Cheap Eats: Hot Dogs


Icon by Peter Hoey

Let’s Be Frank Can a $5 hot dog be (relatively) healthful and still taste respectable? The franks and brats grilled inside Sue Moore’s tiny red kitchen-on-wheels are made from grass-fed, grass-finished Northern California beef that’s been raised without hormones and cured without nitrates. These aren’t twee weenies, though. They’re the heftiest in town, served—on request—with homemade butter pickles and grilled onions. Hands down, L.A.’s best hot dog. » Helms Bakery complex, Helms Ave., Culver City, 415-515-8084

Original Tommy’s We have Tom’s burgers, Tommy Jr’s, and then there is the Original Tommy’s, home to L.A.’s most familiar and still greatest chili dog—topped with onions, pickles, tomatoes, and an indelicate native brown sauce that trumps traditional French cooking. The original Original, however, is the Tommy’s that has stood sentry since 1946 at the crossroads of Rampart and Beverly boulevards, where cops, suits, fly girls, gangsters, Sinaloan crooners, and gear heads all jockey for position in a chili-stained parking lot. » 2575 W. Beverly Blvd., L.A., 213-389-9060. Also in Burbank, Eagle Rock, Long Beach, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Van Nuys, and other locations.

Pink’s Let us agree that the hype can be insufferable, the franchising questionable, the lines—lemmings, you are!—perplexingly interminable. We would love to sneer, but we have just bitten into a spicy Polish and, well, the snap of that intestinal casing, the audible eruption of a red hot, has reminded us why the Hollywood institution is in its 70th year. It comes with onion, chili, and mustard, but we hardly noticed. » 709 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood, 323-931-4223.

Skooby’s A hot dog bun’s texture should be softer than a marshmallow’s and, above all, unobtrusive. The seditionists at Skooby’s have smashed that doctrine, grilling a bun, smearing it with garlic, and dropping in a dog with bite. The sidewalk stand also serves L.A.’s crunchiest chili fries and a peppery dip they call aioli. It’s not, but who’s to argue? » 6654 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-HOT-DOGS.