This anthropomorphic hot dog is wearing chaps and asking for “one all the way.” Just be glad I didn’t take pictures of the BDSM-themed cups.
- Total number of hot dogs consumed: 8
- Total cups of birch and/or root beer consumed: 3
- Total number of weiner-related “jokes” made by Brian and his brother: 10 hundred thousand million
- Total number of times they made me want to stab myself in the ear with a plastic butter knife: 10 hundred thousand million and one
- Knowing that I brought it all upon myself: Priceless
Brother-in-law Randy, the third member of an august judging panel that also included (1) me and (2) Brian, getting massively fucked up on weiners. We thought he would be the perfect candidate, what with his duodenal ulcer and fear of eating out.
Texas Weiners: the pride of North Jersey, at least those denizens of North Jersey that are (1) construction workers, (2) truck drivers, (3) hungover or (4) any combination of 1, 2 and 3. Invented, inexplicably, in Paterson, NJ, a Texas Weiner* is a deep-fried hot dog (generally beef) with spicy brown mustard, raw onion, and a chili-esque, tomato-based beef sauce with hints of cinnamon and allspice.
Texas Weiners are taken very seriously in North Jersey. There are many weiner joints, all with their own vociferous supporters. In the name of science, we set out to canvas the top spots to root out North Jersey’s Hottest Texas Weiner.** Our list of contenders, compiled after countless minutes of in-depth internet research:
- Goffle Grill
- Johnny & Hanges
- Libby’s Lunch
- The Hot Grill
- J&G Texas Weiner
- Texas Weiner I
Logbook in hand, we started at the northernmost joint and worked our way down. Unfortunately, even with our carefully planned moderate eating schedule, we only made it through the first four before succumbing to the meat sweats, hence “part the first,” with “part the second” coming when our kidneys have sufficiently recovered.
*In case you can’t get enough milage out of the word “weiner” alone, some places call them “Hot Texas Weiners.”
**Yes, yes, you have the hottest weiner, I know. You are SO VERY FUNNY.
Now open at 10am!
Our first stop was the Goffle Grill, which I’d never heard of but which several internet bulletin boards filled with people who are REALLY, REALLY INTO HOT DOGS told me was worth a stop. I was sad to see that the old drive-in section of the parking lot was no longer in use; the only thing better than a good Texas weiner is not having to drag your fat ass out of the car to get it.
Inside, we placed our standard order for the day: 1 plain hot dog (to judge the quality of the naked dog), 1 Texas Weiner all the way, a birch beer (traditional beverage accompaniment to the Texas Weiner) and an order of onion rings (because onion rings are good).
Behold, in the center of the naked dog: Friday’s Frig? Congrats to Tracy and her pretty close guess of “Cooked pork sausage, skin split”.
Sadly, the Goffle Grill did not get the day off to an auspicious start. Although the naked dog looked good, it tasted only okay, rating an exceedingly average average of 5/10, and scored dismally in the “casing” category because of its total lack of snap, where it trudged in with a pathetic 3.75/10. How do you make a deep-fried hot dog flaccid? It’s a mystery to me. The onion rings, while not scored, also got a thumbs down for being pre-made extruded rings and not actual whole onions.
The Texas Weiner perked all three of us up, however.* Spicier mustard would have been nice, but there was a good jolt of sharp, raw onion (the only place we visited, in my opinion, with enough raw onion diced large enough to be really punchy) and the meat sauce was nicely flavored with pepper and clove notes. In both texture and taste the meat sauce scored 7s and 8s. Sadly, none of us could get over the sad, sad sausage casing and the Goffle garnered an overall 6.125/10.
*RESIST THE TEMPTATION.
Johnny’s been bringing you all the way since 1939. I’M TALKING ABOUT HOT DOGS, YOU FILTHY PEOPLE.
Johnny & Hanges, only a five-minute drive from the Goffle Grill was another bulletin-board find. My immediate and lasting impression: it’s clean. Very clean. And shiny. And in my book? A Texas Weiner joint should NOT be clean and shiny; it should be a little grimy looking and your table should be a little sticky. Other oddities: You can get freshly-filled cannoli there, which can’t be right. And the men’s room has two sinks and one toilet, while the women’s room has two toilets and one sink. Clearly, something is afoot.
See how shiny the table is?
Johnny’s plain dog beat out the Goffle by a hair, sneaking ahead with a 5.7/10, and its casing and bite put the Goffle to shame with a full 6 out of 10. Bonus points were also earned for the Boylan’s, as well as for onion rings that, while still a little industrial in their heavy breading, were made of actual whole onion slices.
