Tag Archives: hot dogs

Leftovers: Toni’s Soul Burger and Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog

All-American soul power for the L.A. Times:


PHOTO by LUIS SINCO / L.A. TIMES

For every restaurant whose menu reads like a doctoral thesis on globalization, there are those that still consider a kind of insular Americana the noblest pursuit. These are the dens of hard-line pit masters and down-home confectioners, restaurants where the American culinary heritage provides incubation for innovation.

At the similarly minded but altogether unaffiliated Toni’s Soul Burgers in Inglewood and Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog in North Hollywood, that American ingenuity takes the form of a double dose of comfort: hybridized hamburgers and hot dogs fused with soul food.

Toni Malone’s towering burgers may be the most ambitious in all of Los Angeles. Yet there are no contrivances here: no custom-ground meat blends, no willful denial of ketchup and no flavors fortified by what might otherwise amount to a chemistry experiment. Instead, the restaurant’s signature burger is a tender, hand-formed turkey patty, a crispy lattice of turkey bacon, a firmly fried egg, a single slice of cheese, sweet mashed yams and wilted collard greens on a gently toasted sesame-seed bun. It’s a triumph of maximalism, a burger in expert balance despite its seeming overabundance of ingredients.

Each soul burger is constructed in a tiny storefront so close to Hollywood Park that you can nearly hear hooves hitting dirt. What scarce space there is has been decorated with framed photos of soul and R&B legends, a nod to Malone’s own powerful voice. Neighborhood kids and young families crowd in for takeout while Malone, earnest and effervescent, explains the intricacies of her burgers to those here for the first time.

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Leftovers: Mustard’s

Downing dogs for the District:


PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES

It’s the first taste of tubed meat that’s often the best—the snap of charred skin, the unearthing of a dozen dead memories. The hot dog isn’t just a signal of summer, but of an American childhood spent at the beach, or the fair, or the ballpark. And although the Southland isn’t without its own famous dog dealers—Pink’s, Tail o’ the Pup, the surreptitious street chefs grilling bacon-wrapped Sonora dogs—it’s common knowledge that this is the taco truck’s domain. Mustard’s knows this and has always known this. That’s why the restaurant smartly subscribes to the Chicago school of hot dogs.

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