I am from New Jersey. Central New Jersey, to be more exact. I grew up in a place where there was exactly one way to eat hot dogs: with brown mustard and sauerkraut. Sure, if you went a little bit north there'd be those onions in red sauce, which are pretty good, but the proper hot dog is a kosher, all-beef, "no-ifs-ands-or-butts" frank in a soft roll with brown mustard and sauerkraut. Rippers (deep-fried until they perforate), dirty-water street dogs, the ever-rotating cast of God-only-knows-what at the convenience store, all dressed the same way.
The first time I had a Chicago-style hot dog, I thought it was the most disgusting concoction on the planet. Poppy seed roll? Yellow mustard? Neon green relish AND a pickle spear? (Okay, that one gets to slide--I love pickles.) Celery salt? Who puts celery salt on a hot dog?
Unfortunately for my biases and prejudices, they taste awesome. They're a category unto themselves, but they're a category I occasionally crave.
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I didn't expect much from Chicago Harv's. I mean, I know we'd written about it here before, but it was near Fullerton College (no offense to college students, but I mean, I willingly ate Oki Dogs at that age) and it had generated no buzz whatsoever, surprising in this county full of itinerant food writers. It seems to have changed owners a lot, which is not usually a good sign.
It was a good hot dog. The toppings didn't overwhelm the taste of the dog (though I left off the sport peppers--the vinegary spiciness just ruins the whole thing for me), the bun wasn't soggy, and the dog had the correct Vienna Beef snap. My only complaint is that the mustard went on last, which meant it was at risk for collapsing off the sandwich in a hail of onion bits.
I'd sooner go to Chicago Harv's than Portillo's, honestly. It was almost as good as the Chicago hot dogs from outside the Lowe's on Lemon Street in Anaheim (who, sadly, has been missing from his post the last couple times I've needed home repairs and tube steaks).
Chicago Harv's, 410 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton; 714-871-0491.