It is a prominent feature on the landing approach to the airport from the east. Along with Madison Square Garden, it was one of the most well-known indoor sports venues in the U.S., during its time operating as a major venue. The Forum achieved its greatest fame as the home of the NBA‘s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL‘s Los Angeles Kings, from 1967 to 1999, when the teams moved to the new Staples Center. The building was also the home of the WNBA‘s Los Angeles Sparks, from 1997, until they also moved to the Staples Center in 2001.
In 2002 Manzarek and Krieger started playing together again, branding themselves as the Doors of the 21st Century, with Ian Astbury of the Cult on vocals. Densmore opted to sit out and, along with the Morrison estate, sued the duo over proper use of the band name and won. After a short time as Riders On the Storm, they settled on the name Manzarek-Krieger and continued to tour until Manzarek’s death in 2013.
My reenactment of Sheldon Cooper’s Train Day from The Big Bang Theory
There I was watching The Big Bang Theory (Series 4 Episode 6) when Howard asks Raj if he has any special plans with his sister, Priya, while she is town for one day.
To which Sheldon answers: I always tell people, if you have only one day in Los Angeles, make it a train day. The fun starts with brunch at Carney’s in Studio City, a hot dog stand in a converted railroad dining car. Next stop, Travel Town, an outdoor museum featuring 43 railroad engines, cars and other rolling stock from the 1880s to the 1930s. Finally, we’re off to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood for dinner at, that’s right, the Hollywood Carney’s, a hot dog stand in a different converted railroad dining car.
Here’s the clip, sorry, I could only find it with sub titles
I picked a sleepy day between Christmas and New Years which I knew would allow us to drive all over Los Angeles without too much of a headache.
My husband came along with me and we mapped out our attack on the menu. We would start with a Carney’s Dog topped with chili, mustard, tomato, and onions as well as a New Yorker featuring sauerkraut and mustard at the first location. Then at the Hollywood Carney’s we’d try a classic cheese burger with chili cheese fries.
Per the itinerary, our day started at the Carney’s in Studio City and took a surprising, but lovely, turn. As we entered the dining car and I started to take photos, a man in a Carney’s shirt began chatting with me. He asked if this was my first time at Carney’s and if I ever watched The Big Bang Theory, to which I enthusiastically replied “Yes and yes! I’m doing Sheldon Cooper’s Train Day and I’m going to blog about it!” Turns out the man was Bill Wolfe, son of the original founder, John Wolfe, who, along with his brother, owns Carney’s today. We sat and talked for a bit and I learned all about the trains, and the two locations and, perhaps most importantly, the food!
Bill Wolfe, son of original founder John Wolfe, co owns Carney’s with his brother
John Wolfe’s background was in broadcasting and he lead the first ever Rock n’ Roll station in Los Angeles, KSWB, which is a news station today. But he wanted to do something different and could cook a mean hamburger and hot dog so he and wife decided to open a stand. He wanted to use a train car, instead of a traditional storefront, for a couple of reasons. First, in case he lost his lease on the Sunset Strip he could always pick and leave, and second, he thought it would be just plain fun and a great way to attract customers.
In 1975 came the first train. It was a Union Pacific Heavyweight Challenger that was built in the 1920’s and remodeled in the 40’s. Initially half of the car was a kitchen and the other half was a dining area, which only allowed for about 5 tables. So three years later they added a half car in the back to house the kitchen. The second car was Louisville National Daylight car built in the 1950’s. They purchased it at an auction from Amtrak. Getting the cars to their locations was quite an endeavor. Bill recalled that his dad paid the truck driver $300 to deliver the car at 7:00 am so as not to disturb traffic. Unfortunately, the street remained shut down for about 3 hours!
Here’s what that looked like!
I was also curious about where the name Carney’s came from. John originally wanted to call it Casey’s, after Casey Jones the famous train engineer. But the name was already taken so he combined “Casey’s” and “cars” to form “Carney’s.”
As we spoke, he showed me some mock ups he himself had created of billboards they were planning to put up as his sons worked the cash register and took out the trash. It was a true family restaurant and it was apparent that Bill was seriously enthusiastic about his business. I have never heard anyone talk about beef and hot dogs with such joy and passion.
Bill and his son working the cash register
One bit of trivia I found particularly interesting was that they had no idea they would be featured on The Big Bang Theory! Bill found out from Mayim Bialik (aka Amy Farrah Fowler) of all people. She happened to stop by the Studio City location and told him all about it. Today folks come in all the time and say that they heard about it on the Big Bang Theory.
However, I don’t think anyone has attempted, and documented, Train Day until now! So let’s continue.
