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July 28, 2014

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Food fight: Chili Dogs

Breaking down Las Vegas’ best dogs piece by piece

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Beverly Poppe

Sammy’s LA Pastrami (left) vs. Pink’s (right)

THE BATTLE: Sammy's LA Pastrami (4035 S. Decatur Blvd.; 2191 East Tropicana Ave.) vs. Pink's (Planet Hollywood, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S.)

This one is going to get heavy. The only acceptable way to consume a hot dog is in a warm, steamed bun, covered in meaty, molten chili and cheese. Even the National Sausage and Hot Dog Council (seriously, it's real) says you shouldn't put ketchup on your frank if you're older than 18. So act like a man and choose your favorite wiener: Will it be our local, lovable dog shack, Sammy's, or the legendary Hollywood transplant, Pink's? Let. The. Dogs. Out.

THE EXTRAS

Sammy's: I ordered both dogs with chili, cheese, mustard and onions, and both Sammy's and Pink's forgot the onions. What are the odds? Sammy's piles on plenty of grated cheddar with a shot of mustard underneath the chili, and a nice soft bun serves as the foundation.

Pink's: Both dog joints use the same standard yellow mustard, but Pink's is more generous with the squeeze. A slice of processed cheese under the chili quickly melts into nothingness, and the dogs aren't the only things they grill here: This bun is toasty and too dry.

Winner: Sammy's

THE CHILI

Sammy's: Flavor and texture are the essentials. We're looking for a rich, thick chili with the right spice to complement the dog. Sammy's describes its chili as "meaty" but serves a thin, thoroughly disappointing rendition with more of a tomato taste. To make matters worse, the portion of chili on the dog was wimpy. Come on, guys.

Pink's: Whoa. This is serious chili, a frightfully dense, oily, deep-brown pile of danger. Despite a nice texture and obvious fat content, the flavor isn't overpowering. It could use a little spicing up, but still easily overwhelms the competition.

Winner: Pink's

THE DOG

Sammy's: Sabretts are the franks of choice at Sammy's, standard-sized New York-style all-beef dogs with a natural casing that should provide a crisp snap when you bite in. Preparation is "dirty water"-style, or boiled. Sabrett is a great brand with a slightly smoky, garlicky taste, and Sammy's usually does it right. This dog was a bit overcooked.

Pink's: The Pink family has been slinging dogs since 1939, so it's hard to second-guess their preference for all-beef Hoffy dogs. This thing is 10 inches long, grilled almost crisp, and biting into it is more an explosion than a snap. It tastes like a hot dog should, and the grilling brings a different twist.

Winner: Pink's

THE VERDICT

The Vegas Strip version of the iconic LA spot stays true to its roots and comes through. To be fair, Sammy's has shifted to a burgers-and-sandwiches theme recently, but that's no excuse for a nearly chili-less chili dog. Wiener wars come down to personal preference, favorite meatmakers and boiled New York-style versus grilled California-style. But it's the chili that makes it a chili dog, and that's what makes Pink's famous.

The Winner: Pink's

— Originally posted in Las Vegas Weekly

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