Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Greasy Spoons - The Hot Grill

World's Tastiest Texas Weiners?

After our trip to the Ramstein Brewery, I took Firecracker for a chili dog, or "Texas Weiner" as we call them up here in Jersey. Yes, most places misspell wiener. They probably would give us the chair for calling what we put on our hot dogs "chili" in Texas, and I have no idea why they have that name here. It's the same reason we say "Taylor Ham" instead of Pork Roll. For the record, the full name is John Taylor's Pork Roll, and it is the finest of all processed meat substitutes.

I've always loved roadside stands that sell burgers and hotdogs and who knows what, so here begins a series of future and past adventures as we travel to Greasy Spoons and roadside grease pits that sling tasty and unhealthy fare. For example, the Ghetto Burger at Ann's Snack Bar in Atlanta was a transcendental experience and must be shared. But that will be another time. For now, the Hot Grill in Clifton NJ will be our subject.

The 80s-throwback Mustang at the Hot Grill.

Nestled on Lexington Avenue between Route 21 and I-80, this local standard has been serving up chili dogs and char-grilled burgers since 1961. Like the better-known Rutt's Hut this is another Clifton hot dog haven that serves up dogs cooked in the deep fryer. They have a long counter and a familiar menu with $2 chili dogs and burgers for $2.09, the extra nine cents goes directly to purchasing the highest quality meat possible, we're sure.

Their signature chili sauce is sweet and smoky, very light on the spices as befitting the Northeast. Still very tasty, and it goes perfectly with the fryer-crisped hot dog skins. Their gravy fries, something between steak fry and shoestring and smothered with brown gravy and white American cheese, were quite good and just the right portion, not the mountain you get at many places. This keeps the prices low. We had chili-cheese dogs all the way, the perfect combination if you ask me. They don't use spray cheese like most places, they actually put a slice of cheese in the bun before onions, brown spicy mustard, dog, and chili. They were works of perfection and petite compared to the Lucky Dogs of Bourbon Street, much tastier if you ask me.

All the elements of my favorite meal.

One criticism, they don't have a good chocolate drink like Rutt's does, the famous Marvis. They sell you a tiny box of chocolate milk like you're a school kid at lunch. This is nearly criminal, because certain things go better with a chili dog, like the magical fruit drinks at Gray's Papaya. Chocolate drinks are one of these things, like the famous, long-gone Chocolate MooCow drink local to North Jersey that was always better than Yoo-Hoo.

They also do some of the lingo Rutt's is famous for, "frenchy one!" and the like. But no Marvis. That being said, the Hot Grill is worthy of a visit for hot dog hounds, especially if you like chili dogs. They're open until 1am most days, 2am Friday and Saturday for post-booze satisfaction.

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