David's Kosher is an interesting new hot dog brand that seems to be pushing the "healthy"—or at least "gluten free, uncured, natural"—angle, along with the kosher and regional Chicago angle. These all-beef franks basically taste like a fusion between a New York-style Hebrew National and a milder Chicago Vienna Beef dog. I tested them out with a couple different methods and various levels of toppings.
I was a bit skeptical of Hot Diggity's February special, as I am of many reimagined, fancied-up regional hot dogs. Messing with something like the New Jersey Italian Hot Dog or "NJIHD" —a north Jersey thing, land of the most hard-core hot dog purists in the country—is dangerous. Jersey-style pizza bread made by an organic artisan pizza place in Philadelphia? But guess what? It works.
The other weekend I made it to Hobbs, a coffee shop right outside of Philadelphia, for their one-night only Hot Dog Jamboree. Chef William Randall puts out some really impressive food from a tiny coffeehouse kitchen and recently became hot dog obsessed, whipping up eight different hot dog specials for the event, and even road-tripped into Jersey to source some of the country's best frankfurters.
When you think of great soup dumplings, Philadelphia doesn't immediately spring to mind. But this grimy looking spot (at least on the outside) under a parking garage and next to the recently closed Chinatown Bus Station is one of the best hangover dining options in the city.
When some friends recently came back from New Hampshire, I was expecting maybe a can of Moxie, but not a hot dog package complete with several brands of natural casing New England dogs (stowed in an ice packed cooler) along with a pack of top-split buns. Amazing. These dogs are very, very red too thanks to some artificial dye.
Ever had a Navajo Taco? A cousin of the puffy taco, Navajo Tacos start with a funnel-cake-esque base of frybread, topped with "chili beans", lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese, and can be found at state fairs and Navajo reservations across the southwest. Nearly impossible to find outside of Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, though, we're bringing them to Philadelphia in the form of a pop-up dinner next Monday night.
This year, many of the best dogs came from small butcher shops, where you can buy amazing dogs for as much as you would pay for cheapo national brands in the supermarket. And many of them sell cured meats and regional specialties that you've never even heard of.
Some of the nation's top hot dog chefs have come up with some wild and delicious yuletide-themed concoctions. We've got a lot of reindeer dogs going on as well as some other crazy specials, like a cognac, lamb and pork sausage at Hot Doug's topped with mint mustard cream and double creme brie. And who said Christmas doesn't inspire crazy hot dogs!
It's that time of year again—the time to find an amazing gift for the crazy hot dog maniac in your life. There's plenty of amazing new hot dog stuff this year (see the hot dog guides from 2011 and from 2010), including a brand new book from a hot dog historian, hot dog cooking gadgets, t-shirts, and a whole bunch of delicious mail-order sauces.
On a sluggish Saturday morning, John's is exactly the place I want to be. Perhaps the word's not out yet—the Saturday I visited, there was absolutely no line, and service was quick and no-nonsense. The entire menu is available, including roast pork, beef, cheesesteaks and the like, but the Italian meets old school Philly sandwiches are exactly what I need when I'm still slightly drunk from the night before. Try the scrapple and eggs with American cheese and a side of cherry peppers pictured up top, or the thick cut pork roll on a kaiser bun, all cooked on a grill seasoned with 80 years of Philly's best steaks.
A few months ago, I took a hot dog tour of West Virginia (the northern part of the state at least) and one of my main goals was finally trying the infamous Yann's. Known as the "hot dog nazi", Russell Yann serves up hot dogs from a tiny eight-seat shack with no hours and no sign, and a barebones menu of hot dogs, pepperoni rolls and "white" or "brown" bottles of milk. There's something magical going on with these hot dogs.
The hot dog purist in me wants to hate this sort of thing, and really how many carb-on-carb stomach bombs topped with stuffing and mashed potatoes can you eat, but I'm always surprised by how inventive and truly tasty these things are every year. This year's crop of Thanksgiving-inspired dogs was created with even more finesse and balance. Sure, some of them are pushing the "hot dog" definition, they still look so damn good.