After chatting with Bill, I sat down to eat our two dogs. And yes, they are really are delicious! The chili was a soft consistency, not too chunky, which I prefer. And the accompanying tomato, cheese, mustard, and onions complemented the chili perfectly. A bit messy to eat but if that bothers you, perhaps you shouldn’t be eating chili dogs.
Classic Carney’s Dog and The New Yorker
The New Yorker was tasty too. A bit less filling and easier to eat. The blend of sauerkraut and mustard was perfect on the dog. Between these two dogs, the New Yorker was my favorite and the Carney’s was my husband’s fav.
It is located just down the freeway from Studio City near the Los Angeles Zoo and admission has been free since it opened in 1947. The museum is located outside and features dozens of different kinds of locomotives, freight cars, cabooses, passenger cars, and more. Some are roped off but many are accessible so kids (and adults!) can climb all over all them and play with knobs and levers.
The grounds were scattered with groups having birthday parties and barbeques and, of course, a tiny train took passengers for a joyful ride along the perimeter. For $2.75 you got to ride around not once, but twice. And if you are lucky enough to sit near the front, the conductor comes around with the microphone and lets you yell “All aboard!”
(In the interest of full disclosure, we made one additional stop before heading to the Hollywood Carney’s. Right around the corner from Travel Town is Golden Road Brewery. A young brewery specializing in IPAs, owned by the youngest female brewer in the world, and won’t distribute anywhere further then a tank of gas can drive. But more on them another time!)
Last Stop: Carney’s in Hollywood, CA!
After a quick tasting at Golden Road we pressed on and drove deep into the heart of Hollywood. For the first time that day, we hit some major traffic in front of the Hollywood Bowl, but it let up and soon we arrived at the original Carney’s location in Hollywood.
Carney’s first location on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood
Per our plan, we ordered a cheese burger and chili cheese fries. The chili was just as good here and super easy to eat over a pile of crispy fries. The burger really, truly was delicious. It was nothing extravagant and didn’t feature truffle oil or grilled onions. It was basic, simple, and delicious. It’s easy to fancy up a burger with intense flavors but it’s far more difficult to make a good burger with basic ingredients. And I think the key is using fresh, delicious ingredients, which Bill made very clear to me that they only use the best ingredients around.
Cheese burger and chili cheese fries
I got back in the car with two Carney’s sodas in my cup holders, a full tummy, and memories of one of the most fun days I’ve spent in LA! So next time you’re in LA, make it a Train Day! Unless you hate fun.
Carney’s Unlimited Express
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Approximately 6:00 P.M.
As the sign above states “Beware of Trains” when you enter Carney’s Express Limited in Studio City. You will first notice the wonderful aroma in the air. I have definitely prewarned you if you DARE to read this post further, as you too will be tempted to travel far and near distances to this haven of the BEST hot dog in the WORLD. Just look at the scrumptious menu and then you’ll know why I don’t need any excuse to want to come here twice a year.
The hot dog was purportedly invented in 1874 by German immigrant, Charles Feltman, at Coney Island, NY. Well, listen to this girl, I’ve had the so-call best hot dogs in New York – Nathan’s at Coney Island and Papaya King in Manhattan. I’ve even tasted the Dodger dogs MANY years ago which are supposedly one of the best ballpark dogs. HANDS down, Carney’s has the BEST hotdog in the WORLD. As somewhat of a connoisseur on EATING, I love the way the Carney dog extends outside of it’s bun and actually, really SNAPS when you eat it. The chili is DELICIOUS and I am not one for fru-fru toppings on my hotdogs either. No need to get too fancy on me. The recipe is top secret but I’m betting it’s the special casing they use to hold together all that snappy scrumptious goodness. All I can say is that I give Carney’s a TRIPLE YUM YUM YUM!
Can you see Nick excitedly ordering our Chili dogs and fries for dinner?
There are actually two trains in parallel. One train is the kitchen and the other train is the customer sitting area. There are also additional outside patio sitting too. Just look at all the yummy-ness going on with happy, smiling patrons. (Yes, they are smiling even though you are only seeing their backs!!)
Our standard order, THREEchili cheese dogs to share amongst the two of us with one order of chili fries. (Nick is already eating his dog and fries, while I snapped and posed this photo!) Just look at those HUGE tomato slices. I have to eat everything with a fork and knife it is so darn sloppy. And yes, this meal is a heart attack waiting to happen but considering I only eat like this twice a year, I think I’m allowed. So this is the REAL reason why we love exhibiting at the Los Angeles Bead Society Bazaar.Uhmmmm… I mean… no we are really at the show to support the bead society and talk to our wonderful customers. Forget I showed you all these photos and told you about my well hidden secret.Eeeek, now the world knows my weakness! And, you didn’t hear about Carney’s from ME. You heard all this from Jerry Connell!!
So I guess I won’t see you at Carney’s next time, huh?