The snap of a Pink’s hot dog, celebrated by the likes of Jonathan Gold and Calvin Trillin, has never done much for me. In fact, I had one many moons ago when I was visiting L.A. and that was enough for me, thank you very much. I’m a New York street dog devotee: a warm, soft dog straight from the steam bath might be gross to some, but for me it’s heaven. The less it snaps when you bite in the better. I was ready to write L.A. off in the hot dog department until I ran into my friends Doug and Bryan of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck here outside Lindy & Grundy. They told me their truck would be parked on Sunday in front of a gay bar, Faultline, and next to it would be a woman who makes the best hot dogs they had ever had in their lives. I should swing by and say hello.
I did one better than that: I invited a group of L.A. gay friends to come along with me.
The line for the Big Gay Ice Cream truck was unbelievably long, a fact that made me happy: I’m glad L.A. is catching on to something New Yorkers have celebrated for a while. Before getting in the ice cream line, we got on the hot dog line. Here’s our friend Jason, our friend Gabe, and then a group (including Craig) studying their hot dog options.
Here’s the woman making the dogs, an absolute maestro at her craft.
Seriously, this woman had me in total awe: she carved up a green pepper using just a steak knife and a fearless swiping motion that would cause most of us to lose our fingers. She moved at such a quick speed, she had your order ready before you even said it. Here’s her work station.
A few things to notice: most of the hot dogs are BACON-WRAPPED. There’s whole garlic there on the flat top that perfumes all the other ingredients. The vegetables are in various stages of being cooked; she moves them all around with her tongs like naughty school children.
When I went up there, I ordered a bacon-wrapped hot dog with everything on it (you can see it in the lead picture). Actually, that’s someone else’s hot dog; mine, I got with everything on it except mayo and ketchup because I’m just a mustard kind of guy.
This really was one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had, best compared to a Chicago-style hot dog than anything you might have in New York. In both Chicago and here, ingredients are piled on with abandon. Here, those vegetables are deeply caramelized, there’s also charred cilantro, and, if you want, a jalapeño. It’s pretty much a whole dinner crammed on to a hot dog. After one of these, all I needed was ice cream; so let’s get in line.
My L.A. friends wanted to know the story of the Big Gay Ice Cream truck and I told them what I knew: Doug was an bassoon player, his friend leant him an ice cream truck for the weekend, he made it into the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and the rest was history. Also, he and Bryan once came to my apartment and let me interview them before they were famous.
Once at the window, Doug and I said hello; here he is giving my friend Japhy the famous Salty Pimp.
I can’t think of anything better to have after the Ultimate L.A. Street Dog than a Salty Pimp: a soft serve vanilla cone with Dulce de Leche that’s dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with salt. Yum.
Here’s Bryan with some more of the friends I brought eating their Salty Pimps.
It turned out to be a fantastic L.A. night. So thanks, Doug and Bryan, for telling me about the best L.A. street dog and for making such fabulous ice cream. You need to make your residency in L.A. permanent.