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Bubba's Dog House


John
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This past Thursday a friend and I visited Bubba's Dog House on Valley Brook Ave. in Lyndhurst. It's a fairly new place that has been open about 6 months. We had heard that they serve a Thumann's ripper, Sabrett dirty water dog, and Italian Hot Dog with Best's franks. The restaurant itself is clean, spacious, and nice looking. Behind the counter is a grill, griddle, and a deep fryer. Also a small compartment with water for the dirty water dogs.

Before ordering we asked some (actually many) questions about the hot dogs offered, brands used, how they decided upon the offerings, etc. Just as we were getting started, Sharon, the owner emerged from the back and introduced herself to us. She is a delightful woman who was very forthcoming regarding the brands of hot dog, mustard, how the chili was made, and other details about her business. Unlike others who prefer to keep what they serve a secret, Sharon prefers that customers know what they are getting. She also did a lot of research before deciding on what to offer. Some of that research was perusing forums like Egullet and Roadfood to get an idea of what New Jersey Hot Dog lovers like. I can tell you that Bubba's pays great attention to detail. They care about quality and offer top quality food at a good value.

Before describing the hot dogs, let me mention that you can get a variety of burgers and chicken choices. The fries are hand cut and twice fried. Because we had 2 regular dogs and a double Italian Hot Dog, we didn't get a chance to sample the fries or burgers. Next time, maybe. We were told that the fresh ground beef that makes up the burgers is exceptionally good and that the burgers are the best that Sharon has had. She strongly recommended them. Bubba's toppings include sweet and hot onions, sauerkraut, potato, baked beans, cheese wiz, bacon bits, raw onions, mustard relish, sweet relish, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and of course, mustard. There are 2 mustards; a honey mustard for the chicken and Gold's Dusseldorf mustard for the hot dogs.

As for the hot dogs, Bubba's offers: 1) The Dirty Dog. This is a natural casing 11 to a lb Sabrett dog heated in water (not boiled) that is set to 165 degrees. While we were at the counter speaking with Sharon, I noticed a few dogs that were sitting in the water. At home I have the luxury of putting my dogs in the water and taking them out at the right time. One disadvantage of having a restaurant is not knowing exactly when someone will order a dirty water dog. They lose their flavor and snap when left too long in the water. Sharon assured us that she only has a few in the water and throws them out before letting them sit there. We did not sample one of these dogs.

2)The Ripper. This is the Thumann's dog made for deep frying that is common in North Jersey and can be found at Rutt's Hut, Hiram's, Hot Dog Heaven, Libby's, Goffle Grill, and a slew of others.

3) The Charbroil Dog. We were unaware that this dog was on the menu. It is the 5 to a lb, natural casing Best's dog, more commonly known as the Syd's dog. Great to find another place that serves this Jersey Classic. So far we have Jimmy Buff's East Hanover, Seymours, and now Bubba's.

4) The Italian Hot Dog. An authentic Newark style Italian Hot dog made with pizza bread, 2 10 to a lb Best skinless franks, peppers (green and red), onions, and potatoes cut in chunks, like Dickiee Dees.

5) Mick Married Marie. 2 Best dogs stuffed into pizza bread with potatoes, cheese wiz, and ketchup. This is the other of the five offerings that we did not sample.

I had the Ripper first. This is an easy dog to prepare and a hard one to screw up. Just heat it in oil for a sufficient amount of time. Many places that use this dog don't leave it in the oil long enough. At Rutt's, this is called an In n Outer. I prefer mine well done. Being that this was my first visit, I ordered mine well done and it came out as ordered. Customers are encouraged to watch the food being prepared and even to specify when they want the dogs plucked from the oil or to what degree they want them cooked to. Sharon has done her homework and visited many of the state's well known hot dog joints. As I mentioned, they pay great attention to detail. Sharon told me that the worse thing you can do to a hot dog is to not have it prepared hot enough. I agree. You will always get your dogs hot and fresh here. This was our experience. This (the Ripper) is one dog that I will have something other than mustard on. I had mustard on the dog and chili on half. The chili was homemade and very good. Not a Texas Weiner style chili, but a thick meaty one with a slightly spicy aftertaste. Ingredients include beef, sausage, bacon, and beer. It goes great on the Ripper. All in all an excellent dog.

Next up was the Charbroiled, or Syd's dog. This one was prepared on a grill similar to Syd's. Sharon was familiar with how Syd's served their dogs (boiled first, then grilled) but here they are charbroiled without being placed in water. Or oil like Jimmy Buff's does it. They don't have a compartment big enough to fit these dogs in order to heat in water. I would suggest putting a pot on the griddle. My dog came out perfect. It was hot and juicy. I felt like I was back at Syd's. There is no finer dog, and I'm glad that there is now another place that serves this dog. Sharon was smart enough to realize how popular this dog was, and to offer it at her restaurant. It is her favorite as well. Also a very good value at $2.95. I had mine with just mustard. They usually put the dog on a longer roll. This is good if you are going to have chili or some other topping on your dog. I prefer the regular hot dog bun and requested this. It is a Pechters/Rockland Bakery dog.

