photo credit: Jakob Layman

Tail O' The Pup review image

Tail O' The Pup


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A meal at the refurbished Tail O’ The Pup hot dog stand in West Hollywood offers more than a chance to eat a well-built dog and slurp a milkshake at lunch. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in a joyous piece of LA nostalgia—regardless if you’re familiar with its history or not.

Tail O’ The Pup opened in 1946 on La Cienega near the present-day Beverly Center, serving as the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows. It jumped around over the years in an attempt to avoid the wrecking ball, finally meeting its demise in 2005 to make room for—you guessed it—condos. Luckily, the iconic hot dog-shaped stand itself was declared a city landmark and spent the next 17 years hanging out in a dark warehouse with an unclear future (relatable). But now, it’s back, only this time on Santa Monica Blvd. and with a more fleshed-out restaurant built around it. And as for the hot dogs? Those would be delicious in any era. 

Look for the line emanating from the 12-foot-long hot dog up front. It lures grown adults in like toddlers to an unlocked iPad. This is where you'll place your order. From there, find a seat on one of the patios adorned with red and white striped awnings, or head inside for some AC and wait for your number to be called. The whole space looks like a suped-up In-N-Out that's filled with tiny historical details (like the upstairs plaque commemorating the space as the old recording studio for The Doors) that add an extra element of established charm. One quick scan of the surrounding chain stores will reinforce how special this place is.

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Tail O’ The Pup’s menu has also gotten the expansion treatment. If you prefer your hot dog without many bells and whistles, the “1946 Pup” should be your first order. It comes with a hickory-smoked, all-beef dog that’s been split and topped with grilled onions and mustard. It’s a simple, balanced hot dog that tastes great. But TOTP’s true highlights lie elsewhere. Our favorites are the spicy “Jalapeno Pup” topped with raw jalapenos and a creamy jalapeno spread, and the “Chicago Pup,” an excellent version of the classic Chicago-style dog (sweet relish, dill pickle, and a garden of toppings) that reinforces what every Midwestern child is taught at birth: Chicago dogs are the best dogs.   

Suppose you show up to Tail O’ The Pup not in the mood to eat hot dogs. Slightly counterintuitive, sure, but not a dead end. Snag the “Sassy Cheese,” a delicious, fast food-style burger that comes with grilled onions, tomato, lettuce, and a thin layer of crispy, griddled cheese that crackles with each bite. There are also cinnamon-y chili cheese fries, crunchy onion rings, and soft serve reminiscent of the ones from a place that rhymes with FcBonald’s. Oh, and there’s canned wine and cocktails, and beer on tap, too.

TOTP is probably best used as a quick solo lunch spot, but the fact that it can also double as a fun, family-friendly hangout reinforces what should already be apparent: Tail O’ The Pup is for everyone. For the neighborhood, for the city, and for anyone else in the mood for a time warp. 

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Food Rundown

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Chicago Pup

When god gave man the idea for hot dogs, he clearly had the Chicago-style hot dog in mind. Tail O’ The Pup makes a very good version that is near the pinnacle of the form. Topped with sweet relish, onions, tomato, sliced sport peppers, mustard, poppy seeds, and a dill pickle spear, it’s proof that more is more—especially when it comes to flavor and texture. This is the best hot dog on the menu.

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

1946 Pup

This is a simple hot dog—it’s topped with just grilled onions and mustard—but when paired with the plump, hickory-smoked dog and toasted bun, you’ve got a tasty, on-the-go snack.

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Jalapeño Pup

Topped with a row of raw jalapeño slices, most of the heat on this dog actually comes from the creamy, mayo-based jalapeño spread underneath. After the Chicago Pup, this is our favorite on the menu.

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Sassy Cheese

Not only a great name for a pet hamster, this fast food-style burger holds its own at a place that prioritizes hot dogs. It comes on pillowy potato bun topped with grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce, a thousand island-ish house spread, and a layer of crispy, grilled cheese. It’s also not too big, meaning one Sassy Cheese and a hot dog is a reasonable order for one person.

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Chili Cheese Fries

We love chili and we love fries, but when put together, the combination usually ends up as a big soggy mess. So do what we do and order them separately at Tail O’ The Pup (then combine to taste). The fries here are thinly cut and crispy, and the house chili has a nice little punch of cinnamon in it.

Tail O' The Pup review image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Soft Serve

Don’t order TOTP’s soft serve expecting it to taste similar to the bespoke, small batch versions around town. This is classic, fast food-style soft serve, and that is one of the best compliments we could give.

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