Coming down out of the mountains after 5 days of camping, whiskey, and Old German lager I found myself in Keyser, West Virginia in desperate need of breakfast. We stumbled upon the Royal Restaurant, a local place covered in wood paneling, motorcycle art, and old soda signs, empty except for a table of local old timers reading the paper and looking at us like we were from Mars.
Pizza Brain, the World's First / Largest Pizza Museum and restaurant that opened last month here in Philadelphia, is kicking it up a notch with the "Frankford Avenue Taco" ($5) that consists of a slice of cheese pizza topped with a big scoop of pizza-flavored ice cream from the restaurant's conjoined Little Baby's Ice Cream counter.
I found the hot dog holy grail at Net Cost, an Eastern European superstore in northeast Philly (with several outlets in Brooklyn) that has more natural casing hot dog brands than I've ever seen in one place, not to mention a selection of cured and smoked meats that rivals anything I've ever seen in my life. Take a hot dog tour of the supermarket with me!
Romaine lettuce and red onions on a hoagie? Absolute blasphemy in South Philly! What looked like a misguided attempt at something "gourmet" was actually delicious. This one's going on my Philly Hoagie Top 10 list.
The story is that West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls were developed as meals for Italian-American coal miners—easy to carry, and held up for a few hours down in the mines. Take a trip on the pepperoni roll highway with our own Hawk Krall as he tours the favorite gas station grub of West Virginia.
Every small town in West Virginia seems to have at least a handful of crazy little hot dog shacks—many of which double as coffeeshops or video poker parlors—that pride themselves not on high quality frankfurters, but on the spiciness of the homemade chili or creaminess of their slaw.
One of the best things about living and eating in South Philly is not only having terrific hoagies and pizza every 2 blocks, but also delicious Mexican food from the new taquerias that seem to open up every 2 weeks. Even more amazing is watching the two meld at combination taqueria-pizzeria-cheesesteak shops.
Mini tomato pie bakery pizza can be found at a small chain of Italian bakeries in Newark called Calandra's. The personal pizzas, served at room temperature, are made from a light, spongey dough and hit home with the "comfort food" receptors.
I've tasted and written about almost every different Greek-rooted hot dog sauce in the country here on Hot Dog of the Week from Cincinnati to Detroit, New York to Alabama. But one glaring omission from my regional meat sauce knowledge was Rochester Beef Hot Sauce, an integral ingredient of Rochester's famous Garbage Plate, and also an essential topping for Rochester's local Zweigle's Dogs, split and flat-grilled, covered in sauce and known as Texas Hots or simply Hots.
Serpe's tomato pie is the real deal, as good as or maybe even better than your average Philly bakery. The dough color and soft texture are identical to the Philly-style, and slices are medium thick with a nice, fresh tasting red sauce that's sweet but not ridiculously so.
Ippolito's is a neighborhood South Philly fish market (that also supplies a lot of restaurants) not too far from where I live. I've stopped in to pick up fish to cook for dinner numerous times but hadn't tried any of their sandwiches until recently. I expected them to be pretty good, and at least 10 times fresher than the sketchy corner store fish hoagies I like to write about—but this thing was incredible.
If you like crazy food, hot dogs, or interesting regional stuff, the New Jersey Italian Hot Dog is not one to miss, and Tommy's is a great place to try it.
Some of these are seriously up there with the best dogs in the country. This is why you should never, ever buy a pack of tasteless, mushy grocery store hot dogs in Philadelphia ever again.
When you get me started on places to eat in Philadelphia, I get excited pretty quickly. When you ask me about brunch in Philadelphia, you'll be hard-pressed to shut me up. Going to college in this fine culinary city meant I was an expert on brunch; specifically, the places with brunches that could really cure a hangover. There were plenty of solid greasy spoon options (Bui's food truck, I'm looking at you), but White Dog was a little more classy—and right near campus.