Last was the Italian Hot Dog. The bread used came from Calandra's Bakery in Newark. I was skeptical when I heard this because the 2 times I had this bread on an Italian Hot Dog it fell apart. Not this time. It was sturdy and sufficient. The dogs were Best skinless, which in my opinion is the only choice for an Italian Hot Dog. These dogs, as well as the Rippers are fried in peanut oil. The peppers and onions are heated on the griddle, while the potato chunks are heated in the oil with the dogs. The Italian Hot Dog here was a very big, substantial sandwich at a great value. It went for $5.50. It was a solid, well prepared, better than average example of this sandwich. Although I prefer the potatoes sliced thin (like Jimmy Buff's and Tommy's), these were very good. Hot and tasty. They are boiled first and then fried.

Bubba's exceeded my expectations. Customer service is exemplary. I loved the owner's attitude and willingness to share information. I appreciate the research that she's done in an attempt to cater to the true hot dog lover. I like the attention to detail and the fact that every type of dog is prepared right, which is hard to do when you are doing more than one style. I also learned that some of their distributors allow them to have small quantities delivered frequently so that everything is fresh and doesn't stay long at the restaurant. They will visit the other manufacturer who will not ship a small quantity and buy what they need there.

I wish Sharon and Bubba's success. They are good people serving a fine product and providing excellent service. I would love to include them on the next Hot Dog Tour.

John the hot dog guy

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Wow, did we have opposite experiences, John! I was there 3-4 months ago and have to say that the thing that impressed me the most was the décor! The place makes you feel like you’re beachfront-a good thing, imo, and I agree that it was spotless. I went with two friends and in addition to having little-no luck in engaging one of the owners (I’m now assuming it was Sharon’s husband), many of our questions went unanswered, and we were thoroughly unimpressed by the dogs and the fries we tried. I realize that I'm not a hot dog expert :raz: , so maybe that made a difference to them, but in my mind, a customer is a customer, and we weren’t pestering anyone - just expressing an interest and asking a few questions.

Iirc, we tried the dirty water dogs and the ripper. What I definitely remember is that we all hated the roll, which was dry, crumbly and tasteless, and that the (sweet potato and regular) fries were so unmemorable that we didn’t finish them. Perhaps things have changed since that visit. I guess I’ll have to go back and see if anything is different…

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Curlz,

I would suggest giving it another try. I think they may have made some changes since you've gone. Although I didn't have the fries, they are freshly made, hand cut and twice fried. They looked good when I saw them on other customers plates. I believe they may have changed the roll as well. Ours were fresh. So were the dogs.

Sharon, who is there most of the time, was pleasant and had a great attitude. We met her husband when he came in later, but didn't really get a chance to speak with him. I agree with you about the decor. My friend described it in his post over on Roadfood.com.

I always try to go back to a place if I've had a bad experience, especially if it's fairly new. Unless of course I know that the hot dogs were well prepared but I just didn't like the particular flavor, brand or method of cooking. One place I'm looking to go to is the recently opened New England Hot Dog Co. on Rt. 9 in Freehold. I spoke with the owner who said that they are still working out the kinks and making a few changes. It is for this reason that I will probably wait before going.

If you return to Bubba's, definitely try the charbroiled (Syd's) dog. None better in my opinion.

John the hot dog guy

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I always try to go back to a place if I've had a bad experience, especially if it's fairly new.

Thanks, John. While I agree that new places should be given more than one chance, it honestly hasn't occurred to me to go back to Bubba's for two reasons--first and foremost, because I'm really not a regular hot dog eater, and secondly, because of my initial impression. When I do need a hot dog 'fix,' I go to Amazing Hot Dog, but I’ll keep this place in mind if only because of the Syd’s dog.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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John - that was a great writeup with excellent detail.

One question about the rolls - are they "regular" hot dog rolls, or those potato-flour rolls that some places use (which I don't much like)?

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Ghostrider,

The rolls are Pechters/Rockland Bakery. Rockland Bakery bought out Pechters. Since Bakers Touch cheapened their rolls, many places that used them have switched. Pechters are very good, as are Sabrett. Both are food service rolls which are baked individually (not stuck together like supermarket buns) and more sturdy than what you get in stores. If you order the longer Syd's dog, Bubba's will put it on a longer roll from Harvest Pride, which is distributed by Pechter's. Good, but too much bread for the dog. I would go with this one if I was ordering the Syd's dog with chili or other toppings. Since this dog is so good that it tastes fine with just mustard, I specifically requested the regular (Pecter's) roll.

