I know that I made fun of hot dogs in a previous post, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them – I had several on a recent weekend trip to Baltimore. Most of them were traditional ball-park franks, doing the little round hot treadmill thing or grilled, but I tried one cooked in a manner that all those at-home specialty machines left out: deep fried.
I’m sure that there are some who already know where I’m going with this: Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ. Yes, a deep fried hot dog is their specialty and it is everything you would expect or fear it would be, depending on your point of view: crispy on the outside, slightly greasy and quite different.
We stopped as a lunch break after making it past the George Washington Bridge on our way to Baltimore. I had heard about Rutt’s on the Food Network years ago, though I couldn’t remember the name of it. A quick search for "deep fried hot dogs" revealed it easily enough and it was close enough to the highway to be a convenient quick stop. Apparently the concept of a deep-fried hot dog had lodged itself in my memory and now it is lodged in my arteries.
So what did I think of it? It was good. The hot dog was good and the deep frying gave it a different texture, but I can’t honestly say it was quite as groundbreaking as I thought it would be. Maybe I waited too long to try one after hearing about it and I had simply built it up too much. I would go again if I found myself in the area, but wouldn’t go too far out of my way either.
I also wouldn’t say that Rutt’s is a defining food for the area. Hot dogs in general may be a definitive food for the NYC and NJ area, just as coffee milk is for Rhode Island, chili is for Cincinnati, cheesesteaks are for Philly, deep dish pizza for Chicago, etc. etc., but Rutt’s is one of those pleasantly quirky oddities that you experience when you keep your eyes, ears, and mind open while traveling.