It has been a few weeks since I have returned to the California wiener wasteland, but I wanted to comment and express deep gratitude to the excellent advice of Mr. John Fox et al for my hot dog tour of New Jersey. I was able to visit 5 of the recommended places, and found them mostly superb and comforting. In a loose order of favorites, these were all great fun to sample and enjoy:
Syds at the Milburn Mall off of Vauxhall Road: This place was a little tricky to find as the road is closed off right as you enter the strip mall, but it was way worth the effort. Just keep on Vauxhall Road and ignore the road closed signs, as the shopping center is accessible. I chose a boiled, sweet works dog, and being a shy single girl, I got it to go and sat in my rental car to eat it. The sweet mustard sauce and sauerkraut juice had soaked through the bun, making a kind of marshmallowy wrapper for the hot dog, which had a great snap to the bite. Syds has a newspaper article posted about John Fox and his hot dog expertise, even has a picture of him. Not what I expected of a hot dog connoisseur, he must run marathons in his spare time. Anyhow, the next best thing about Syds was the genuinely friendly and kind-hearted waitress. She was so nice, and made me feel at home instantly. Heartbreaking to come back home to the bleak, sunny West coast! If I could move to New Jersey, it would have to be within walking distance to the Millburn Mall, where along with Syds be sure to stop in the bakery for some great Jewish rye bread and pastries, and Tabatchinks smokehouse.
Hot Grill in Clifton and Charlies Famous in Kenilworth were worthy close runners-up. Each were unique in style of hot dog, but tasty. The Texas dog all the way (made me blush just ordering it!) again had that snappy crunch and my sister detected possibly curry as one of the spices in the chili sauce. They had a great special for 4th of July, with plenty of hot dogs and chili, etc. Charlies for the Newark dog, well, awesome. If I had stomach room I would have ordered the push-cart dogs, which were the top choice when we visited.
I did get to the holy grail of New Jersey hot dogs, Rutts Hut, but didnt really have the right company to experience them. Definitely requires another chance on my next trip out East. The hot dogs were excellent, and the chopped cabbage condiment everything I had anticipated, but had to lean against the table-counters listening to my anxious, manic brother-in-law complain about everything from the biker crowd to the hot dog condiment and how there were no chairs inside to sit at the counters. My son and his cousin were at ease in the place, and enjoyed washing down the dogs and fries with several cups of cold Birch beer.
Another Texas wiener choice was Texas Wiener II, think it was in Spring Brook, or near Bound Brook. Snappy dog with savory chili and onions. The comment made by the counter guy at TW II makes me suspect that John Fox is widely read by chowhounds and roadfoodies alike; no one orders hamburgers or chicken anymore, they just want hot dogs, havent sold a hamburger all week.
Besides hot dogs, my sister and I discovered the entity of the NJ/NY Greek-owned diner. Most had signs professing baking done on premises, and the food that we had room for was freshly prepared, tasty and a great value. Favorites; Fontainebleau in Piscataway, Somerset Diner in Somerset, and Mountain View in Middlesex.
Excuse me while I go work out in preparation for my next visit to New Jersey.