There are people in Los Angeles who’ll tell you that Pink's on La Brea sell the world’s best hotdogs. I wouldn’t know. As I get ever more curmudgeonly I find I’m ever less prepared to wait in line for things, and I’m particularly reluctant to stand in line for a hotdog. At most hours of the day and night, certainly at any hour you might actually want to eat, Pink's has the longest lines of any restaurant I’ve ever seen. I can understand that this might be a mark of the quality of their hotdogs, but you know, how great can a hotdog be?
I admit I have stood in line for hotdogs at Dodger Stadium in order to buy Dodger Dogs and beer, but that was only because I had no choice: a baseball game being incomplete without them, and in fact the line moved pretty quickly. Here the objection was the price. A man shouldn’t have to remortgage his home in order to be able to buy a hotdog and a beer. At least the Dodger Dog is big, though not nearly as elegant as it appears in the image above.
The last hotdogs I ate at home were cheese dogs, which sounded like a good idea at the time, hot dogs with a vein of liquid cheese running through them – they don’t have those back in the homeland. I thought they were genuinely foul, as though the dogs had developed some kind of disease that created hot yellow pus. We still have them in the freezer and I want to throw them out, but the Loved One hates to waste food (as in general do I) and she insists a moment will come when cheese dogs are exactly what we want. I continue to doubt this.
All this has made me doubt whether I even like hotdogs. So when my pal Scott suggested going to the new Coney Dog on Sunset Strip for some Detroit-style hotdogs, I was game enough, but my hopes weren’t quite as high as they would have been if he’d said let’s go to Petrossian and sample some caviar.
Scott hails from Detroit and he assures me the Sunset Strip version is authentic enough. A Coney Dog, I now know, consists of a beef hotdog covered in chilli, with some raw onion and a line of mustard. As for why this is a Detroit-style Coney Dog, rather than say a Detroit Dog, well that’s because the inventor, George Todoroff, was a Greek immigrant who arrived in Michigan by way of Coney Island, and opened his restaurant, Todoroff's Original Coney Island, in 1914 actually in Jackson rather than Detroit. Perhaps he thought the name Coney Island smacked of metropolitan fun. In any case, imitators sprang up in the surrounding area, including Detroit, and I guess that Detroit just has better name-recognition than Jackson. Of course there are local variations, and local rivalries, but I gather that a truly authentic Detroit dog has to have beef heart in the chilli, and the dogs have to be Koegel Viennas. I can’t swear that the Sunset Strip outpost reaches this level of authenticity.
There was no line and no wait, which was a very good thing and I’m happy to say I was served two of the very best hotdogs I’ve ever tasted. You may think, given my prejudices this isn’t a very high hurdle, but they were genuinely good. I had a Coney Dog, and for comparison an LA Street Dog, wrapped in bacon and scattered with jalapeno slices. Not least of the attractions was the bun, and the bun is so important. It can easily taste like cotton wool, these actually tasted like bread.
To make it thoroughly authentic, Scott drank a Faygo Original Redpop but I contented myself with a “craft beer” (when did that stupid term gain currency?) Incidentally, the menu describes the LA Street Dog as the “opposite” of a kosher hotdog, not by any means anti-Jewish, just wrapped in bacon. I suppose it would be equally the "opposite" of an halal hotdog. That's all right then.