My expectation a few months ago was that by January I would be enjoying excellent winter-appropriate sandwiches because of the change of season here in Los Angeles seems to have fallen short.
Granted, I wasn't expecting the same temperatures as I had in Philadelphia, but I did expect something cooler than 80 degrees. Something that would make grilled cheese and tomato soup mildly appropriate.
Instead, this past weekend I found myself at a classic San Fernando Valley location with summer appropriate foods: Carney's.
This location on Ventura Blvd. has been around since 1981 (the original on Sunset has been around since 1975). The original owners, John Wolf Sr. and his wife Pat wanted to have an eatery that was memorable and easy to move if their original lease on Sunset Blvd. became too expensive. So they built the first location with an old Pacific Railroad passenger train.
The image of Carney's being cooked and served on an old rail car became so synonymous with the name that they kept with this theme when they opened the second location in Studio City.
I ordered the Carney's Spicy Polish, a grilled spicy sausage topped with chili, cheese, onions and thick sliced tomatoes. The sausage was delicious, well grilled and a little bit of a spicy kick. Despite all of the toppings, the flavor of the sausage still shone through.
The chili added a bit of spice and smoke flavor to the mix, and it was added in copious amounts to the top of the sausage making this a slightly messy meal. The thickly sliced tomatoes were a great topper and not mealy at all. I ended up picking these off and eating them separately since the sandwich was already too big to take a bite out of of. The fresh flavor offered by the tomatoes was an excellent contrast to the savory flavor of the rest of the meal.
The only thing that may be off-putting to some people is that the onions are not cooked. Maybe this wouldn't be a problem on a different sandwich, but it was somewhat odd that they weren't grilled for this one. I feel like that extra step would have put this sandwich over the top.
Overall, the experience of eating in an old train car, as well as eating at a Los Angeles institution was excellent, and something I hope to do again sometime soon.
Oh, and for those outside the city who have always heard about Pink's and how awesome their hot dogs are? Carney's is just as good (if not better) and you won't have a two hour wait for a hot dog.
Make this your must-have hot dog on your next stop in the city.
Until next week...
Carney's Spicy Polish
Carney's Studio City
12601 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604