Oh dear, don’t even get me started on how much fail the LA Street Food Fair was to us. It was too packed to even drive by it, much less get in. While en route, a friend texted me to say they’d shut the gates because there were too many people there. So much for hitting up the food carts all in one go on this day trip to LA.
Alicia and I gave up and went to the Fashion District to run other errands, and picked up bacon-wrapped hot dogs there. With NO QUEUES, thank you very much.
A hot dog, piled high with grilled onions, pico de gallo and guacamole, sipping a Mexican coke, sitting at a table watching people bustling by with arm loads of clothing and funky fabric. Fine by me.
LA Fashion District
What trip to New York is complete without a forage for one of my favorite street foods, a hot dog. I may have just eaten a good portion of curry, but walking towards the subway there was Gray’s Papaya.
I’d walked by the place, or one of its many fruity imitators a number of times on my stay, but never stopped in. Finally, opportunity.
Gray’s Papaya has maintained a Recession Special for years, regardless of being in a recession or not. It was apt now, and a good deal – Two hot dogs and one tropical fruit drink for just a smidge over $5.00.
I ordered just a simple hot dog, with sauerkraut, and added mustard.
The man behind the counter asked if I was from Virginia. “No, Santa Barbara.”
“Santa Barbara!” he said. Then he looked at the man standing in the queue behind me. “Santa Barbara!” he said to him. The man looked surprised and said, “How did you know?”
What is up with that, Santa Barbarans all decided to be in New York that week. I didn’t know him, but he did explain to me he was really from Carpinteria. Yes, from an east coast perspective that is Santa Barbara.
My hot dog was good.
I’m a Chicago tourist pure and true. For Chicago-style hot dogs, I had two places on my list of possabilities, and SuperDawg was too far away. The other one was Portillo’s.
Well, my Chicago lunch companion approved, and thus we dined.
Order at the counter, scoot over to pick up area and loiter around until the numbers are randomly called. The number caller will serve up an extra side of sass if you don’t *race* up and grab your food within microseconds.
I have an odd fascination with both hot dogs and cheese sauce, and coincidentally I ordered the all beef dog and cheese fries. I had no idea I’d get a little tub of cheese sauce just like the kind I normally fawn over. This was a match made in heaven.
They are open late, the owner is super nice, the chili cheese fries are TEH YUM.
Turn your dog into a combo meal for $2.50, or $3.00 if you want the beverage to be a beer. The combo includes the beverage and choice of fries, churro or giant pickle.
If you’re there at the right time, they also have fresh funnel cake. I was there at the right time and took a picture.
Extra kudos go to the owner, who has to put up with all sorts of drunken nastiness on the weekend nights, and yet every day is friendly and helpful. I haven’t even been there too many times and he recognizes me and hands me some discount cards.
Side note: if you look down at the ground at the entrance, you’ll see a colorful mosaic saying “GO FISH.” That’s from a former occupant of the space. I’m glad Mad Dogs kept the mosaic, it’s piddee.
Lettuce B. Frank is the second iteration of the Doghouse business formerly on Milpas St. Rumor has it the investors wanted to move in another direction that wasn’t primarily based on hot dogs. I was upset when the Doghouse closed so upruptly, but very pleased to see Lettuce B. Frank now open for business on State Street.
Silly name aside, Lettuce B. Frank sells…guess. Give up? Okay, I’ll tell you. Salads and hot dogs.
But it’s salads and hot dogs with a fun twist if that’s what your little heart desires. You can be a purist or you can be an adventurist, it’s all up to you and Lettuce B. Frank will be happy to accommodate you.
I tried out the joint for the first time about a week ago and came away very pleased. The interior is fun, vibrant, splashy and hip. Lunch patrons included tourists, biz casual folks, and blue collars.
I also ordered the NY Deli style that I remembered from the Doghouse. It had sauerkraut and spicy deli mustard. The twist was that they stuck it in the panini press, so I got all that dog, kraut and mustard goodness packed into a hot grilled bun that had a pleasant crunch to the outer shell.
My meal also came with a spicy maple and mayo dipping sauce. I don’t know if was meant to accompany the southern fries or the dog, but I had it with both without any ill effects.
A man in a pork pie hat strutted into the shop and was super friendly to anyone nearby. He asked if he could get me anything. I believe he was one of the owners.
It took a few minutes to get my friend’s and my order together, the reason being that they were preparing everything fresh. I saw fries go into a big bowl to fold in seasonings. I cannot confirm this, but it looked like they were making the fries in the Belgian style – twice cooked – and I do think that makes a superior french fry.
Looking back, I think the southern fries were enough for a full lunch meal – it was piled with pulled pork, and also had a good portion of red cabbage coleslaw on top.
The panini hot dog, while I wouldn’t call it a NY Deli style anymore due to being press-grilled, was a fun change I wasn’t expecting.
There are times when I just want a simple hot dog, yellow. And there are times when I want the cook to be an artist and his food to be his canvas. Just my luck that Lettuce B. Frank has both.
And don’t forget they have fresh salads!
Lettuce B. Frank
I admit it, I love hot dogs. I own this PBS documentary about hot dogs in America that talks about the history and popularity of hot dogs, regional variations, and popular hot dog joints across the United States.
That doesn’t mean the Hot Dog Factory got a mention on the show – it didn’t – but what I’m leading up to here is that I got a teaser of all the kinds of hot dogs out there, including the Slaw Dog. That’s a hot dog with coleslaw. Don’t say “ew!” Don’t say ew unless you’ve tried it, okay.
And you can try one at the Hot Dog Factory! This is where I had my first, thanks to their menu that offers variations normally associated with different regions. They had the standard dog, chili dog, Chicago style with the pickle wedge and celery salt, NY deli mustard and kraut…and so on.
My stomach barely has room for one dog or just chili cheese fries, but I usually order one dog and french fries, and I *want* to order two dogs and french fries. Sometimes life can be unfair that way.
Oh, and all seating is outdoors. You order at a walk-up counter outside and can eat it as some small tables. Not good if it’s raining, not that I’ve been rained on before. I can just tell.
Hot Dog Factory