Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jerry's Dogs - Santa Ana

Sausages. Just about every culture in the world has a homegrown version of it. The Chinese have the lap cheung; the Filipinos have the longanisa. The Germans, a sausage loving society if ever there was one, has knockwurst and bratwurst, to name just a few. It seems that the urge to stuff the intestines of an animal with the ground-up meat from whatever is left of the carcass is as universal as the propensity to make love and reproduce.

We Americans, of course, have our beloved hot dog, which we eat everywhere -- at the movies, at baseball games, at the beach...even at the AMPM gas pump while we're topping-off the tanks on our giant SUVs. This is no surprise since Americans are trained to love the hot dog from a young age. Don't believe me? Surely you remember this catchy little ditty:

Oh I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener.
That is what I'd truly like to be.
'Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener,

(altogether now)

Ev'ryone would be in love with me.
Advertising jingles and Wienermobiles aside, no other food is ingrained into the American experience as the hot dog, since nothing else is so accessible, cheap, and unfussy. A ten-year old can prepare a hot dog for himself. A burger, on the other hand, wouldn't be so easy.

Yet, even as simple as it is, hot dogs can inspire a lot of regional pride in people (second only to barbecue). Case in point: ask a Chicagoan what they think of a New York hot dog, and prepare to put the "earmuffs" on junior. What's even more sacrilegious is to ask for ketchup on a Chicago Dog. Those in the "Windy City" are serious when it comes to their wieners.

But if you ask Steve Doggie Dog, a fellow food blogger, he'll tell you L.A. has some seriously good franks of its own. He's dedicated his blog to all things hot dog in Los Angeles. His conquests are quite impressive. He has a list so comprehensive that I wonder how many more places could be left in the City of Angels that he hasn't visited. I think that there's a time in the near future when Steve will finally have to drag his butt into a Burger King. But no matter how finite the supply of sausage joints in L.A. might be, Orange County has far fewer.

While I'm sure there are good dogs to be had in our many restaurants, O.C. has always been left wanting for a homegrown hot dog joint.

Wait. I know what you're going to say.

Yes, I've heard of Portillo's in Buena Park, which is part of a Chicago chain now open in Buena Park Downtown. I'm sure they do a fine dog, but it's not indigenous to these parts. We shan't claim it as our own as much as China wouldn't claim KFC as Chinese when it opened in Beijing.

Enter Jerry's Dogs.

With only two locations (in La Habra and Santa Ana), this is Orange County's own hot dog joint.

The name of the game at Jerry's Dogs is "Wood Fired". All the sausages get some roasting time above the lapping fires of the grill. And after soaking up a good bit of smoke and char, Jerry's invites you to load up toppings to your heart's content. There's 21 to choose from. But you'll be well advised to stop before sausage and bun get buried under a mountain of veggies, becoming a salad.

My favorite at Jerry's, however, is not the hot dog, but the fat, red sausage called the Jalapeno Hot Link ($4.50). Biting into the sausage's snappy membrane unleashes a juicy torrent of porky flavor and a latent peppery burn that hits at the back of the throat.

My toppings of choice in the prescribed order I ask my grill man to apply them are as follows:

Shake of celery salt.
Squirt of mayo.
Dollop of Dijon mustard.
Grilled onions.
Raw, fresh red and green peppers.
Diced tomatoes.

But most important of all is the request to grill the bun to a toasty brown before application of sausage and topping (which I forgot to do for the one pictured above). This is to fend off the onslaught of moisture until I take my last bite.

Jerry's also fries up homemade potato chips ($1.95), freshly prepared to order. But unfortunately, the chips have a short half life, quickly degrading and becoming limp if not eaten within seconds out of the hot oil. The fries ($1.95) are better, but also has the tendency to get soggy. I eat them as fodder, a palate cleanser between bites of the sandwich.

But you can use as much ketchup on the fries as you want. Heck, put some on your hot dog! They won't stare at you.

Jerry's Dogs
(714) 245-0200
2276 E 17th St
Santa Ana, CA 92705


At 10:59 PM, Blogger Seth Chadwick said...


As one who lived in NYC for a time, I know the dreaded hot dog debates. I simply know to order and keep my mouth shut, except to eat.

Great review of Jerry's and I will have to send J. over to check it out.

I wonder if there is anything they could do to extend the life of the potatoes. It sounds like they need to flash fry or do some sort of pre-cooking treatment to the potatoes before frying.

Also, thanks for the sing-a-long. Any baby boomer kid knows that song.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yeah...not sure what they can do to improve the crisp quotient of the chips and fries...perhaps they might need to just fry harder and longer.

Still, great sausages though.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Thanks Kimberly! This place is great ain't it?

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elmo - On some days there's nothing better then a "good dog"!

At 9:43 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

You got that right Kirk.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Passionate Eater said...

