What to Eat in Los Angeles: Chili Cheese Dog
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What: A hot dog slathered with mustard, chili, and onion atop slices of American cheese in health-conscious, vegan-loving LA? Well, it’s not just any hot dog, but that from a 70-year-old Hollywood institution.
Where: Love it or hate it, Pink’s (multiple locations, including the original at 709 N. La Brea Ave.) makes no signs of slowing down. When owners Paul and Betty Pink started selling $0.10 hot dogs from a stand back in 1939, they could never have imagined the unrelenting lines and sheer variety of wieners, many of them named for the celebrities who invented them, for which the place is known today. It is Hollywood’s great equalizer: rich or poor, skinny or fat, tourist or local — everyone hits up Pink’s when the craving strikes, at least once.
When: Sunday to Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Always expect a line.
Order: The chili dog, with mustard and chopped onion ($3.45), and the chili cheese dog, adding some slices of American to the mix ($3.90; pictured), are the trademark orders here. The all-beef hot dogs, made by Hoffy, have a natural casing, so beneath all that stuff, you do get a nice, much-needed snap — the chili and steamed roll are quite soft and texture-less without it. We wished the cheese melted faster, but at the same time were glad it wasn’t Cheez Whiz. It’s a brash, messy dog that’s probably amazing at 1 a.m., after a few drinks.
The chili cheese dog looks downright tame, however, next to everything else on the menu. There are wieners with guacamole, bacon, and sour cream; Polish dogs wrapped in flour tortillas; hot dogs wrapped in onion rings and topped with barbecue sauce. The celebrity orders take things to another level: The Ozzy Spicy Dog, for instance, tops a spicy Polish dog with nacho and American cheeses, grilled onion, guacamole, and chopped tomato; the 10-inch Martha Stewart dog has relish, onion, bacon, chopped tomato, sauerkraut, and sour cream. Is that a good thing? You’ll have to be the judge.
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