We made a right onto Hollywood Boulevard. It was going to be a good hard dose of Skooby’s to sober us up and shake that icky XES afterglow. We were even able to slip right into a parking spot directly across the street. Just as we were about to step into the crosswalk, we saw – it was closed. 1:30 am and Skooby’s was shut down for the evening. Not even a last call.
So we continued along Hollywood Boulevard. We thought of Pink’s. I’ve never been there, and though many people get their tongue tied in knots over the place, I’ve never wanted to go there. Parking, my number two pet peeve, is not an issue, since Pink's haa a few spots of their own behind the stand. But I’ve never had the desire to wait in a line that snakes back and forth in front of the place at least five times. That’s my number one pet peeve – lines. And I don’t like hot dogs that much anyway.
But strangely enough, from about a block away, we spied that the crowd in front of Pink’s was uncharacteristically sparse. It was now or never, because there would never be another chance with a wait this short. And the odds were so much in our favor, as we again, slipped into a sweet little parking spot on the street. A strong smell of grease was in the air, even a half block away.
We hopped into place to start the slow shuffle around the poles and chains that shape the line. It’s mostly a youngish, straight-from-the-nightlife-scene clientele who decided to play it responsible on a school night and go home even before last call. If I never paid attention to a fashion magazine in the last six months, I would still have been able to guess that espadrilles and wedges were all the rage, based on the four or five pairs we saw in line.
The menu, posted on four panels across the back wall, is enormous and somewhat overwhelming. One whole panel is dedicated to their baby, the hot dog. There are different types of the actual dog – regular, 10” stretch, spicy – and different combinations of toppings. Pastrami on a dog. Who knew?
The next panel has burgers, and the last two panels have miscellaneous junk foods like burritos, nachos, onion rings, french fries, and add-ons. Funny, I could go to Pink’s for five days straight without ever touching a hot dog, and love everything I ate. Nachos. There’s no bare wall space, as every inch is covered by signs describing special dogs. I’m scared - the Martha Stewart Dog. Yikes. The line is slowly moving, and in the final stretch in which we step sideways to the left, I can see over the heat lamps on the onion rings and the bottom of the barrel of the fries and watch the four people assembling dogs.
We just wanted something simple, so we ordered a chili cheese dog and fries. We swung around the corner into the waiting area, paid the $5-with-change-back, and waited with the other expectant diners.
Pink’s isn’t just a hot dog stand. There is a tiny little dining room of sorts inside that opens up to a back patio with tables and chairs. It’s not exactly a place you’d take a date (unless perhaps it’s someone you just met that night?), but it’s clean. Surprisingly too, the bathroom is spotless. We plop our now three-quarters sober selves at table inside.
The fries are long and straight, fried dark, or perhaps slightly tanned under the light of the heat lamp, and very suspiciously crispy. It looks like they take a dip in a starch batter before frying for extra crispness (like they do at Jack in the Box). I don’t need ketchup, but I do scoop a bit of the chili up with a fry for a taste.
The chili dog looks pretty much like a chili dog should. The chili isn’t chunky, just ground meat, and it’s shiny. Not shiny as in beautiful and shiny, but shiny as in the meat is floating in fairly deep puddles of grease. I stopped dipping my fries and nibble on some small yellow chili peppers that I’ve snagged from the condiment bar. I wasn’t drunk enough to not care about my arteries. Or my waistline, since I was still in my stupid silly stylin’ for XES.
We finished up, grabbed the private-labeled Pink’s bottled water and headed out. It wasn't life-changing. I haven't been converted to serious hotdog-ism. I can just matter-of-factly say I’ve been to Pink’s since it is quite an institution in LA, but I definitely don’t need to go back.
Pink's Hot Dog Stand
709 North La Brea Ave. (@ Melrose)
Los Angeles, CA 90038