April 27, 2012
18 South Michigan Avenue
Kenilworth, NJ 07033
  • Cost: $
  • Alcohol: None
  • Parking: Street
  • Take Out: Yes

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April 27, 2012


Update Feb 2014 – A second Charlie’s location has opened in Union, NJ (2576 Route 22 East)

Since 1962, Charlie’s “Famous” Italian Hot Dogs in Kenilworth has battled all comers for the title of best Italian dog in Jersey. At Charlie’s, each component of the traditional Italian Hot Dog – a hot dog (or two, if you’re hungry), sweet peppers, onions and sliced potatoes – is deep fried separately before the sandwich (meal) is assembled in a half-round pizza bread with a smear of spicy brown mustard. I tried the single on my visit. The bread is soft, but not too soft. The natural casing dog has an excellent snap and flavor. The potatoes are not healthy, of course, but I found them crispy and less greasy than those at Dickie Dee’s or Jimmy Buff’s, where all the ingredients are deep fried together.

Charlie’s menu includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Italian sausages and disco fries. Add potatoes, peppers and onions to any sandwich for Italian Style. There is a second Charlie’s location on Route 22 East in Union.

A recent “Food Wars” episode pitted Charlie’s Famous against the legendary Jimmy Buff’s. The three judges, including the Star-Ledger’s Pete Genovese, gave the title to Charlie’s. The episode was running in a continuous loop on a TV in the restaurant when I visited. James Racioppi, owner of Jimmy Buff’s, was gracious in defeat on the show, but I noticed a new Jimmy Buff’s location has opened in Kenilworth, right around the corner from Charlie’s. Bad news for Kenilworth waistlines. Good news for anyone who wants to conduct their own Italian Dog throw-down. Add a stop at nearby Galloping Hill Grill  in Union, my #2 favorite hot dog joint, and you’ve got a mini New Jersey hot dog tour in Union County.