Hot diggity dog Elmo, now I want to go to Costco and grab me a hot dog and soda combo! I wanted to tell you, that I met up with Eat, Drink, and Be Merry not too long ago, and we talked eagerly about you (and also Kirk and Pam). We have such a deep and incredible appreciation for your contributions to the food blogging community, and your writing--whew! Again, the only words that aptly describe your ability to cripple me and make me hungry like an insane beast, is again, "hot diggity dog!"

Welcome back from your vacation!

At 9:41 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Thanks so much for those kind words. I have to return the compliment to you as I am always in awe of your writing, more so than others should be of my stuff.

With all this talk of blogs vs. newspaper reviews, and criticism of food blogs, sometimes I wonder when everyone forgot that this is supposed to be fun!

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't we all just get along????

At 3:40 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You said it. When it all stops being fun, then that's when we have to worry.

Sorry to have brought it up. I guess I was dizzy from reading about the controversy. This and the recent disappearance of Mealcentric has gotten me disoriented.

I wonder what's happened!? His blog vanished into the ether two days ago and today it seems that someone else has hijacked his address!

But the good news is that I also I heard from Diamond Dog of Eat OC recently. He's thinking of going back to blogging after an absence due to personal problems he faced last year.

I hope he does! It's getting lonely in the OC food bloggin' scene!

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Daily Gluttony said...


Great post! I totally agree with Kirk: "Can't we just all get along???" Seriously. Along with hot dogs, BBQ and pizza always tend to stir things up also!

Hey, and I just read your comment about Mealcentric! Bizarre--what's up w/ that???

At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did send MEalcentric an Email - and suggest you do the same. I do miss His insightful, and entertaining posts. He did respond to my Email on Thursday.

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great review.
You got my stomach rumbling with your description of the dogs and all the fixin's.
And fries as just a palate cleanser? I can't believe that! I think I just ate my last Costco dog.

BTW, I was flabbergasted at MEal's disappearance too! What was up with the hijacking of his name?

If anyone's heard from him, could you pass along any info?

Please let him know that he's missed very much.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ahh the great New York thin crust versus Chicago Deep Dish debate...forgot about that.


Thanks for writing in! I think you will be quite pleased with Jerry's. But hey, Costco dogs are pretty darned good too!


Thanks Kirk for the info about Mealcentric. I haven't contacted him yet, but hope he'll be back soon!

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad that you heard from Diamond Dog, BTW! I still check His blog every day or so in hopes of a new post.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Me too...hopefully he decides to jump back into it soon.

At 12:05 AM, Blogger BoLA said...

Man oh man! I absolutely LOVE them hot dogs! Oh and by the way, I always secretly wanted to be one of the Oscar Mayer drivers...LOL! I even have one of their whistles...hehehe! ;)

- your uber nerd of an online food friend!

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, I enjoy Jerry's dogs myself. Killer selection. Was wondering what you thought of PCH dogs on Chapman Avenue in Orange near prospect []. They charge a premium, but the dogs are IMHO solid. Keep up the good work

At 10:24 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Driving the Weinermobile, isn't that Homer Simpson's live-long dream?


PCH Dogs? Cool! I forgot about that place. I remember Gustavo Arellano reviewing it in OC Weekly.

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah give it a shot. they make a chicago dog the right way, too, IMHO.

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks! finally, another good sausage place i can check out. there's one other hotdog/sausage place in the OC area that i go to during lunch hours. It's called Haute Links. If you got time, check it out. It's pretty good.

located in Irvine in the plaza of Main and MacArthur Blvd. They only open on weekdays and during lunch hours, unfortunately

At 6:56 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Hey thanks for the tip, that's only a few blocks aways from where I work!

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to the Jerry's Dogs in la habra over the weekend and decided to start with the Signature Dog. the wood-fired process did make a difference--it was a darn good dog. but to me, the best dogs are always from those street vendors. maybe the messiness factor adds to the overall psychological impact. to me, the most unforgettable dog always happened when i was shivering in the cold. a good dog provides so much comfort.

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Jerry's yesterday. The food is okay, but the prices are absolutely ridiculous. I had a hot dog, some onion rings, and a cheeseburger and it cost me over $13. Stay away unless your pockets are overflowing with dinero.

At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup. This place is pricey considering you can get a hot dog and soda from Costco for $1.50.

But then, a mom-n-pop like this can never compete with Costco or Wienersnitchel.

The fact that we zoom in on prices and nit-pick on pennies is exactly why the independents are dying, and Walmart rules the world.

Welcome to the future folks. We made it this way. Congrats.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Completely with LehoCanto on this one. Is it a good hot dog? Yeah, absolutely. But when I went they were out of basically every single topping (no coleslaw? No sauerkraut? How is this even possible?) and though I don't mind paying for quality on occasion, the hot dogs weren't something so mind-blowing that I'd go again for how much I paid. The burger was so-so and overtly salty. I'm a poor college kid too, so sue me for wanting some decent food for cheap. Jerry's was okay for a spin but doesn't really warrant a lot of return visits on a tight budget, and I have no clue why some people are so adamant to defend it and turn it into an argument about the cruel dark hands of corporation taking over.

As for me, I could go for a Costco hot dog right now. Have fun.


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