There is a multitude of restaurants across the country that boast gourmet hamburgers. Every little town on the map has a diner or two that locals recommend as the best place to get a burger, and everywhere in between, there are chain restaurants touting a wide selection of specialties, with everything from sautéed foie gras to Portobello mushrooms to shaved truffles as toppings. Surely the hamburger has come a long, long way.
However, the same can’t be said for the hot dog. By and large, hot dogs are the underdog, most often relegated to vendors on street corners and frequently referred to as the slang term ‘street meat’.
But there’s one restaurant that actually caters to the hot dog and turns it into a word of art, and that restaurant is PINK’S.
Founded in 1939 by Paul and Betty Pink who answered the need for affordable food during the Great Depression; the hot dogs grew in popularity in and around LA thanks to the Pink’s pushcart located on the corner of Melrose Ave and La Brea. The reputation of the product was due in part to Betty’s chili recipe which gave the dogs extra flavor and made them messy fun to eat.
Seven years later, in 1946, the now infamous La Brea walk-up location was built, a stone’s throw from where the original Pink’s pushcart was located. And in due course ideas were developed to name specialty dogs after select celebrities. For example, the “Ozzy Spicy Dog”, featuring a Polish sausage, American and nacho cheese, guacamole, tomatoes, and onions, was named for Ozzy Osbourne. The “Martha Stewart Dog” comes complete with relish and mustard, tomatoes and onions, bacon and sour cream, and sauerkraut. There are now 30 different dogs named for celebrities as well as chefs.
With this kind of attention being paid to the LA location; eventually, the time came to expand. In addition to establishing permanent locations at places like Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and in Harrah’s Hotel and Casino in San Diego, Pink’s discovered that seasonal locations such as fairs also worked well, as did amusement parks.
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is one of those amusement parks. And, to be honest, it just might be the best place to eat in the entire park.
Just as the La Brea location still boasts a long line-up, so does Pink’s at Cedar Point. And there’s a reason for that – the signature 9″ – 12″ stretch hot dogs are absolutely DELICIOUS, served fast and with a smile and anyway you want ‘em, with plenty of choices for toppings, including Betty’s famous chili. The fries and onion rings are every bit as enjoyable. The meals are simple but well worth the money, and you certainly won’t leave hungry.
But don’t go expecting a ‘dining’ experience. The fact is, you have to line up to place your order. The order line is loud and moves quickly, so there’s no time for small talk. And the 50’s style restaurant is very small, with very few tables in it’s pink and white interior. So chances are that if you go at prime time lunch or dinner hours, you’ll be taking your dog to go. There are a few picnic tables outside the door for such occasion. However, if you are one of the lucky ones that manage to snag a table inside, be sure to check out the walls which are lined with celebrity photos and autographs. You’ll likely be so pre-occupied reading them all that you won’t notice the chili running down your chin. But try to catch it if you can because you won’t want to miss a drop.