John the hot dog guy

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I live about a block from here and it is on my list for a visit about once a week. One thing I need to mention is the chile, it is about the best hot dog chile I ever tasted. Three kinds of meat, good flavor, perfect texture for hot dogs. Sharon makes it herself. I recommend the chile hot dog plain -- no mustard or anything to get in the way of the chile.

The dirty water hot dogs always have that good "snap" to them -- you could tell they were not sitting in the water all day, just long enough. The only "downer" for me is that the hot dog rolls are made in that poofy Wonder bread style. It doesn't really stand up to the rest of the dog, they need to switch HD rolls with a little more substance. It wasn't dry and crumbly like Curlz experienced, it was just squishy white bread.

I never tried their ripper because it looked a bit greasy and I figured they could never compare to Rutt's hut. They also make a nice burger too, sort of a medium sized affair. Again, I get mine smothered in their chile.

Edited by Batard (log)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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Curlz,

The Syd's dog is definitely worth going for. As I mentioned, I like it so much that I just get it with mustard, as good as the homemade chili is. And it is grilled on a real charcoal grill. Syd's had a gas grill. By the way, how do you like the new dog at Amazing compared to the old one? I still prefer Best to what they're using now although the new dog is a quality dog that fries up well. And I'm glad that I can sample a dog that otherwise I would not have access to unless I order 10 pounds from the manufacturer. I can get them at Amazing to eat there, or buy them cold to prepare at home.

Batard,

I envy you living within walking distance of a great place like Bubba's. I didn't have the dirty water dog, but am glad to hear that they weren't sitting in the water long and still retained their snap. When sampling a dirty water dog I look for 1) a good snap which is a result of the dog having a natural casing and not being left in the water long enough to lose snap and flavor, 2) if it's hot enough. Warm, lukewarm, or cold doesn't do it for me. You would be surprised how many places serve dogs that aren't heated sufficiently. 3) I like a dirty water dog ideally 8 or 10 to a lb in size. Anything smaller than that is too small, although I'm not as strict on this last point as I used to be. I've found that the 8 to a lb Sabrett doesn't have as tight a casing as I'd like, so 10 is best. For a Best brand dirty water dog, 8 to a lb is ideal. You can get these at Jerry's in Elizabeth.

The ripper was good. No place can compare to Rutt's because no one has their unique relish which perfectly complements a well done (weller) dog there. Out of all the places that serve this dog (Thumanns deep fryer or ripper) the ones I like the best are the ones that fry it longest. Now I just request it well done wherever I get it. I've found that almost every place that serves this dog does a decent job with it. At Bubba's, I would get the chili on the ripper. Bubba's fries the rippers in peanut oil, which is good. Rutt's fries theirs in beef tallow which is better. I don't care about the trans fats. Hot dogs aren't exactly health food anyway.

I'd have to disagree with you about the roll. The Pecters bun held up well on not only the ripper, but the larger Syd's dog. I buy these from either Pechter's or Father & Son in Linden who uses them for their dogs. You can request that the roll be toasted if you want. I prefer these rolls to potato rolls, though a Martins potato roll is a good choice if you're serving a fat quarter pounder like Amazing Hot Dog. I'm not crazy about the longer roll used for the footlong. It is from Harvest Pride in Baltimore. Sharon is considering switching to another brand.

Next time I'll try the burger.

John the hot dog guy

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Oh one thing to add, they have a great lineup of Boylan's sodas.

A Boylans Red Birch Beer with a Bubba's chile dog can't be over-rated. ;)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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Hey John,

I wish you has posted this a few days earlier. I just spent a week in NJ. The only hot dog place I hit was the Hot Grill in Clifton. For some reason I wasn't thrilled with my 2 all the way dogs. I am just not sure what was different than how I remember them in the past. Plus they are now $2.05 each.

-Scott

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  • 2 years later...

It appears that Bubba's has closed.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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They haven't closed. They are down on the Seaside Boardwalk for the summer. Bubba is working eighteen hour days and doing well. They are looking for a new permanent location close to Lyndhurst. Parking and location there isn't great. They own the building and will be back there once the summer is over while continuing to look for a new location.

Their dogs are consistently good. They have been picked by the Star Ledger to serve their dogs (the Syd's 5 to a lb) the last 3 years years at the Munchmobile kickoff.

John the hot dog guy

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Well, then, I stand somewhat corrected--they're open in Seaside, but trust me--they're closed in Lyndhurst. Sign is gone, place is dark, and the sandwich board out front doesn't say anything like "Visit us in Seaside Heights"--just saying. Perhaps they'll head back in this direction at some point, but they're not where they were!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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They still own the building. I've spoken to Sharon in May at the Munchmobile kickoff. They are not sure what the future has in store for them, but they are currently looking to relocate close to Lyndhurst once the summer ends and they are no longer at the Seaside Boardwalk. If they find a place, they will relocate and sell the Lyndhurst building. If nothing happens between now and then, they will be back in Lyndhurst while continuing to search for a better location. I'll keep you posted.

John the hot dog guy

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