Hot Dog Of The Week: Jimmy John's Piping Hot Sandwiches
I first wrote about Jimmy John's just a little over a year ago, after this legendary hot dog stand burned to the ground on the morning of their 70th anniversary. I was especially sad to have never been there after learning about the connection to Andrew Wyeth, an acclaimed American illustrator who lived nearby and upon finishing a painting would reward himself with one of Jimmy John's natural casing "special frankfurters."
The West Chester area outside of Philadelphia has a handful of hot dog places—a sort of mini hot dog culture of which Jimmy John's was the king. So it was great to see them re-open last year with a shiny new restaurant, still filled with model trains and old photos rescued from the fire. It's a pretty big building for a hot dog joint, with two dining rooms and more of a fast food feel where you order at the counter and top your dogs and burgers from the self service fixings bar.
Jimmy John's fat, short, steamed "specially made" frankfurters are shockingly good just plain on the bun, and until recently were one of the few (or only) natural casing hot dogs available in Philadelphia. Extra snappy with a thick casing, the dogs are super juicy inside, similar in texture to a Zweigle's but flavor-wise closer to an all-beef kosher dog.
Also really unique are the buns they use: double wide and soft like an Amoroso cheesesteak roll. Often called a club roll, this is the bun of choice for several old-school Philly hot dog joints and, in my opinion, is a superior choice for "Philadelphiafying" a hot dog. Most newer places here go with hoagie rolls, which can turn into a bread overload if you're not careful.
The club rolls are used for all of Jimmy John's sandwiches, from pork roll-egg-and-cheese to this standard diner style four-ounce burger with American cheese, elevated a bit with the awesome bun.
The chili cheese fries also hit the spot, crispy fries buried underneath a ridiculous amount of cheese whiz and bright red chili. But I really recommend this place for the hot dogs, one of the most unique in Philly if not the country. This place lives up to its reputation and should be the one of the first stops for any hot dog aficionado visiting Philadelphia.
If you're out this way you might also want to check out John's Doggie Shop, a tiny no-frills lunch counter with great milkshakes and Texas weiner-style chili dogs, or Wally's Weiner World, a stand in downtown West Chester that may or may not still be in operation.