Squaring Off Against My Childhood Hot Dog Preferences At Chicago Harv's

Categories: Local Eats
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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.

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.

Location Info

Chicago Harv's

410 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, CA

Category: Restaurant


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7 comments
Otto, Jr.
Otto, Jr.

Yank's Franks in Wells, Maine, hard by Kennebunkport? Any truth to the rumor that, given Obama's gas prices (caused largely by his War) and his auto companies and other recessionaires, Wells will not be Touristville this summer? With lahb-stah out of financial reach, local residents will surely value the hot dog, irregardless, as my Uncle Ottie used to say, of quality.

George Yankowski
George Yankowski

You had me until, "...the proper hot dog is a kosher, all-beef, "no-ifs-ands-or-butts" frank in a soft roll..." Try a Hummel Dog grilled in butter on a NE style bun, buttered and toasted.

I love (just about) all hot dogs, but grilled Hummels on a toasted bun is Hot Dog Heaven.

Yank's Franks

George Yankowski
George Yankowski

You had me until, "...the proper hot dog is a kosher, all-beef, "no-ifs-ands-or-butts" frank in a soft roll..." Try a Hummel Dog grilled in butter on a NE style bun, buttered and toasted.

I love (just about) all hot dogs, but grilled Hummels on a toasted bun is Hot Dog Heaven.

Rahm A. Lamadingdong
Rahm A. Lamadingdong

"I'd sooner go to Chicago Harv's than Portillo's, honestly."

Any reason why? Here's what mine would be: Portillo's is the least of all the well-known Italian beef/hot dog places in Chicago. I go to the two locations out here out of a blubbering nostalgia for my home town, I guess, and because, as inadequate as their beef is, it's superior to any other I've found outside the Chicago area. But you'd have to pay me at least $1,000 to waste a meal in Chicago on one of their dogs or beefs. Stop at a Portillo's when I could be having an Italian beef at Al's (for example) or a hot dog at Fluky's (for example)? Not on your life.

That noted, Chicago Harv's is only marginally better in the hot-dog department. (The employees I've encountered there don't know Chicago food and probably say Chicago, Illinoiz.) I agree that those stands outside certain Lowe's stores can be surprisingly good, given the venues, but I still prefer (the somewhat soulless) Romano's in Riverside, Mustard's in Los Alamitos, and, especially, the great and grungy non-Chicago chili dog at Cupid's, next door to superb fries at Daglas Drive-In (in Canoga Park on Vanowen at Winnetka). I'm not a fan of Fab's, Pink's, Carney's, Pacific Coast Hot Dogs, Chicago's Best (ugh), and most other Southern Cal tube steakerias, although I'm always open to recommendations.

Hot Dog Girl
Hot Dog Girl

Otto, take your Uncle Ottie to Yank's Franks in Wells, Maine.  One taste of the buttery goodness of the grilled roll, the delicious grilled dog and the out-of-this-world topping selection will take your mind off the gas prices...and the war!  You might want to plan on staying a couple of days so you can try all of them.  I'm addicted.  Bon appetite!

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

If you don't tell us where to get such a thing (or if it's only available in New England), you are a hot dog tease.

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