Wiener Take All
Canary is an Iranian sandwich shop on Westwood‘s Iranian strip, a house of kebabs in the most kebab-intensive neighborhood in California. (As W.C. Fields once said of the garlic-packing town of Gilroy, you could marinate a steak just by hanging it on a clothesline here.) Also notable are Iranian-style sandwiches made with a split-and-grilled Hebrew National frank, a hollowed-out length of toasted French bread and condiments similar to those you might expect to find on a Chicago-style hot dog, only inflected with more garlic. The sensation is a strange cross between Jewish excess, Middle Eastern flavors and Cuban-sandwich texture. All sandwiches -- also available with grilled lamb’s tongue, grilled chicken or grilled beef -- come with a fistful of freshly made potato chips. 1942 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; (310) 470-1312. Open daily 11 a.m.--11 p.m. Lunch for two, food only, $8--$14. No alcohol. Parking lot. MC, V.
It is a beautiful thing to see a Cupid’s dog assembled, to observe the counterman aligning buns four, five, six at a time in a special ridged tray, to witness the quick flick of his wrists as he lays in the hot dogs, smears each with yellow mustard, sprinkles them with chopped onions, then sluices them with a precise amount of chili, enough to flavor every bite -- to soak into the top few millimeters of the steamed bun without necessarily slopping onto your shoes or even on your hands -- before twisting the dogs like anniversary presents into layers of soft, white tissue. If you order the dogs with cheese, a soft flurry of grated orange substance is showered onto the hot dogs right over the onions, and dissolves almost immediately into the chili. 14300 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys; also at 20030 Vanowen Blvd., Canoga Park, and several other locations. Open daily. Lunch for two, food only, $5--$8. No alcohol. Takeout only. Cash only.
Hot Dog on a Stick
It‘s a hot dog. It’s on a stick. It‘s fried in a sweetish corn batter and served by pretty college girls who wear tall, multicolored caps that look like something that might have been worn by a Pan Am stewardess on The Jetsons. If you are an Angeleno of a certain age, a mere whiff of a Hot Dog on a Stick is enough to transport you back to the old P.O.P., where you probably ate your skewered weenie while waiting in line for the Bob-o-Sled or something with your mom and dad. Frankly, as regional hot-dog styles go, Hot Dog on a Stick may not rank with Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island or the Vienna dogs served outside Chicago‘s Wrigley Field, but the stands in those cities have no spectacle that even comes close to the sight of a short-skirted Hot Dog on a Stick employee pumping up a tankful of lemonade. At various food-court locations, including Santa Monica Place, Muscle Beach, Glendale Galleria and the Westside Pavilion.
Mike may be the most prominent restaurateur in Vernon, California, an industrial town that seems more like an enormous, truck-choked loading dock; and his sign, which depicts a giant hockey player, was ”borrowed“ for the doughnut shop in Wayne‘s World. But Mike sure is proudest of his Hockeyburger, which is essentially a cheeseburger garnished with a sliced, grilled all-beef hot dog. Some people theorize that the concoction is called a Hockeyburger because the burger symbolizes the puck and the hot dog the hockey stick; some say that the trisected hot dog resembles the grille on a Zamboni machine. Some people think that Mike is just a fool for hockey. But although the Hockeyburger may be fearsome to behold, it is actually almost as delicious as it is indigestible. ”Try a Hockeyburger,“ Mike’s sign reads. ”Made Out of Old Pucks.“ You can‘t say he didn’t warn you. 1717 S. Soto Ave., Vernon; (323) 264-0444. Open Mon.--Sat. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch for two, $6--$8. Beer. Takeout. Cash only.
The most famous creation here is the eponymous Dog, a couple of frankfurters wrapped in a tortilla with chili, pickles, mustard, a slice of fried pastrami and a torrent of goopy American cheese -- a cross-cultural burrito that‘s pretty hard to stomach unless you’ve got the tum of a 16-year-old, but strangely delicious nonetheless. The best of the Oki creations, however, is the pastrami burrito, a Chinese-American-Jewish-Mexican thing made by Japanese cooks for a mostly African-American clientele, a foil-wrapped grease bomb the size and weight of a building brick, bursting with fried pastrami, sauteed cabbage, onions and peppers, mustard and pickles, and a healthy dose of Oki chili, enough food to feed a medium-size family for a week. 5056 W. Pico Blvd.; (323) 938-4369. Open daily 9 a.m.--10 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $3.50--$7. Lot parking. Cash only.
Consider the Pink’s dog, uncouth and garlicky, tapered and uncommonly slender, skin thick and taut, so that when you sink your teeth into it, the sausage . . . pops . . . into a mouthful of juice. The bun is steamed, just so, soft enough to sort of become a single substance with the thick chili that is ladled over the dog, but firm enough to resist dissolving altogether, unless you order your hot dog with hot sauerkraut. (I do.) Crisp chunks of raw onion provide a little texture; a splash of vinegary yellow mustard supplies the hint of acidity that balances the richly flavored whole. Pink‘s also serves hamburgers, but it is the dog that is its glory, the dog that deserves a historic-preservation act of its own. 709 N. La Brea Ave.; (323) 931-4223 (no phone orders). Open Sun.--Thurs. 9:30 a.m.--2 a.m., Fri.--Sat. 9:30 a.m.--3 a.m. Lunch for two, food only, $4.50--$9. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only.
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