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Fab Hot Dogs: A Little Piece of Jersey in the Valley

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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...

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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!)

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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.

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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
Reseda
818-344-4336
www.fabhotdog.com

(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.