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It's A Dog Town

The hot dog enjoys a renaissance in Los Angeles.

November 10, 2011|Jessica Gelt

Because it's in the middle of Sunset Strip, Coney Dog also feeds long lines of hungry glitterati late at night. Binder, who opened the business with friends and fellow Detroiters Tim Allen and Sam Raimi, uses his Facebook page to advertise specials, sometimes giving coupons for a free hot dog. His Coney dogs are 80% beef, 20% pork and have a little milk in them, but nothing else.

The Coney Island dog of Binder's youth offered two choices: a hot dog with chili or a loose burger. Binder thought he might do the same thing until he realized that such a scheme wouldn't fly in wildly diverse Los Angeles.

"Todd Phillips, the director of 'The Hangover,' came in and said, 'I love your food, but why can't I get sauerkraut?'" says Binder, who resisted at first but now offers all manner of variations, including a classic bacon-wrapped L.A. dog with jalapenos.

"Hot dogs and hamburgers are all about what you did in your childhood," he says, adding that he hopes to make Coney Dog a tradition for a new generation of L.A. youth.

The same goes for the trio of men behind Dog Haus. Since the first restaurant opened, Vener and Riaz's wives have had babies, and Giragossian has married.

"This place is filled with families and kids and babies and strollers," says Vener. "Every kid that comes in here gets a free Otter Pop."

Giragossian laughs as Vener's wife appears on the biergarten patio with Vener's tiny new daughter. "We need to get Dog Haus onesies."

jessica.gelt@latimes.com

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