clinton or Readington Twnshp. Supposedly its under new owners and has outstanding dogs. I havnt been there since about 1991 so have no idea.
Hello all ,
Its good to get these reviews , especially the mixed ones . I try to give the good and less favorable points when I visit an establishment .
Excellent review , very in depth . Almost felt like I was sitting there drinking the pepsi also .
As far as Rutts goes , great dog , John is right on the money as usual .
One question about Rutts , has anyone tried to imitate their relish . Best I’ve ever had .
The Nathan’s at the Galleria/Crystal Run here in Middletown is good also…I think Nathan’s has been doing better with their franchisees/quality control-the one up here is definitely a family run concern…
and hey John…does that Nathan’s have an Arthur Treachers co-branded??
Most Overrated: Hot Dog Johnny’s.
John Fox enumerated the reasons much better than I can.
I went to Boardwalk Hot Dogs today because of the recommendations posted here. I wasn’t expecting to like it because I don’t usually like griddled beef/pork dogs. I was wrong, the Schickhaus dog was very tasty. I liked the way it was griddled and then char broiled. The chili was a good consistency and it had a nice amount of spice. The only negative I had which I also mentioned above for Amazing Hot Dog was the size, but that’s just an excuse to go back to try other menu items. All in all I was very happy with Boardwalk Hot Dogs.
My wife, son and I made a quick trip up to Jimmy Buff’s in East Hanover for lunch yesterday. Sorry to say, but we gave it a totally mixed review.
The food was just fine. I had an Italian Dog (which I thought was a little small, but then again it was only $3.95, I think), and a pushcart dog with great hot onions. My wife was somewhat dismayed to find that her cheeseburger was served in the style of an Italian Hot Dog, with the fried onions and peppers and potatoes. Way too much grease for her. My son had the Chicken finger basket with fries, which he liked, but then again he likes the chicken fingers at his college too.
The problem was with everything else. First of all, it was literally about 45 degrees in the place. When someone ahead of me on line asked the counter lady about it, she just shrugged and said it was because people keep opening the door. (So what’s the solution, not let any customers in??). We rushed thru our food just to get out of there into the warm car, so I can’t say any of us really enjoyed it.
Also, the soda was awful. I’m particular about my draft beer and draft soda, rule #1 should be to clean the damn tubes every day. And the soda was way overpriced, I know there are free refills, but the tiny flimsy plastic cups they give you meant like 4 trips to the soda machine. And no lids. My wife is convinced that it was not true Pepsi syrup coming from the Pepsi spigot.
The ordering system needs work also, it was very busy when we were there, and no one seemed to know who was supposed get what order, the customers were pretty much left to figure it our for themselves, everything was just placed on the pickup counter.
I’ll give it another shot, like in May or something.
Earlier today I found myself in the Menlo Park Mall in Edison wandering around while my wife was trying on clothes. Not one of my favorite things to do. I ended up in the food court where there are so many good choices. I wasn’t really planning on hot dogs, but I saw that Nathan’s was advertising 3 hot dogs for $3.33. I hadn’t had a Nathan’s in awhile, so I got the special with fries.
In the past, Nathan’s has been hit or miss for me. Not all are the same. Some use the skinless version and cook them on those roller things that you see at a movie theatre. The 2 that used to be in my town used the natural casing and cooked them on a griddle like they do in Coney Island, but they were always undercooked. Before today I only found one Nathan’s in Jersey that prepared them right. It was one of the Nathan’s off the Turnpike going south to Pennsylvania.
The dogs I had today were the natural casing dogs cooked on a griddle. They were cooked perfectly. Delicious. Right up there with the best all beef dogs I’ve ever tasted. And a great value at $3.33 for 3. These were 8 to a lb dogs. Even though it says 3 for $3.33 with purchase of fries, I was told that you didn’t have to buy fries. This special is available Fri, Sat, Sun, and Monday only. Definitely worth trying if you are forced to be at the mall.
I think this might cause some good "discusion" but what does everyone think the most overrated hot dog joint in NJ is?
In a 3 way tie…
Hot Dog Johnny’s
Just my $.02
What does everyone else think?
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