Unfortunately, we still couldn’t catch a break: Johnny’s meat sauce, the heart of a Texas Weiner, slunk in with a pathetic 4.3/10. The onions were so finely minced so as to be unidentifiable, and the mustard appeared to be of the “plain yellow” variety; unacceptable in this context. Overall, just shy of 6/10 (it would have averaged out to an even 6, but I gave it a 5 because it was JUST SO FREAKING CLEAN).
Obviously, not everyone feels like we did; just after we sat down to eat, the lunch rush materialized and there was a line out the door. To those people I say: Be ye not so provincial about your hot dogs! So what if you’ve been coming to Johnny’s since your great-great-grandpa Barney got that job down the saw mill and took his family out for the only celebration dinner he could afford? Yes, yes, very touching. But thanks to the magic of cars and New Jersey’s state of the art, omnipresent highways, a better dog is mere minutes away.
I’m a little in love with this sign, and I’m not sure why. I think it’s the jaunty little off-kilter “beef”.
After Johnny’s, we were excited that things would start to look up with the next two joints on the line-up, both widely known as Texas Weiner meccas.
The first, Libby’s Lunch, is actually located in Paterson, birthplace of the Texas Weiner. It’s a nondescript white box on the side of a nondescript road overlooking a nondescript body of water with some listless ducks. When we drove up, I exclaimed, “Now this is what I want: a little box where I go in and someone gives me a hot dog.” Which Brian thought sounded a lot like a description of prison, to which I say SO WHAT if they have delicious hot dogs.
I knew I was supposed to take a photo first, but I couldn’t stop myself from taking a bite of this weiner.*
Libby’s started the serious upswing that would carry us through the rest of the day. The dog was tasty. The dog had snap and bite – 7.33/10, unprecedented! The meat sauce earned consistent 8s across the board for taste and texture – it was the day’s favorite for 2 out of the 3 of us – and the all-the-way dog was nicely loaded with onions and spicy mustard.
Libby’s also garnered universal acclaim for its nondescriptness, the very je-ne-sais-quoi that Johnny’s so sadly lacked, and for its extremely half-assed attempt at “décor.” Dear owners: I particularly love the enormous concrete rabbit sculpture next to the potted plant on the counter. Magnifique. 8/10 overall.
*SHUT UP. You people DISGUST ME.
Our final stop of the day was the Hot Grill: a true Texas Weiner institution. Located in Clifton, NJ, it is in a constant state of warfare with other Clifton favorite Rutt’s Hut for Best Hot Dog Ever. Rutt’s wasn’t on our agenda since they don’t do a true Texas Weiner, so I recuse myself from that argument.
The Hot Grill got an immediate +10,000 for its staff: angry, angry old Italian men who can’t be bothered to look you in the eye as they mumble-shout your order to the angry, angry old Italian men manning the hot dog stations. It brought a tear to my eye.
The Hot Grill scored through the roof in every category there was, and in some categories that haven’t been invented yet. The dog itself was chewy and spicy and delicious and got 9s – 9s!! – for taste. The meat sauce got 8s and 9s as well, and was my favorite of the day, and the all-the-way dog was nicely loaded with spicy brown mustard and onion, all in balance. So besotted were we of the Hot Grill that we were totally willing to overlook the complete lack of onion rings (one area in which Rutt’s Hut, which has amazing homemade onion strings, has them beat hands down) and the fact that the only available root beer was Mug.
As noted, this was, unfortunately, where the meat sweats brought us down. But don’t worry, Manny’s, J&G and Texas Weiner I, we’re a’ comin’ for you.
Okay, fine, now you can make ONE weiner joke. ONE. So make it a good one.
Okay, okay, I’ll try to make it good–
It’s good that you stopped when you did. Nothing quite as unappealing as a sweaty weiner.
Did I win anything?! Lol.
Eight! I thought I loved the dogs, but you have me beat.
I wish you luck in not tasting these every day for the rest of the week. Every burp could be joyful, or a sad reminder.
You had me at “deep-fried hot dog.” How is it possible that I’ve lived in neighboring New York for 5 years and never heard of New Jersey’s famous weiners? How provincial of me.
Thanks for posting this review! We tried our first Texas weiners at Johnny & Hanges just last Friday. The cleanliness of the joint really was all wrong, but I think they use stadium lighting in the evening, which makes it that much worse. Will definitely try Libby’s and Hot Grill sometime once I recover from the experience.
