My First Time Trying Wienerschnitzel

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A couple of months ago, I confessed in these very digital pages that I had never tried Wienerschnitzel, even though I've long been a fan of their advertising campaign featuring that always running anthropomorphic hot dog.That immediately triggered an email from Wienerschnitzel's PR department, offering to leave off some coupons for freebies. We don't roll like that, but I promised them I'd soon try their chain.

That finally happened today.


I ate at the one nearest Weekly world headquarters, near the corner of Bristol and Red Hill in Costa Mesa, and was immediately surprised by the variety of offerings: not just hot dogs but hamburgers, not just hot dogs but Chicago dogs, kraut dogs, even bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Maybe some of the fancier offerings were more-delicious than their bumpkin ancestors, but I wanted to taste the originals: the corn dog, and the chili cheese dog.

They were ready within seconds of my order--not a good sign. The corn dog looked stiff and dry; the chili cheese dog at least had the appearance of edibility. But then came the surprise: Wienerschnitzel's corn dog was better than passable; it was good. Not dry but firm and crispy; sweet and not too greasy, encasing a fine-enough wiener. My cup of mustard was all I needed to decorate the corn dog--oh, I wanted jalapeños, but what a rip-off to have to pay an extra 30 cents for it!

The chili cheese dog, on the other hand, was disgusting. The chili--descended from the same sauce Glenn Bell used for his chili dogs back in San Bernardino, when he was taking notes on the Mexican restaurant next-door to Bell's Burgers (more on this, of course, next April in my book on the history of Mexican cuisine in this country)--was bitter, not sweet at all, simply disgusting. Even worse was the cheese--now, don't paint me as some fromage snob. Good cheese is good cheese, whether it's quesillo or processed, but their limp slice of cheese melted into plastic-esque piddle. The only good thing I can say about that choice is that the bun remained firm. But you can always get a better chili dog at a Little League game.

But that corn dog, man: I'd eat it again. I probably won't become a regular patron of Wienerschnitzel, and just might try the regular hot dogs to give it another try. But anyone who likes those chili cheese dogs is a weirdo; anyone who likes the corn dogs, true Nephilims of noshing.

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