Fab Hot Dogs: A Little Piece of Jersey in the Valley
Just as I reached Fab Hot Dogs in Reseda, forty-five painful minutes on the 101 from Los Feliz, my iPod kicked up Bruce Springsteen, the unofficial state poet of New Jersey. It was a good omen, given all the noise about hot dog excellence on LAist lately.
The ripper, Fab’s deep-fried dog, is a Garden State original, featured since at least the 1930s at Rutt’s Hutt in Clifton, New Jersey, at the gritty junction of Routes 3 and 21. Joe Fabrocini drops the very same dogs Rutt’s uses into boiling oil, and the resulting dog is super-crispy outside yet juicy within. A Bald Eagle is a ripper with Joe’s own mustard relish, garlicky with an elusive note of celery seed, and less acidic than Rutt’s.
Does the dog measure up? And tater tots! after the jump...
The deep-fried carb options to accompany the ripper include fries, Frito pie, and a big surprise: tater tots! These are not haute tots, but go great with the frank and could be a meal in themselves. (After all, as Margaret Cho says, weekends are for carbs!)
Fabrocini, a New Jersey native from West New York (yes, it’s in Jersey, and the first syllable gets the emphasis) offers a full menu of grilled or steamed dogs with lots and lots of optional toppings, as well as Polish sausage, a turkey dog, a veggie dog, and burgers. He even has Yoo Hoo!
How did Fab’s ripper measure up to Rutt’s? Tastewise, it was totally on target. Reseda isn’t exactly Clifton, but as I finished up my tater tots (one order = lotta tots) an older, Jersey-worthy guy who announced that he drove all the way from Sherman Oaks – although he coulda been from Passaic or North Arlington – came in and started kvetching about the friend he was supposed to meet here, the guy is always on time, but he was late, what a pain, and hey, what kinda dogs you got here? He would be right at home at Rutt’s.
Fab’s has three two-tops and three stools at a counter, but whaddya whining about? At Rutt’s you’d be standing at chest-high counters staring at the Passaic River. If you’re not in the Valley already, Fab’s is a trek, but it’s worth the trip.
Fab’s Hot Dogs
6747 Tampa Avenue
(And if you’re traveling east: Rutt’s Hutt, 417 River Road, Clifton, N.J. 973-779-8615. No, there’s no website – whatta you, a wiseguy?)
Photos from Beth Kopley's flickr page.