Ten Great Hot Dogs In Orange County

The dirty water hot dog: New York's second-best contribution to street food after halal chicken and rice.
The dirty water hot dog: New York's second-best contribution to street food after halal chicken and rice.

In New York and its suburbs, where I grew up, there is only one way to eat a hot dog: in a potato roll with brown mustard, sauerkraut, and the option of onions in a sweet red sauce akin to ketchup.

Sure, there were heretics who added ketchup, relish, and raw chopped onions, and the occasional splash of disgusting, muddy chili, but they were few and far between. In New Jersey, we had Italian (or Newark-style) hot dogs dressed up like sausages at the Festa di San Gennaro. It was a real shock, though, to discover that in Chicago, they put a perfectly good (okay, not that good) pickle on their hot dog. And hot peppers and celery salt! I was pretty sure that was banned in the Bible or at least the Constitution.

Well, now I live in Southern California, where it's a hot dog if it contains a tube steak of some description; it could be wrapped up in a tortilla or stuffed into a bolillo. It could have bacon, or pastrami, or much-improved-from-my-childhood chili atop it. It could have mayonnaise--mayonnaise!--on it. My appreciation of all things hot dog has grown along with my waistline, and so here are ten of the top hot dogs in Orange County right now.

Don't agree? Did we miss yours? Are you some kind of hot dog heretic? Well, that's what the comments section is for.

10. PCH Hot Dogs

Ten Great Hot Dogs In Orange County
Dave Lieberman

Why does Orange have so many good hot dogs? While the plain dogs are good--great snap to the casing, bun that doesn't go mushy--the reason to line up at this cash-only stand is for the chili cheese dogs. Eat the tasty little gut bomb on the curb and bring extra napkins.

3438 E. Chapman, Orange; 714-744-1415; no website.

9. Portillo's


A chain restaurant in a top-ten list? Well, yes, but Portillo's is a Chicago legend, and they've got an In-N-Out-like mania about making sure the two California locations (one in the IE, one here) are up to snuff. Get the Chicago dog as Chicagoans do: mustard, onions, tomato, pickle spear, celery salt, and--if you like the taste of spicy vinegar--sport peppers.

8390 La Palma, Buena Park; 714-220-6400; portillos.com.

8. Pee Wee's Famous Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

Ten Great Hot Dogs In Orange County


Don't order the Mexican hot dog at Pee Wee's--El Güero Canelo in Tucson it isn't, and there are better imitations elsewhere--but do order the Chupacabra, a double bacon-wrapped dog on a baguette (yes, it works) dressed like a Mexico City-style quesadilla, with crumbled cotija cheese, sour cream, avocado and salsa.

5942 E. Edinger #104, Huntington Beach; 714-846-3100; peeweesfamous.com.



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