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6 Great Old-School L.A. Hot Dog Stands

Art's Chili Dogs
Art's Chili Dogs
Jim Thurman

Last year, we took a look back at a 1972 Los Angeles Times article by the late celebrated food writer David Shaw on hot dogs, focusing on the places that are no longer around. Forty-one years on, six survive. For all the stereotypes, we continue to discover there is more and more of Los Angeles that dates back far further than anyone is allowed to believe. Here are those six old-school L.A. hot dog stands, listed alphabetically and by Shaw's 1972 ratings, which appear as asterisks.

Pink's chili dog
Pink's chili dog
Jim Thurman

6. Pink's (***)

Arguably the most recognizable food landmark in Los Angeles, Pink's won our 2012 readers poll for "Best hot dog." Paul Pink began selling hot dogs from a push-cart near the intersection of La Brea and Montrose in 1939, then built the familiar stand in 1946. They serve the same all-beef Hoffy hot dog with natural casing, made special for Pink's since 1939, and topped by chili from Betty Pink's recipe. The only changes are the addition of a few celebrity named hot dogs -- and their photos lining the walls. Obviously, the photo of Dr. Phil hasn't been up long. The larger question: Whose photo once occupied the space now taken by Oprah's favorite doctor? 709 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; 323-931-4223.

Chili Dog, Tommy's
Chili Dog, Tommy's
Jim Thurman

5. (Original) Tommy's (***)

The small red-roofed shack Tommy Koulax opened at Beverly and Rampart in 1946 has become part of local lore. Mention Tommy's and it's their burgers that immediately come to mind. Understandable, but unfortunate, as Tommy's serves a hot dog good enough to make our list of the 10 Best Hot Dogs in Los Angeles: an all-beef hot dog with a sheep-skin casing, specially made for them by Papa Cantellas, topped with all-beef chili, onions, pickles and a tomato slice. Random trivia: Lawsuits in the 1970s and '80s against a spate of similarly named imitators led to a name change, from Tommy's to Original Tommy's. 2575 W. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; 213-389-9060.

See also: 10 Best Hot Dogs in Los Angeles

 

Mort's Deli, Tarzana
Mort's Deli, Tarzana
Jim Thurman

4. Mort's Deli (****)

45 years ago, Mort Medway opened his delicatessen near the busy Tarzana intersection of Reseda and Ventura Boulevards. More of a restaurant than the other places -- the place has actual booths -- Mort's serves their hot dogs deli-style (on a roll), with your choice of sides. Prepped by boiling then grilling, the hot dogs are kosher all-beef in a natural casing from two suppliers, Evergood and Aries. Mort's also sells them by the pound from their deli case. It's joked that the waitresses go back to the Nixon Administration. Mort retired last Fall, selling the business to a waitress who'd worked there for 27 years. 18452 Clark St., Tarzana; 818-345-3700.

Chicago Dog, Flooky's, Woodland Hills
Chicago Dog, Flooky's, Woodland Hills
Jim Thurman

3. Flooky's (****)

The original Sherman Oaks location on Ventura at Cedros, opened by Chicago transplant Stan Hoffenberg in 1965, is gone -- its onion dome, yellow and black striped motif, arcade and batting cages relegated to the memories of Valley baby boomers. Following a franchising boom and bust, two unaffiliated restaurants (in Canoga Park and Woodland Hills) remain. Both still feature Chicago Dogs using the same Vienna all-beef Polish sausage that Hoffenberg served. Random trivia: Joan Jett, then a member of The Runaways, did a photo shoot at the original location, posing with an aluminum bat after taking some batting practice. Flooky's, 21034 Victory Blvd., Woodland Hills; 818-340-7797. New Flooky's Restaurant, 7921 Canoga Ave., Canoga Park; 818-887-3721.

See also: 5 Great Old School Burger Stands in Los Angeles

 

Cupid Dog, Cupid's Hot Dogs, Winnetka
Cupid Dog, Cupid's Hot Dogs, Winnetka
Jim Thurman

2. Cupid's (***)

In 1946, Richard F. Walsh and his wife Bernice started Walsh's Hot Dogs. A name change to Cupid's Hot Dogs soon followed -- and little has changed since. A San Fernando Valley institution, Cupid's also made our 10 Best Hot Dogs in Los Angeles. Their hot dog supplier is a trade secret, though we know that the dogs are beef and pork with a natural casing. While there are a few franchisees, seek out the family-run stands in Winnetka and Northridge, where the menu consists of just three basic hot dogs, sodas and chips. 20030 Vanowen St., Winnetka; 818-347-1344; 9039 Lindley Ave., Northridge; 818-898-4950.

Art's Chili Dogs
Art's Chili Dogs
Jim Thurman

1. Art's Chili Dogs (*****)

The intersection of Florence and Normandie will always be associated with the 1992 riots, but for long-time Angelenos, it's also where Art's is. Ex-New Yorker Art Elkind opened the small stand on Florence Avenue in 1944. A charming character well-known for expressing his opinions, Art's dogs drew praise from both Shaw and Ruth Reichl. After Art's passing in 1990, the Elkind family ran the business for a time before selling to a new owner. The chili dog is the same, served on a steamed bun, a casing-free, all-meat dog made specially for Art's by nearby Meadow Farms. Some will complain about the lack of snap, but this was by design, to allow all the flavors and ingredients to meld. We'd love to have heard Art's response to any gripes. 1410 W. Florence Ave., Los Angeles; 323-750-1313.


Follow Jim Thurman on Twitter @JThur01. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.


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