CLOSED: L.A.'s Iconic Dish: Pink's Chili Dogs Vs. Cart-Grilled Danger Dogs

Los Angeles is full of people who care passionately about food, and there are plenty of restaurants happy to serve us. We don't all agree on what constitutes "good," but we do know we like our burgers, our froyo, our Korean BBQ, our pizza. (That's right, our pizza. We like it.)

The thing is, we don't have one iconic dish. Nothing that we can point to and say, "This. This is Los Angeles on a plate." So now we're going to find out. KCET Food came up with 16 contenders. You vote on your favorites. Here's the second match up:

VOTING CLOSED.

Photos by Jakob LaymanChili Dog at Pink's: The infamous hot dog stand that people across the globe view as a pilgrimage destination.

The History: The stand was first a cart, at Melrose and La Brea. This was 1939, when the area was still pretty quiet. Chili dogs could be had for 10 cents. The Pink family is pretty wealthy now, so some sort of alchemy was obviously at play.

The Scene: The line wrapping around Pink's is so ubiquitous that it's a bigger shock when you drive by and don't see anyone camped out there. That line is comprised mostly of tourists, probably hoping to come home with a "and then Brad Pitt got out of the limo!" story to take home.

The Food: In today's food culture, a fancy hot dog stand couldn't open and thrive without making their own dogs. Pink's gets away with just special-ordering theirs, which probably didn't even raise an eyebrow back in the day. But a food can be iconic without being objectively excellent, you know?

Danger Dogs from Various Carts: If you've partied east of La Brea, you've eaten one.

The History: Street meat is a huge part of Los Angeles culture. While other North American cities became regulated enough over the last century that food carts largely went away, here they still thrive. (They do get occasionally shut down by over-zealous cops, but that's always met with public outcry.) Bacon-wrapped dogs, also known as danger dogs or Dodger dogs, are everything Los Angeles.

The Scene: The carts set up outside sporting events and clubs, so the crowd is exactly as you'd expect.

The Food: It's a hot dog of dubious origin, wrapped in bacon, topped with all manner of sauce, veggie, and spice. Of course it's delicious. Of course you wouldn't eat one in the light of day, my delicate egret.

Pink's
Carts

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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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