Rutt’s Hut – The Hot Dog That is My Exception

I have always preferred hamburgers to hot dogs.

That’s just the kind of gal I am.

However, there is an exception to every rule.

And my exception…the one place where I would rather have a hot dog than a hamburger anywhere else on earth…

20141122_122307 is Rutt’s Hut. This hot dog stand and restaurant in Clifton, New Jersey is a schlep from wherever you are. It’s off the highway and though it’s hard to miss, thanks to its tall, iconic signage, it doesn’t seem like a destination-worthy eatery.

It, like, totally is.
20141122_122420 One part of the restaurant is a counter where you walk in, give your order, stand and eat, then leave. I actually love eating here because it feels so grimy and authentic – I have, on more than one occasion, seen an older man wearing a diamond pinky ring, come in with his young chauffeur and eat 2 rippers (hot dogs, fried until they burst) without getting so much as a mustard stain on his Armani suit, then walking out to conduct his business for the day.  20141122_123019 Of course, I also love sitting in what can only be described as an Elks lodge, totally preserved from the time that it was built in 1928. Carved wooden panelling, flourescent lighting, kids having parties in the back room and grandparents out for their Sunday lunches in the main room.  20141122_125538 Hot dog platter

Now these are the rippers. You can order them cremated, when they are fried until their skin is blackened and the meat is shriveled, but I like them standard. They are…so, so good. I don’t know if they are beef or pork. I don’t know if they are uncased or have vegetarian casing. I don’t know who supplies them or how many spices are in them. All I know is that they are  delicious. Crispy on the outside and so soft and juicy on the inside. Meaty and a little sweet and a little spicy and a little savory.

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Slather it with spicy mustard and their signature relish and enter heaven. The relish is tart, tangy, and must have some turmeric in there somewhere – it’s so yellow! The bun isn’t toasted (my least fave part of the hot dog – give me a warm and toasted bun any day of the week), but it’s still a class act wiener.

To say nothing of the absolutely ethereal creamy potato salad served on the platter. Doused, of course, with more of that piquant relish.

20141122_125546 Fries and Onion Rings

Get the fries with cheese, but skip the salty gravy. Get the onion rings because they are perfect. Shatteringly thin, crispy breading on sweet, caramelized onion strands. I prefer them with ketchup but more of that cheese wouldn’t be awry either.

Rutt’s Hut is the real deal. It’s just a cheapo, grimy hot dog joint with questionable service and a middle of nowhere location, but it’s heaven to hot dog lovers. Get yourself a ripper and an order of onion rings and spend your afternoon in culinary bliss.

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Yes, Rutt’s Hut. Yes, you are.