Where to find 10 not-so-average corn dogs
This downtown Long Beach brewpub from Gabe Gordon, Lena Perelman and brewmaster Julian Shrago has earned a well-deserved reputation as a craft beer mecca, but don’t sleep on their comfort food. At dinner, chef Frank Hemstreet churns out mini lamb corn dogs ($9) with slightly gamy lamb merguez sausage cores. The well-spiced sausages come shrouded in crisp cornmeal batter seasoned with ground ginger, thyme and chile powder. Skewered bites bathe in canola oil and come with habanero-berry "katsup," a spicy, slightly sweet and bright purple puree of chiles, raspberries, shallots, allspice and ginger.
Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and André C. Vener have big plans for Dog Haus, the sausage-focused chain that sprouted near Pasadena City College. The three co-founders hired Adam Gertler as their Würstmacher (sausage master) and now offer the option to “Corn Dog It” at any of the Dog Haus locations for $4.99. Choose any sausage from a menu that includes spicy Thai red currywurst, chicken Fontina and Käsekrainer, a juicy Emmentaler cheese-stuffed pork sausage. Regardless, they dip each sausage in cornmeal batter bolstered with Boylan’s root beer and fry in soybean oil until crispy. Hit the condiment bar, which hosts an array of ketchups and salsas, though classic deli mustard may still pair best.
Eureka’s most ambitious outpost yet just might be at Hawthorne Airport, where Paul Frederick, Justin Nedelman and Robert Suzuki’s gastropub is now neighbors with Space X. The dining room faces the tarmac of this private airport, and servers go by "flight attendant." Their lollipop corn dogs ($7.50) appear as a bulbous quintet, with cross-sections of Polish sausage coated in cornmeal, sweetened with brown sugar and bronzed in canola oil. Since craft beer is the key to Eureka’s beverage program, they make a spicy mustard with Stone Brewing’s Smoked Porter to accompany the corn dogs. Housemade ketchup and ranch dressing are also available for quick dips.
Chef Neal Fraser is one of the driving forces behind The Original Farmers Market’s revival. The Redbird and BLD co-owner debuted a Fritzi Dog stall in 2012, featuring an array of hormone- and nitrate-free sausages. Fritzi Dog is also happy to turn any sausage into a corn dog, but for a completely original take, turn to the bacon pups ($3.95). They sous-vide slab bacon for 12 hours and chill it before cubing. Skewered cubes are battered with corn meal and deep-fried in rice bran oil, just like corn dogs, but even more savory.
This restaurant rests at the gate to historic Malibu Pier, so chef Jason Fullilove turned to the sea for inspiration for his corn dogs ($14/22). When in season, he uses prized Santa Barbara spot prawns; the rest of the year, he sources sun shrimp from Florida. In both cases, he blanches the sweet shrimp in Court Bouillon, pulls the tails, dips them in cornstarch and cornmeal batter and fries them. The heads also get treated to cornstarch and deep-frying. Plated tails and heads come with violet mustard, a spicy and tangy blend of grain mustard, dried cherries and port wine.
Chef Marc Elliot grew up in Brooklyn—not far from Coney Island, one of America’s corn dog capitals—so he had to have this dish on the menu at his American restaurant on the Sierra Madre/Pasadena border. The space features a fire red facade, yellow awning, big fence-framed patio and a bouquet of corndog lollipops ($7). Eight long-stemmed corn dogs feature Hebrew National beef cocktail franks coated in cornmeal batter that’s bolstered with beer, typically a lager like Olympia or Schlitz. Elliot says, "I'm looking for barley and bubbles, not the hops," which would conflict with the cornmeal's sweetness. The dipping sauce is housemade, organic mustard, which arrives in a stainless steel ramekin that rests in the middle of the “flowers.”
Chef Chris Oh, Ted Kim and Yong Kim, the co-founders of this high-voltage sausage house, are delivering powerhouse Korean-style corn dogs to Little Osaka. Spicy pork corn dog pups ($6) aren’t skewered, but feature cuts of housemade spicy pork sausage coated in cornbread batter and spiked with pureed kimchi and cheddar. The bites fry in canola oil and come with honey Sriracha mustard dipping sauce to amp up the kick even more.
Restaurateur Michael Cardenas named his latest concept after his grandfather’s fishing boat. The corner sushi bar on Manhattan Beach’s northern edge resides under the El Porto Building’s clock tower and touts a tiered wood interior. Here, red-hued Kobe beef corn dogs ($8) are coated with three types of cornmeal. The trio fries in soybean oil and comes with whole-grain Dijon mustard and ketchup.
This Santa Monica institution, which has stood sentinel at the mouth of the pier since 1923 (and 1999 under its current ownership) features glass-siding to accentuate the views, along with a seafood focus. Chef Collin Crannell was inspired by the pier and the restaurant’s namesake ingredient when creating lobster corn dogs ($15) for the bar menu. The casing-free sausage showcases Maine lobster meat, lobster roe, Mexican white shrimp and pork fat for moisture’s sake. The ingredients are rolled and poached before being dipped in cornmeal batter, which is studded with sweet corn in summer. The luxurious corn dog is deep-fried in canola oil and plated with sweet honey mustard, spicy chile oil and showered with chives.
Michael Dene, who already has three pizza, steak and pasta-fueled restaurants under his belt, teamed up with chef David Coleman on Working Class Kitchen, a nose-to-tail comfort food emporium in Long Beach. The space features a sustainable butcher shop and blackboard menus, which change as ingredients become available. Working Class Kitchen prepares a daily version of corn dog, but the sausage could be kielbasa, Andouille or something entirely different; during our visit, they crafted a deluxe Andouille corn dog ($7) with free-range Devil’s Gulch pork, sweet onion, milk powder, clove and smoke. Chef Coleman batters the sausage with gritty blue cornmeal, slides in a wood stick and fries to dark brown in an 80/20 blend of canola and olive oils.