If you read a lot of Indian novels, you'll know that people sometimes use "veg" and "nonveg" as shorthand for "tame" and "sexy," respectively. But as we ate our way across Mumbai, through Rajasthan, and into central India, we discovered that when it came to food, the opposite was true. The vegetarian fare we ate was so much better, so much fresher, and so much more interesting than the nonvegetarian offerings. Here are some highlights from a month of eating around India: chaat, pakoras, samosas, papad, and more.
After the wild success that was Burger Day 3000, the boys of Burger Day are back for their fourth beef patty tour of Chicago by visiting five restaurants in one day. The quality wasn't as good this time around, but the day was every bit as fun.
Walking into Kurowski's and ordering "kielbasa" would probably get you laughed out of the store. Because that's like walking into Baskin Robbins and ordering "ice cream." Kielbasa really just means sausage, so to navigate Kurowski's, you'd better come prepared with some more specific instructions.
Rhea's certainly isn't reinventing the wheel here. What they are doing is serving up a satisfyingly sloppy diner burger that's plenty special in my book.
Since 1924, Long Beach locals have been flocking to Joe Jost's, a mellow bar that serves up beers at 29 degrees (they even have a thermometer showing the current temperature) by the schooner along with pickled eggs, chili peppers, peanuts, pretzels, and a delicious little sandwich called the "Joe's Special." For $2.95, bartenders will give you a Polish sausage wrapped in a fresh slice of rye bread, served with Swiss cheese, a pickle and mustard.
After two years of writing this column, I get asked fairly often if I'm sick of hot dogs. But there's so many regional nuances and new places opening that, no, it doesn't ever get boring. One thing that definitely keeps it exciting is discovering super bizarre old-school hot dog stands that I've never heard of tucked away in some forgotten neighborhood at the bottom of Philadelphia, like RJ's.
While Ron's is certainly thriving, the burgers, though quite good, just aren't the same. Thankfully, the crown has been passed to Claud's. Drive down Peoria past the glitzy part to a neighborhood of cleaners and tire repair shops and you'll see a small white building just like the mom and pop roadside diners described 70 years ago in chapter 15 of Grapes of Wrath. Inside, little has changed since the day it opened.
The "Sicilian Slabs" at Micucci Grocery Store in Portland, ME are a "geography" of primary colors: puffy red peaks, creamy chasms of white cheese, and charred black bubbles of crust.
For all that I've grilled (150-plus recipes and counting), there's always plenty of uncharted territory. One of those areas: planking. There aren't usually many planking recipes in cookbooks, save the ubiquitous planked salmon. Put simply, planking is cooking food directly on a piece of hardwood. When cooking this way, the surface of the food touching the wood picks up some of the plank's natural flavors.
In January 2010, The Star Ledger touted Mr. Bruno's Pizzeria of Lyndhurst, NJ to have the best Sicilian slice in the state. Anthony, Joseph, and Lenny Livreri, the current proprietors, bought this local favorite a couple of years ago from their uncle-in-law Steve Bruno, who opened the original pizzeria two storefronts down in the late 1960s.
There's no denying that the Japanese have some seriously bizarre food treatments, particularly when Western food gets involved. Deep-fried hamburgers filled with potato salad? Apparently sticking two American things together makes it extra American. At Gourmet Dog Japon, they serve beef sausages, meatballs, chicken sausages and Polish kielbasa with a slew of Japanese toppings, like bonito flakes and pickled red ginger.
Star Tavern makes an amazingly great thin-crust pizza. I'm craving the stuff as I type this, and not just because I haven't had breakfast yet. If you don't already live in Orange, or in Essex County (because if you do, you already know this), Star is worth a detour — and even a trip.
I was quite excited when I heard that the Pabst Brewing Company was fixing to replace the stuff I'd been drinking with a re-creation of the original Schlitz formula. I grabbed the new-old Schlitz and also a few other beers of its kind, so as to conduct the blind tasting that would finally prove that my preference wasn't based on packaging, euphony, or false nostalgia.
