Another locally beloved NJ hot dog, the Ripper is the nickname for the pork-and-beef blended Sabrett frankfurter whose natural casing cracks and “rips” open when deep-fried. It is perhaps the nation’s greatest hot dog—well, at least according to the Daily Meal in its Top Hot Dogs list of 2018, 2019, and 2020. But who’s counting?
Where: In Clifton, Rutt’s Hutt (417 River Rd., map) started out as a roadside stand when Royal “Abe” Rutt and his wife, Anna, opened it in 1928. In 1974, they sold this culinary landmark to the current ownership, and they’ve been frying up Rippers for locals and food-trippers ever since. While deep-frying is a common preparation at many North Jersey hot dog shops, no one seems to be able to do it as well.
When: Rutt’s is currently open daily for pickup and takeout orders only, from 8am to 8pm.
The new normal: During the Covid-19 pandemic, Rutt’s Hutt’s large parking lot has become the new socially distanced spot to tailgate and enjoy hot dogs by your car.
Order: Stop by the unpretentious takeout counter for a quick Frenchy one, traveling Ripper, and birchie. That’s Rutt speak for a side of fries ($2.20), a hot dog ($2.35), and a Boylan’s birch beer to go. (You can also pair with a regular beer.) We recommend you try gravy on your fries and order a side of onion rings too, but the real star of the show here is the homemade mustard-and-cabbage-based relish available for doctoring up your dog. Apply with the heaviest of hands!
If you have a little more time, dine inside the restaurant and enjoy the surprisingly eccentric menu and full bar. Roast Long Island duck with orange sauce ($10.10)? Fish cakes and spaghetti ($7.95)? Finish your meal with the homemade rice bread pudding.
Note: If a classic Ripper isn’t your thing (but, really, it should be!), you can ask for an “in-and-outer” (i.e., lightly cooked, more like a traditional hot dog), a “weller” (cooked well done, a bit charred), or a “cremator” (fried to a crisp—build yourself up to this one!).
Alternatively: It has to be Rutt’s Hut! —Contributed by Adam Horvath (Foodigenous)