Sunday, November 22, 2009
Take Me Out to the Infield: The Infield Hot Dogs in Sherman Oaks
Finding an authentic Chicago dog is LA is a challenge. Usually, there is something wrong with the toppings: The relish is the usual style rather than the fluorescent green variety, they use peperoncini instead of sport peppers, the bun isn't poppy seeded and, worst of all, there is little or no celery salt. While I tend to favor New York style dogs, I'm always happy to find a place that does a Chicago dog correctly, and I was pleased to see that The Infield hot dog stand hit all of those notes on the toppings.
The infield is a stand on the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Beverly Glen in Sherman Oaks. The doggery is heavily baseball themed, complete with actual stadium seats, a baseball related soundtrack and baseball card pictures.
The menu offers a wide variety of dogs. I tried the aforementioned Chicago dog and a chili cheese dog. This place gets its toppings right. The Chicago toppings were classic with plenty of celery salt. The chili on the chili cheese dog was very good and not excessively greasy, which I appreciate in a chili dog. Sadly, while the toppings were done right, the dogs were lackluster. The natural casing dogs simply didn't have anywhere near the requisite snap. A dog should literally pop open in your mouth, hurling its juices down your throat. These dogs just didn't do that.
At The Infield, you can actually pick your dog meat from a list that, on the day I was there, included Sabretts, Hebrew Nationals, Viennas, Nathan's, Trader Joe's and several sausages. While I like the concept of picking the dog meat, the dogs they offered were pretty typical. Nothing wrong with Sabretts or Nathan's, in particular mind you, but they don't compare to the places that make their own or specially order their dogs.
The other thing that concerns me is that this place just seems to be trying to do too much. While all they serve are hot dogs (and fries), they are trying to cover everything from chili dogs to New York dogs to Chicago dogs to New Jersey style deep fried dogs. They even have a dessert dogs menu with horrific sounding preparations like the Deep Fried Twinkie Dog, consisting of a hot dog sandwiched in a deep fried Twinkie. The truth is that while hot dogs would seem to be a narrow specialty, most doggeries only do one type of dog (or at least, only do one type well), and it's hard to be all things to all hot dog eaters.
Still, the menu is novel and varied enough that I will probably be back to try more of the creative offerings. Who knows, maybe even a Deep Fried Twinkie Dog.
14333 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423