At one time, architectural kitsch was the rage in L.A., and there were dozens of eccentric restaurants scattered around the Hollywood area. You could, for instance, eat in a restaurant shaped like a hat: the Brown Derby. Other restaurants resembled teepees and even a bull dog. (You can see models of many of these buildings at the Petersen Automotive Museum, on Wilshire Blvd.)
Alas, the Brown Derby and most of L.A.'s other unusually-styled buildings were torn down long ago. But there is one notable survivor from those days of architectural excess: the Tail O' the Pup.
Built in 1945, it is a hot dog stand shaped like (what else?) a giant hot dog, in a giant hot dog bun - with mustard, of course. Over the years, this humble counter has served the public over five million hot dogs - everything from the Mexican Ole, (with chili, cheese & onions) to the Boston Celtic (with baked beans).
There were serious howls of protests from Los Angelenos when the stand was threatened with destruction in 1985. When it re-opened in 1986 (a few yards away from its original location), the odd little hot dog stand had a grand reopening worthy of any Hollywood premiere, complete with star emcees such as Jay Leno and Robert Wagner.
Billy Crystal is also a fan, as is Richard Dreyfus, Lily Tomlin, Whoopi Goldberg, Magic Johnson, Robert Culp and Jenny McCarthy.
Tail O' the Pup has even appeared in a few movies. It's seen during the opening credits of the 1984 Brian De Palma thriller, "Body Double." And it was seen twice in the 1991 Steve Martin comedy "L.A. Story" : first being towed across the sky by a helicopter (during the movie's opening credits), and then in its actual, down-to-earth location, during the scene where Roland tries to win back his ex-wife, Sarah (while they dine outside the hot dog stand).
It was also seen in the George Benson video "Give Me the Night."
And if you take a look at the Buck Owens' album, "Hot Dog," you'll recognize our old friend.
Most recently, Pamela Anderson Lee filmed the pilot for her new action show, "V.I.P." at Tail O' the Pup. In VIP episode #1, titled "It Beats Working At A Hot Dog Stand," Pamela's character is working at Tail O' the Pup when she is asked out to a movie premiere by a handsome actor. When she saves him from a would-be assassin, she finds herself sucked into the exciting life of a bodyguard.
As you might guess, Tail O' the Pup also dishes out some very good chili dogs (although, for my money, not quite as good as those at Pink's). There are a few tables out front, with umbrellas, on a tiny patio where you can sit down to eat your hot dogs in the sunshine. Hot dogs sell for around $2. Open daily: 6 AM - 6 PM (except Sundays, when they open at 8 AM).
Getting there: Tail of the Pup is located within walking distance of the Beverly Center Mall and the Hard Rock Cafe , just north of the corner of Beverly Boulevard and San Vicente Boulevard, in Los Angeles (on the border with West Hollywood).
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