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Pink’s Hot Dogs at the Knott’s MarketPlace is a real wiener

Jim Hill

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Pink’s Hot Dogs at the Knott’s MarketPlace is a real wiener

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Pink’s is a LA institution. For 70 years now, Los Angelenos have been making the trip to the corner of Melrose and La Brea. Sometimes standing in hour-&-a-half-long lines, just so they can then sample some of the 21 types of hot dogs that are loving prepared at this acclaimed eatery.

Some tourists just don’t consider their trip to Southern California to be complete unless they can then somehow squeeze in a run to Pink’s. Why For? Well, many locals will tell you that you are far more likely to see a celebrity here than up on Hollywood Boulevard. (Me myself, during my very first trip to this famed hot dog stand, I actually wound up in line right behind “Different Strokes” star Todd Bridges. Which was admittedly kind of cool).

Pinks restaurant in Hollywood

Of course, there are those who pooh-pooh the whole Pink’s experience. Who insist that – given how difficult it is sometimes to find parking in & around Melrose and La Brea – it just doesn’t make any sense to make a special trip into Tinsel Town for hot dogs.

And I have to admit that – during some of my more recent trip to the Disneyland Resort – as much as I may have been jonesing for a Pink’s chili dog … It just didn’t make any sense to climb in a car and then drive the 30+ miles into Hollywood so that I could then wait in line and … You get the idea, right?

But all of that changed back in February, when Knott’s Berry Farm opened up its very own Pink’s Hot Dog stand.

Pinks clock in Knotts Berry Farm in California
Photo by Jim Hill

Mind you, it took a couple of tries to get things just right. Knott’s actually opened this Pink’s back in October of last year just in time for Halloween Haunt. And because this replacement for Viva La Coasters proved to be so popular with Knott’s Scary Farm visitors (they especially enjoyed the “Haunt” Dog, which was a jalapeño dog slathered with chili, bacon, relish, onions, tomatoes and sour cream), the Park decided to expand its outdoor seating area.

When Pink’s 2.0 opened in December (i.e. just in time for Knott’s Merry Farm) … Well, that’s when Park personnel decided that – in order to recreate that sort of Hollywood feel that people always got when they visited the original hot dog stand on Melrose & La Brea – they needed to up the entertainment aspect of this Knott’s MarketPlace restaurant.

Which is why – after this Buena Park institution finished up its annual holiday celebration – Knott’s construction teams took one last run at plussing this hot dog stand. Actually changing the location of the grill so that guests could then watch their food being prepared. Thereby giving kind of a show kitchen feel to Pink’s at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Kyle Massey of Disney's "Cory in the House", Snoopy and Chris Massey at the grand opening of the new Pink's at Knotts MarketPlace
(L to R) Kyle Massey of Disney's "Cory in the House," Snoopy and Chris Massey
were on hand for the grand openingof the new Pink's at Knott's MarketPlace.
Photo courtesy of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. All Rights Reserved

The February 25th grand opening of Pink’s 3.0 was a star-studded affair. With all sort of Disney-related celebrities (among them Debby Ryan from “Suite Life on Deck,” Gregg Sulkin from “Wizards of Waverly Place,” Anna Maria Perez de Tagle from “Camp Rock” and Joshua Logan Moore from “Desperate Housewives”) on hand for that day’s “Hot Dogs for Haiti” fundraising event. Where all the money that was raised from the sales of Pink’s famed chili dogs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. would then be donated to the American Red Cross to assist relief efforts in Haiti.

By the time I finally got around to visiting the new Pink’s at Knott’s MarketPlace, this hot dog stand had already officially been open for three weeks. But I took it as a good sign that – as we arrived in Buena Park – the sky directly behind Pink’s was … Well, pink.

Pink's restaurant with a beautiful California sunset in the background
Photo by Jim Hill

Inside … Well, some of the names that longtime Pink’s fans associate with the Melrose and La Brea location may have changed. But the quality was still the same. Though that’s probably because Knott’s Executive Chef Bobby Obezo and his staff actually went to Los Angeles to the original location to learn how to make all 21 different styles of Pink’s hot dogs.  And preserve authenticity, the Knott’s MarketPlace location uses the exact same ingredients – the same buns, the same chili, right down to the wieners themselves – that are served daily at the Hollywood original.

Given that I was making my very first visit to this new Knott’s Berry Farm restaurant … Well, it only seemed fair that I try the Knott’s Dog. Which was a 9 inch stretch dog with relish, onions, bacon, tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream.

Pink's burgers and hotdogs
Photo by Jim Hill

“And how was it?,” you ask. Um … Well, it’s not something that I’d recommend eating right before you go on GhostRider. But it was still pretty tasty.

My dining companion, Noe Valladolid … Well, he says that the real secret of Pink’s menu is they make 12 wickedly good burgers. And for his first visit to this new Knott’s MarketPlace eatery, Noe had the Double Mushroom Cheeseburger.

My daughter Alice (because she loves her father. More importantly, because she’s an incredibly good sport) had the classic Knott’s Chili Dog. Which (now that I think of it) may have been a mistake, given that I’d already ordered some Chili Fries as an appetizer for the table. And my ex, Shelly … She ordered the Hollywood Walk of Fame Dog (which is a 9 inch stretch dog topped with coleslaw and tomatoes).

Knotts Berry Farm has a specialty pie
Copyright Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
All Rights Reserved

Everyone enjoyed their dinner. Though – to be honest – the biggest hit of that evening was the coupon printed on the bottom of our Pink’s-at-Knott’s receipt. Which then allowed Shelly & Noe to get $5 off of a freshly-baked boysenberry pie from the Knott’s Berry Farm Bakery.

So how did the Knott’s Pink compare to the original hot dog stand on Melrose & La Brea? I have to admit that it was nice for once to be able to use a credit card for my purchases, rather than deal with the “Cash Only” policy of the Hollywood location. And then there was the fact that parking at the Pink’s in Buena Park was a complete breeze and there were no long lines to deal with (Though – that said – I should admit that we visited the Pink’s at Knott’s MarketPlace after 7 p.m. on a Monday night in mid-March. Which was a couple of hours after this theme park had actually closed for the day. So your mileage may vary if you visit Pink’s on a day when Knott’s Berry Farm is incredibly busy).

The Pink's extensive menu board
Photo by Jim Hill

So (forgive the horrible pun here) but I’d have to say that Pink’s at Knott’s MarketPlace is a real wiener. And if you’re in the mood for something other than chicken the next time you visit America’s first theme park (which – I know – borders on blasphemy for some JHM readers), you should definitely give this place a try.

At the very least, by not having to drive into Hollywood anymore to get Pink’s Hot Dogs, you’ll save on gas. Though taking Pink’s famous Chili Dog into account … In this particular situation, does it really make sense to try & save on gas?

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  • FYI - the original Pink's is NOT in Hollywood, but in the mid-Wilshire/Melrose area of Los Angeles.

  • Pink's is ridiculously overrated.  They've got moderately good hot dogs.  I actually find Wienerschnitzel to be more tasty!

  • Pink's has been taking its act on the road more lately by franchising. The last couple of years, they (or a franchisee) have had a stand at the Ventura County (CA) Fair, so I'm not 100% surprised to see them at KBF.  I''ll have to give it a shot next time I'm over there (I wasn't impressed by the chicken at their takeout window).

    Speaking of food, Jim, I still owe you a meal from D23 Expo! Please let me know if you're free next time you're in town, OK?

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