Having just seen the newly-revived discussion about "rippers", which recently included mention of Fab Hot Dogs in Reseda, DH and I decided to travel the 30 miles or so from our house to go try some dogs. Being a former Jersey Girl, I was practically raised on Rutt's Hut rippers (for those of you who have never heard of them, they are hot dogs with a casing that "rips" when cooked in hot oil), so I headed to Reseda with both great anticipation and wariness.
As we entered the unassuming storefront, we found a clean and cheerful interior with 3 tables on one side and two stools next to a tiny counter on the other. Taking up an entire wall was an extensive menu, featuring different dogs, some burgers, and many toppings. Among the offerings are The Bald Eagle (ripper with mustard relish), Coney Island (chili, cheddar cheese, diced onions and mustard), L.A. Street Dog (bacon-wrapped all-beef dog, grilled onions & peppers, diced tomato, jalapenos, mustard, mayo & ketchup), Spicy Hatch Green Chile Dog (roasted Hatch chiles with jack cheese & mustard), and a Carolina Slaw Dog (homemade chili, mustard and southern cole slaw). There are also double dogs (such as the Sonora Dog, consisting of two dogs on a toasted sub roll with bacon, tomatillo salsa, Jack cheese, pinto beans, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion & sour cream), a few different French fry options, and tater tots. I went for the Bald Eagle, while DH tried one as well, along with an L.A. Street Dog. After we ordered them, the owner showed us the ripper before he applied the toppings, because he said he likes to show them to people, I think so they know what they're getting (and let's face it, a ripper has an unusual look). We got to chatting, and he said that he and his wife had taken an East Coast hot dog tour so they could try different styles (as reflected on the menu). He also said that his rippers are supplied by the same place that supplies Rutt's Hut, and that he had to convince them to ship the dogs out to him.
Finally, the moment of truth had arrived... Well, actually, the Street Dog came out first, so DH chowed down on that as I waited (okay, I had a bite too!). Really good--I'm not one to put jalapenos on my hot dogs, but I liked it, and hubby enjoyed the smokey flavor the bacon added. (As a disclaimer, we can't compare them to actual L.A. street dogs, as neither of us has been initiated enough to try them, despite passing by trays of them many a time after a Hollywood Bowl performance--but, that's a whole other discussion!) We were told that the Fab relish was different than Rutt's, and it was. Carrots, a long-rumored "secret ingredient" of Rutt's relish, were in visible evidence here. I liked the crunchy texture of the relish a lot, but to anyone who expects Rutt's relish, be forewarned that this is not the same. Good in its own right, though. As for the hot dog, I liked it very much. I actually would have preferred a bit more crunch or snap (maybe next time I'll ask for it well-done), but it was still very tasty. DH enjoyed his as well. Can't comment on the fries or tots, as we didn't have any, but next time I'll have to try the Garlic Ranch fries--yum!
The owner was super-nice--he said they'd been open about 6 weeks, and when I told him I'd discovered the place from a thread on Chowhound, he was very intrigued. I really like the idea of the menu including different regional styles of hot dogs, and I can't wait to go back to try some different kinds.
So, the final analysis? Well, to me, nothing can replace my beloved Rutt's Hut rippers (though I think part of that is the overall atmosphere, including the surly waitresses, wood paneling, and knowing that the place has been around since my grandparents were dating there), but Fab does a really good job. And considering that a drive to Reseda from the Westside is a lot quicker and cheaper than a flight to Newark, I'll be back again for sure, especially since this is the first time I've seen rippers on this coast at all.
6747 Tampa Ave.
Reseda, CA 91335 (just south of Vanowen)