Ivy League Dogs: Out West for Under $10

A common refrain of foodniks around the metro Phoenix area is "There's no good food in the West Valley." It seems like once diners get past downtown Glendale, they are stuck in chain restaurant purgatory. When paying a visit to the west side, it certainly does seem like your choices are limited to casual dining franchises as far as the eye can see. If you look closer, you'll find there are some real gems out west, and quite a few of them are very reasonably priced.

One such offering is all the way out in Goodyear: Ivy League Dogs. Owner Derek Pyle has been quietly serving up terrific hot dogs for close to two years. His weapon of choice is the deep fryer. All of the dogs on the menu are cooked in a bath of hot oil. The only things that don't go in the fryer are the Italian beef and the cheesesteak. Prices start at $3.99 for a jumbo ¼ pound Nathan's dog, easily fitting our $10 budget even with a side order and a drink. But there's one item that truly stands out.

The Juaninator is one of the most over-the-top hot dogs in the entire state, and at $6.49, it's a steal. It's a hybrid of three styles: the local favorite Sonoran, the Chicago dog, and a classic chili cheese dog. It starts out with the ¼ pound deep-fried Nathan's dog in a poppy seed bun, and then goes and tops it with most of the menu. It's topped with brown mustard, tomatoes, raw and deep-fried onions, sport peppers, pepperoncini, salsa verde, a dill pickle spear, cheese, bacon, french fries (yes, the fries go right on the dog), and chili. If it was any bigger, it would be a featured item on Man v. Food. It looks like they might even be hoping for a spot on the show, keeping track of the number of Juaninators ordered (closing in on 150 the last time we checked), and the number finished off in one sitting (almost 70). With so many toppings, it was a bit of a surprise that the Juaninator is not only insanely large, but also insanely delicious. There's all kinds of contrasting flavors and textures going on, from the sweet richness of the deeply caramelized deep-fried onions to the spicy-salty hit from the peppers (even if we wish they'd pop the stems off the pepperoncini before burying them under the chili). Pair it with a fountain drink to wash it down, and the total with tax comes to a respectable $8.88.

If you somehow still have room in your belly (and a couple bucks extra in your wallet), stick around for the deep-fried Oreos ($2.89 for three) for dessert. It, like the massive Juaninator, is pure guilty pleasure.

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