Second Helpings – The Dover Grill and Lil Burgers

Milky and I went back to The Dover Grill last weekend, and if anything they’ve improved. They have more hotdog combos, more sides, and more entrees. They seem to be doing very well- we had to sit outside! This time I had a Reuben dog- sauerkraut, swiss, thousand island dressing- and it was excellent. The American with chili- bacon, coleslaw and jalapenos- is still my favorite, the Jersey version of Crif Dog’s Spicy Redneck.

They also have fried mac’ ‘n cheese triangles, which are very tasty. Johnny had a Volcano- like the American without cole slaw- and fries with homemade tangy onions, his mainstay. The Dover Grill is worth a second trip, though sadly it is out of the way if you don’t live near Route 46. The onramp for I-80 just west of the grill is closed, so it makes for at least a 10 mile detour if you’re traveling on the interstate.

They also make little burgers, cheese steaks, and regular burgers- none of which I’ve tried. The hotdogs are too good! Besides, I have Lil Burgers for sliders. While I’ll always love Rutt’s and Hiram’s, the Dover Grill remains my favorite Jersey hot dog place.
Speaking of Lil Burgers, we’ve been there several times since my original review. Their burgers are still excellent. They now offer bacon, after my urging. A bacon cheese Lil Burger with ketchup and pickle is pretty awesome. They also have Lil Chicks, tasty chicken tender sandwiches on their famous potato rolls with honey mustard; the Wrangler, which is a Lil Burger with an onion ring anf BBQ sauce; at 50 cents extra I’ll take bacon instead. They have a “Burger Sub” of three patties on a hoagie roll, but it’s not the same. The potato roll is king. The owner mentioned a full size potato roll perhaps in the future, and I look forward to it.

They also have Lil Fishie fried fish sandwiches, hot soup and Slush Puppies available now, but we haven’t tried either of them yet. The lil Chicks are very good, and they make great broccoli cheese bites. We’ll probably try the Slush Puppies this weekend and maybe I’ll get a fish sandwich, but the Lil Burgers are hard to resist. And they still make great sweet potato fries.

We’ve also been to Dinosaur BBQ a third time and I had an excellent brisket sandwich with their house-cured bacon & swiss. It was fantastic- very tender and tasty. Dinosaur BBQ continues to amaze. They need a sandwich with their Elgin sausage. They also make Churrasco chicken sandwiches we need to try, and their barbecue chicken. Chicken always gets overlooked at ‘cue joints. And we still haven’t had room for dessert at this place!

I love trying new places, so when I go someplace for a second or third time, they’re getting the seal of approval. And these places are definitely among my favorite junk food joints.

Greasy Spoons: Lil Burgers of Nutley

Little Burgers are an East Coast institution. Out west they have Fatburger, In-N-Out, Bob’s Big Boy; here we have White Castle, and a few other tiny burger “systems” that popped up around the same time in the 50’s. We had a Blue Castle in Passaic, and the all but forgotten char-broil pits along the Route 3-Route 46 corridor, such as the Red Chimney, the Three Acre Grill, the Anthony Wayne; and we still have a White Rose System in Highland Park, the competing White Mana and and White Manna burgers of Jersey City and Hackensack, and the White Diamond down in Linden.

6 lil burgers and sweet tater fries.

Lil Burgers is in that class- tiny little burgers, but with a meaty grilled beef patty unlike White Castle’s infamous mystery slider. On the main drag of Nutley, my hometown from whence Martha Stewart sprang like a decorating demon in a cloud of brimstone and potpourri, it’s a little gem of a burger joint that is worth braving the Guido and skater punk crowd of Franklin Avenue to get to.

Tucked between a guido bar and a TCBY

The owner, Tony, told me they use fresh meat every day- and you can taste it. They taste like home grilled, and are served on Hawaiian sweet rolls, with cheese, pickle and ketchup if you desire. It gives them a homemade taste, and while it takes longer than a fast-food place, it is definitely worth the wait.

The owner takes an order.

The crew is friendly and fast, and the place is cafeteria style but still cozy. The walls are decorated with aerial photos of the area, from well-known landmarks like Giants Stadium, to forgotten icons of the local past like the legendary ITT Tower, torn down in the late 90’s.

The crew, and an order up.

The menu also includes sweet potato fries, shrimp, hot dogs, chicken, and cheese steak sandwiches. The fries were good- especially the sweet ones. I was expecting more toppings, or a “slider” type restaurant with a lot of trendy little expensive sandwiches, but this is the real deal- little burgers grilled to perfection, on the simplicity of the sweet soft gummy rolls. No mango-pepper aioli or peppadew chutneys here. Part of me wanted to see a pork roll burger but they’re smaller than a cooked slice of Taylor ham, just barely. And they’re tasty enough on their own.

The menu- 99 cents still buys you something good.

So, brave the wilds of Nutley. Watch out for popped collars and pointy hair, and BMW M3’s and Mustang GT’s as they cruise the ave. Your best bet is to park in the municipal lot behind the Nutley Diner, and walk through the alley. When we were there it was a shady haven for skaters in the hot sun. On the way home you should pick up some fresh pasta at Garruto’s, or home-made mozzarella. There’s an Applegate Farms ice cream shop around the corner, where the Baskin-Robbins used to be, if you saved room for dessert. Just mind your P’s and Q’s, the police don’t take kindly to you out-of-towners.