What a great recap, I loved all of the pics of the food and joints. I love little dives like this!
rachel, 8 between the 3 of us. there’s no way to get through a whole day of hot dog tasting if you eat a whole dog every place you stop.
amy, i can’t recommend hot grill highly enough. let me know if you want to tag along for part deux (which will probably include rutt’s, just because) – you’re friends with claudia and you post lots of dog pictures, so you’re obviously good people. i just warn you, though, that i’m very serious about having everyone fill out the scoring forms properly.
Oh, I’m in (as long as I’m not otherwise committed to greyhound events). When are you planning Part the Deux?
Sometimes, I really hate living in Seattle. This is one of those times. There absolutely no weiner joints around here. I need to go to jersey and chow down on weiner after glistening weiner.
They just look so delicious. Even at 8:30 am.
I’m pretty sure Dodge’s mom went on a Texas weiner tour?
How did they get the name Texas weiners? I don’t think Texas is known for weiners or random fried stuff. Just curious.
amy, possibly the week after next. i’ll let you know.
graham, i’m disappointed in you. that was so obvious, you put no thought into it at all.
lisa, no one really knows. it’s part of the texas weiner mystique.
Aw you’re making me nostalgic for my home state! I hope you do more Jersey-centric food reviews.
Can you believe RI doesn’t have diners? Or waffle fries? Something is seriously wrong in New England.
Hilarious! And useful, should I ever leave Texas for New Jersey and want a taste of home weiners.
Why are they called Texas Weiners, exactly?
I’M A MATCHMAKA !!!
amy meet michelle
michelle meet amy
michelle, she’s on the quiet side but in a very good, cool, smart and funny kinda way. i love amy.
amy, michelle is scary smart and intuitive and ALL heart – no matter what she tells you. i love michelle.
AND YOU’VE BOTH MET MY MOM…
eat a dog for me… and let me make this clear. REAL onion rings – gotta ave ’em. (ethel would not settle for less)
oh and – your posts are the best posts
you are too fucking good
i know i say that a lot
but to be that good, that often?
i bow down to that complicated, mildly deranged, wonderful mind of yours…
I thought this was the most footnote worthy of all…
>“Now this is what I want: a little box where I go in and someone gives me a hot dog.”
I’ve thought up about 3 lewd lascivious re-phrasings. Consider you and your readership spared.
Man here in California we don’t even have Texas hotdogs!
Ahhh .. so close. Was it beef?
but vanessa, RI has coffee milk. i *love* coffee milk. way more than i like actual coffee. AND you have the best fried clams.
claudia, it’s true. my posts ARE the best posts.
seriously, sometimes your adulation frightens me. but i know you don’t live nearby, so that helps keep the stress level down. well, that and the klonopin.
traci, that it was.
What red blooded American girl doesn’t like a good wiener?
Thank you, thank you…I am an authentic Paterson girl raised on Hot Texas Weiners and I know for certain that Hot Grill is the best. Johnny and Hanges was good when it was on River Street back in the day, since they moved they are sterile, as you mention. Falls View–just okay. Libby’s–bland, just okay. Hot Grill–totally great, the best, nothing else comes close. BTW, whenever you go, tip the guy, say “subway” and he’ll remember you when you come back.
I am a Brooklyn boy raised on Nathans Dogs. When I moved to Jersey, I couldn’t get enough of the Texas Weiners. Clixies was my favorite (now closed – and yes I wept).
Goffle Grill is mediocre, Johnny and Hanges is terrible (yellow mustard???), Rutts is overrated. My favorites are the Hot Grill, Libby’s, and two places that are not mentioned often but should be; River View East on River Road in Elmwood Park (right off Rt 80), and Belmont Grill in North Haledon.
Just my humble opinion.
Ok. Are we ever going to get part 2? I realize that this is a sad sad commentary on my life, but sometimes I find myself wondering “Did Michelle ever finish her tour o’ the Texas Weiner?” I realize your cholesterol may still be recovering, and it is possible that your doctor made you promise to NOT finish the tour o’ the Texas weiner, but, you know, that was probably just a suggestion.
Coffee milk is probably tasty (I’ve led a sheltered and deprived life) but Moxie (a soda from Maine that is supposed to taste like coffee) is not so tasty. Even though it sounds like it might be. I’m just saying if that if your intention is to finish the tour in aught-eight, you’re starting to get close to the deadline….
I grew up on Clixies. I lived within a mile. I moved west in 1971 and haven’t found good hot dogs yet.
I would like to get Clixies recipe for they’re sause. Does anyone know where I could get it?
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