Slideshow: Five Great Hot Dogs in Northern New Jersey

Galloping Hill Inn, Union, New Jersey
Galloping Hill Inn, Union, New Jersey
One of the biggest hot dog movers in the state, the Galloping Hill Inn features a walk-up counter, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and a prime spot at a busy intersection with a big parking lot.

This is the lot where my guide hotdoglover (A.K.A. John Fox) and I started our day-long tube-steak extravaganza. Little did I know how much processed pork and beef I had in store for me that afternoon.

Hambone and Yube, my own little hot dogs, were along for the ride, on leftovers duty.

Galloping Hill Inn: 35 Chestnut Street, Union NJ 07083 (map); 908-686-2683; gallopinghillcaterers.com/

A Couple of Single Dogs
A Couple of Single Dogs
The dogs at the Galloping Hill Inn are an anomaly on this trip, as they're the only ones that use artificial collagen casings. Common amongst kosher hot dogs (typical hot dog casings made from lamb mixed with beef are a no-no under kosher law), Galloping Hill uses them to ensure a more consistent sizing on their 6 to a pound pork and beef dogs.

Personally, I prefer the slightly tighter snap of a natural casing, but John says that he likes 'em just the same.

Galloping Hill Inn: 35 Chestnut Street, Union NJ 07083 (map); 908-686-2683; gallopinghillcaterers.com/

Needs More Meat
Needs More Meat
The beef and pork franks are made of a secret recipe based off of the hot dogs from Gaiser's in Union, New Jersey, though these days they're packed by Grote & Weigel using the same recipe. They're tasty—mildly spiced and snappy—but with a single dog inside the custom-baked buns, I find the ratio of bread to dog to be a little overwhelming. Next time I'll take John's advice and go for a double dog.

Galloping Hill Inn: 35 Chestnut Street, Union NJ 07083 (map); 908-686-2683; gallopinghillcaterers.com/

John Fox and Rob Marciano Talk Shop
John Fox and Rob Marciano Talk Shop
When we arrived, Rob was busy behind the window experimenting with new flavors. "I'm always trying to work something new up," he told us. This iteration: a bacon wrapped dog with chopped lettuce and tomato. "My son and I were eating BLTs the other night, and it just kinda dawned on me that this'd work as a hot dog topping."

Marci's Dog House: 136 Oak Ridge Road, Clark NJ 07066 (map); 732-713-5987

The BLT Dog
The BLT Dog
The base for all of Marci's regular hot dogs is a 10-to-a-pound natural casing dog from Sabrett's—my personal favorite. Spicy, with plenty of garlic, paprika, and smoke. He cooks his dogs dirty-water style, though he's considering adding a griddle to the truck to crisp the dogs before bunning 'em.

Marci's Dog House: 136 Oak Ridge Road, Clark NJ 07066 (map); 732-713-5987

The Strubelkraut
The Strubelkraut
Marci's most popular topping is their "Strubelkraut," a house-made sauerkraut made from fresh and cooked cabbage, a blend of spices, four different mustards, and a hint of relish. It's spicy, tangy, and sweet, with great crunch from the mix of fresh and cooked cabbage. I'd let this kraut top my dog any day.

Marci's Dog House: 136 Oak Ridge Road, Clark NJ 07066 (map); 732-713-5987

The Italian
The Italian
The real draw at Marci's is his phenomenal Italian Hot Dog, which Fox proclaims to be the best around. You'll find Italian hot dogs—that's deep fried dogs stuffed into sliced pizza bread along with deep fried onions, peppers, and potatoes—but Marci's are distinguished by a few key steps.

First, the dogs are top quality Best Provision 6-to-a-pound skinless franks. Larger than anywhere else. Rather than simply dumping all the ingredients into the same deep fryer, Rob treats each ingredient separately, shallow frying the onions and peppers and finishing them in a skillet, deep frying the potatoes in two batches to get'em extra-crispy, and deep frying the dogs to order. It's a mess, but a hugely delicious mess.

Marci's Dog House: 136 Oak Ridge Road, Clark NJ 07066 (map); 732-713-5987

Jerry's Famous Frankfurters
Jerry's Famous Frankfurters
A 63 year old Elizabeth institution, it's hard to imagine much has changed here aside from the prices and the lustre on the signage. The current operator Miguel Patrikios was a little testy the day we visited, complaining that his 8-to-a-bound Best's natural casing dogs were looking a little skinny. "Sometimes they come in like your little pinky," he said. Part of the price you pay for natural casings, and worth the cost of admission for their hefty snap, in my opinion.

Jerry's Famous Frankfurters: 906 2nd Avenue, Elizabeth NJ 07201 (map); 908-355-4242

Chili Dog and Plain Dog with Mustard
Chili Dog and Plain Dog with Mustard
Jerry's cooks their dogs in a two-step process, starting them off in hot water ("You have to plump them first," explained Miguel), then finishing them in a griddle-like steel compartment to impart some crispness. The chili is loose, but flavorful, and the Sunshine Brand yellow mustard is nice and hot. These were some of my favorite dogs of the day.

Jerry's Famous Frankfurters: 906 2nd Avenue, Elizabeth NJ 07201 (map); 908-355-4242

Tommy's Regular Hot Dog
Tommy's Regular Hot Dog
The dogs come out crisp and snappy, topped with an onion-heavy chili that tastes almost like a cross between hot dog chili and the stewed onions you'll find at New York hot-doggeries.

Tommy's Italian Sausage and Hot Dog: 900 2nd Avenue, Elizabeth NJ 07201 (map); 908-351-9831

Tommy's Italian
Tommy's Italian
A more traditional Italian dog, Tommy's fries everything together in a single tilted steel pan deep fryer. The potato disks are greasy with a slightly crisp edge, the onions sand peppers are properly soft, and the 8-to-a-pound skinless franks are blistered and hot.

Tommy's Italian Sausage and Hot Dog: 900 2nd Avenue, Elizabeth NJ 07201 (map); 908-351-9831

Manny's Texas Weiners
Manny's Texas Weiners
A gigantic sit-down restaurant in Vauxhall, Manny's has a massive menu that encompasses everything from breakfast staples to burgers. But the real draw is the dogs, which according to Fox are in a style from the Plainfield area of Texas. That means a natural casing, pork and beef, lightly spiced mix. The sheep casing dogs come 6-to-a-pound, making them extra-long. The best part of the dog is biting off the ends protruding from the buns, crisp and snappy from their time on the griddle.

Manny's Texas Weiner: 2580 Springfield Avenue, Vauxhall NJ 07088(map); 908-964-3585; mannystexasweiners.com