Hot dogs. Probably the world's most popular fast food, and by far the ruler of Scandinavian street food. The three Scandinavian countries all have their own varieties and local traditions, but they all have one thing in common: They absolutely love hot dogs. From boiled to grilled, with or without condiments, homemade or bought at the local hotdog pusher; Scandinavians jump on every chance they get to grab a dog.
Scott's only serves whole hog barbecue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. During those three days the stores sells 15 to 20 hogs' worth (between 2,000 and 2,800 pounds) of smoked pork, attracting visitors from miles around. The rest of the week, Scott's is not much more than a half-stocked, rustic convenience mart with doors that seldom open for regular business.
Hill Country Chicken chef Elizabeth Karmel is on a mission that's close to my heart: she wants New Yorkers to have a casual fried chicken and pie joint that they can be proud of. Good timing, right? Fried chicken is, well, as hot as a Fry-o-lator full of peanut oil in New York. And pie isn't far behind.
A legendary Los Angeles taco stand makes one of the best fast food style burgers in town.
The Trenton, New Jersey, area is home to a particular style of pizza known as the "tomato pie." The generally accepted explanation of the genre is that a tomato pie is built as follows: dough, cheese, toppings, and then sauce. Slice's Nick Solares tries two of the area's finest in this report.
The Dapper Dog cart comes out for lunch a few days a week, and every Friday and Saturday night on the bar-choked corner of 2nd and Poplar Street in the city's Northern Liberties section of Philly. The menu is total drunk food, the kind of thing I might try to make at home after 12 beers and maybe a funny-tasting cigarette: hot dogs topped with pepperoni, tomato sauce, asparagus, mac and cheese, fried eggs. They also do all sorts of specials, such as the mashed potato dog above or a "Greek hot dog" which is basically the contents of a Greek salad piled onto a hot dog.
These Albóndigas or little meatballs, fried and braised in a saffron scented tomato sauce, are a tapas bar staple. They are much lighter both in texture and flavor than their Italian-American counterparts but the basic preparation is very similar. The meatballs are made from a mix of ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, parsley, and white wine, then coated in flour and deep fried.
Street food can just mean hot dogs or shawarma in many cities, but in Portland, Oregon, sidewalk chefs are reinventing this formerly humble food genre as we speak (or eat, as the case may be). Name a food and it's probably being hawked from a cart, truck, trailer, or even bike. While other cities have onerous laws preventing vendors from securing a permit and setting up at a specific location on a regular basis, Portland is all about the street food culture. There are "pods" all over the city, essentially food courts in parking lots and other open spaces, just devoted to street food. There are far too many to pick from, but here are five vendors that really caught my eye. Obviously there are plenty of others with inspired, cheap, and delicious food—chime in with your favorites.
[Photograph: Adam Kuban] Nick Sherman. [Photograph: pizzarules.com] Before I draw down the wrath of the formidable type-design community with the headline above, let me just say that I wrote it with love after recognizing in them a certain amount of kinship. Why am I even talking about letter headz? Because where the worlds of pizza geekery and type obsessives intersect you'll find Nick Sherman. Pizza freaks may know Mr. Sherman as the dude behind Pizza Rules! Font freaks likely know him from Woodtyper, his recent overhaul of the design at MyFonts, and his new job with Font Bureau. Anyway,...
The Hawallan torta at Puebla Mini Mart takes its tropical name from a thick slice of grilled pineapple that lies within the center of this massive sandwich. It's surrounded by slices of griddled ham, spicy carne enchilada, quesillo (think Mexican string cheese), refried beans, chipotles in adobo, tomatoes, onions, avocado, and pickled jalapeño all stuffed into a soft bollilo roll and pressed until warm and crisp.
In Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone's hands, the Italian-American classics we'd all long thought tired seem fresh and original.