Friday, April 6, 2012

Is Jerry's One of OC's Top Dogs?

Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs
1701 Corporate Drive Suite #C8
Ladera Ranch, CA 92694

Hot dogs have recently had a rebirth. There used to be just Weinerschnitel and the ones you got at baseball games. Sometimes Carl's Jr. would feature hot dogs on their menu, reliving their past when Carl Karcher started his food empire as a hot dog cart. Other than these places it was hard to find a restaurant devoted entirely to the wiener, frankfurter, red hot, or whatever you want to call it. That is until recently. Now hot dog places are popping up all over the place. Game Day Fire Grilled Hot Dogs, Berkeley Dog, Chicago Harv's, and Portillo's are a few that come to mind off the top of my head.

One of the first hot dog-centric restaurants that I remember opening is Jerry's Wood Fired Dogs. They opened in Santa Ana back in 2003. There actually is a Jerry. Born in Cleveland, he found himself in OC, and lamented the fact that a good hot dog was hard to find. After studying hot dogs from across the country, perfecting his wood grilling technique, and working with a sausage master, he opened his place. He must be on to something because there are now three more locations, (La Habra, Irvine, and the location we visited, Ladera Ranch).

We got to Jerry's on a Sunday at 2. This restaurant is a little hidden. Kind of had to hunt for it. There was a steady stream of customers throughout our visit here. Ordering is done at the counter, and then as soon as your dogs are ready you tell them what you want on your hot dog. With over 30 toppings to choose from, the combinations are endless. Let's see what we came up with.

Starting things off is my Mom's choice, the very simple Jerry's Signature Dog with mustard and relish. She really liked this all beef hot dog. Nice meaty flavor, and the bun was good too. It did not get in the way of the hot dog.

My Dad got the hot dog above.  At the counter they have specialty hot dogs that come with pre-determined toppings. This one is the Mushroom Swiss Dog. It had a chipotle mayo, grilled onions, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese. This had his name written all over it. He enjoyed this hot dog very much.

I had two hot dogs here, the first being this Jalapeno Hot Link with grilled onions, peppers, and chipotle mayo. The bun held together nicely, and this had a good pop of flavor. The hot link casing snapped when bitten into. The veggies were done right, still a little crunch to them after being grilled. Good hot link, with a good amount of heat.

My other hot dog selection was a little more radical. I went with the Southwest Hot Dog, another one of their signature dogs. This one featured a cavalcade of items, bacon, chili, onion, Frito's, cheese, and I added jalapenos and bacon bits for added flavor. Even with all of these items included, they all worked together to create a good tasting hot dog. Usually with so many big flavors they cancel each other out, not the case here. I would get this again in a second.

Katie did not get too crazy with her pick, an Uncle Frank's Italian Sausage with onions, peppers, and spicy brown mustard. This Italian pork sausage is made with fennel, garlic, Romano cheese, and a little red wine. The sausage was mild in flavor

This good looking hot dog belonged to Jarrod. He had the Pastrami Dog, with grilled onions, pepperoncini's, and spicy brown mustard. The pastrami was pretty good, as it seemed to be grilled a little bit. There was also plenty of it. Very good hot dog.

Jerry's not only features hot dogs, they have burgers as well. Katie's family is not much about hot dogs, so they all opted for other options, including the burgers above. Sara had the Quarter Pound Burger, simply dressed with thousand island dressing. Dennis went a little bigger with the Bacon Cheeseburger. Both of them seemed satisfied with their selections. I did not get to try either of these.

Lynn was feeling like chicken, so the natural choice for her to get was the BBQ Chicken Breast Sandwich. This sandwich is served on a whole wheat bun, and she chose to have bacon added, making this more of a chicken club sandwich. The sandwich looked good from where I was sitting.

The Skin-On French Fries are pretty good here. Good size for dipping, and made very fresh. These came out smoking hot. The Sweet Potato Fries are not really my kind of thing, but Katie liked them a lot. The Hot Potato Chips are probably the best of the sides. These chips were a little on the salty side, but there is something magical about having warm potato chips in your hand. Could be the novelty of it, but this is the side item to get here.

Jerry's was recently named one of the top ten hot dog destinations in Orange County by OC Weekly. I can totally see why they made this list. The hot dogs are really good, and the variety of toppings are very impressive. With seven varieties of hot dogs, six kinds of sausage, and thirty toppings, you could eat here for decades and never have the same meal twice. The guys behind the counter were very laid back and answered all of our questions. Prices, as you would expect are relatively low. No menu item is over $7. We are really happy that hot dog joints are popping up all over the place.

Out of five airplanes, (because O'Hare Airport in Chicago sells more hot dogs than any other single location in the USA, 2 million a year!), five being best to zero being worst, Jerry's Wood Fired Dogs gets 3 airplanes.

For more information on Jerry's Wood Fired Dogs, click here:

Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs on Urbanspoon


  1. "Prices, as you would expect are relatively low. No menu item is over $7."

    I've eaten at Jerry's Dogs in Tustin. Yes, it is good, but the prices are far from "relatively low." A basic hot dog is $4. That is ballpark territory, without the ballpark. These aren't oversized hot dogs - they're slightly larger than what you get out of a package at the grocery store.

    The hot dogs are par-boiled then finished over a "wood fired" grill -- but "boiled" hot dogs doesn't advertise as well.

    Agreed the chips are good - much better than the other side options. But at almost $3 for an average size serving, they are a complete novelty.

    Their sausages are better than their hot dogs. Much more flavorful than the hot dogs such as the Italian sausage with fennel or the Jalapeno hot link. But at $6 for a sausage, not worth the price.

    The ability to add a bunch of toppings does not justify the high prices. It is tubed beef for crying out loud.

  2. Jerry's is pretty good. The buns could be better though.

    Still not as good as PCH.

  3. Anonymous - If you look at all the hot dog places that OC Weekly put on their top ten list, they all cost about the same, around $3.50, give or take fifty cents, for a basic hot dog. Besides Costco and Wienerschnitzel, where would you suggest getting a better hot dog for less money? I would love to try it out. Thanks for the comment.

    Taylor - I am looking forward to trying PCH, it has been on my list for sometime now. Just haven't made it over there yet. You are correct, the buns at Jerry's are unmemorable. Thanks for the comment.

  4. I like Jerry's Dogs, but actually like their burgers and topping selections better. I'd be interested to see what your take is on Berekeley Dog (and PCH) if you get a chance to go there. I've only been to the near-UCI location, but I would expect the one on Marguerite would be up your alley. I am of fan of theirs.

  5. MikeHu - I have heard good things about the burgers at Jerry's and will give them a try. We have been to Berkeley Dog twice. You can read those reviews here:

    The bun really gets in the way at Berkeley Dog. The meats are good, but get lost in the sea of bread. Still looking forward to going to PCH though. Thanks for the comment!

  6. Thanks! I definitely missed your earlier reviews. I'm more accepting of their rolls, but you made a lot of great points.