By Michael P Coleman
Pink’s Hot Dogs has been at the corner of La Brea and Melrose in Los Angeles for 76 years, having opened with a $50 loan and started as a hot dog cart in the middle of the field there! Now in a modest building on the same site, it has become known as “a Hollywood legend since 1939.”
That slogan is displayed all over the building, the menu, and their website — and that’s a lot of hype. That’s also a lot of years; The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind and my mother debuted in 1939! I had to see if Pink’s hot dogs were THAT good.
The line to order was three deep and began to bleed into the adjacent parking lot, and this was on a Wednesday at 3pm, way past the traditional lunch rush and a bit early for the dinner crowd. The sight of the huddled, hungry masses outside suggested that Pink’s was serving up a must-try dog.
I sampled the Giant 12″ Jalapeño Dog, which comes complete with mustard, chili, and onions. You can add bacon if you like, but there is truly no need. It may have been the best hot dog I’ve ever had, and that’s saying a lot as I was practically raised on Detroit Coney Islands. Its casing sharply snapped as I bit into it, ejecting spicy juices that were just hot enough to keep me craving more. And it was huge, invitingly jutting far beyond the bun on both ends.
For good measure, and in the spirit of true investigative journalism, I also sampled the Turkey Dog, which comes standard with mustard and relish. With a few added onions I had a succulent scandal on my hands.
I also got a side of seasoned fries, which were serviceable…yeah, that’s a good way to put it. They were fine, but let me just say this: my late lunch at Pink’s may have been the first time in my life that I largely ignored the french fries. In fact, I tossed most of them when I left. One bite of that Jalapeño Dog and I was in love, and I’m not a cheating man so I gave that puppy ALL of my attention!
The experience itself was great, with a small, cozy dining room that’s festooned with autographed photos of many of the Hollywood legends who have helped make Pink’s a landmark, including Jamie Foxx, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, and Stevie Wonder. There’s also ample parking and a surprisingly spacious patio out back.
But just like with the fries, I couldn’t have cared less about my surroundings after one bite. I’d have finished those hot dogs in a cardboard box under a viaduct next to the railroad tracks…well, you get the picture.
Pink’s menu was so expansive I’ll have to find a way back there while I’m in LA. The Lord of the Rings Dog (9 massive inches of meat with BBQ sauce and onion rings) is calling my name. Do you hear it?
Pink’s Hot Dogs is located at 709 N. La Brea in Los Angeles, and is open Sunday-Thursday 9:30am – 2:00am and Friday-Saturday 9:30am-3:00am. Visit them at www.pinkshollywood.com, on Facebook or Twittter (@pinkshotdogs).