Earlier this year, we were driving in Reseda and spied saw a rather large crowd hanging out on a sidewalk. It seemed like a jovial group, relaxed, talking amongst themselves. The first thing that came to mind was, “Are they opening art galleries on Tampa now?” Then we saw the sign on the building. Ah, Fab's.
Towards the end of May, Fab Hot Dogs moved from its 600 square-foot storefront to a more ample location closer to the freeway. Stepping inside, nothing much appeared to have changed aside from the increased probability of grabbing a seat. The menu board has the same look, you can still find owners Joe Fabrocini and Susie Speck Mayor working behind the counter, there is even still a pizza place right next door. Fabrocini told us the move was mainly to create an environment that was “better for everyone.” There is more parking, tables indoors and out, and with the increased elbow room for the kitchen staff, former secret menu items like the Breakfast Dog with fried egg have their place on the regular menu. For our first visit to the new location we decided stick with the items that would draw us back to the previous location in the first place: the Bald Eagle dog, the tater tots and chili cheeseburger.
Since Fab Hot Dogs opened its doors two years ago, rippers have been making their way onto the menus of other hot dog joints and even inspired a food truck whose name makes us blush. However, Fab's Bald Eagle ripper continues to stand alone, if only because of its relish. Emulating the relish of New Jersey's famed Rutt's Hut, in L.A. it is more akin to something that might come out of out of Roy Choi's test kitchen. It is mustardy, spicy, perhaps slightly fermented.
Due to bad school cafeterias flashbacks, tater tots often don't often get the appreciation they deserve. Fab's has the deft hand at the fryer: fried to the far edge of crispness, these tots crunch through the entire chew. They are sturdy enough to withstand a douse of Fab's chili, though we prefer them unadorned, as they make a good buffer between bites of that potent Bald Eagle relish. And although hot dogs are their specialty, we were glad not to overlook Fab's Chili Cheeseburger. Just like some of the hot dogs on his menu, this burger channels a Southern California classic, the Tommy's burger.
With this new location, Fab Hot Dogs proves that there is nothing to fear from a little change, especially when the fundamentals stay strong. In fact, during busy times, you can still find a line at the register that that peeks out the door.
Fab Hot Dogs: 19417 Victory Boulevard, Reseda; (818) 344-4336.