When you think of North Jersey, chances are there are a variety of spots that come to mind that truly make it unique and special. For many, those spots include food and a side of nostalgia — and with good reason. Northern New Jersey is home to many famous culinary destinations big and small, from all frills and delicious eats to tailgate-style fried everything. One such destination on the fried end that is worth the trek is Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, New Jersey.
Home of ‘The Ripper,’ a deep-fried hot dog that is fried in such a way that causes the hot dog casing to crack and split (hence the name), it’s also known for its legendary relish and other comfort foods — all to be eaten either inside or by the trunk or hood of your car on the side of Route 3 in Clifton. Having originally opened as a roadside stand in 1928, Rutt’s Hut continues to be a local Essex County gem that is known to all and coveted by many. Read on for more about Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ.
How It Began
The original roadside stand was opened in 1928 by Royal “Abe” Rutt and his wife, Anna. They sold the restaurant to its current owners, George Petropoulakis, Louis Chrisafinis, Nicholas Karagiorgis, and George Sakellaris in 1974. Today the building is split into three separate sections: a restaurant, a bar, and a takeout counter, but for those worried that it’s been updated and has lost its old-school charm — fret not — Rutt’s still has its OG signs and charm.
The relish is just as famous as the hot dogs — made with a secret blend of mustard and spices, and of course, there’s The Ripper’ hot dog. But if you think that that’s all Rutt’s has to offer, prepare to come hungry; beyond its selection of hot dogs, there are burgers, wraps, chili, sides like onion rings and fries, and lots more. Comfort/fast food to the max.
The Tailgate Experience
Let’s be real: there is no ‘official’ tailgate experience at Rutt’s, but essentially, going to Rutt’s is an experience, and you’ll often find customers enjoying their meals in their car or tailgating in the parking lot with their food at their trunk. 10/10 would recommend, and it’s perfect for an ‘outdoor’ family outing or date in the nicer months.
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As LaVar Burton would say, “You don’t have to take my word for it” (shoutout to those who caught the ref 📖 🦋) — but truly, Rutt’s Hut is a legendary spot. It has been featured on the PBS special A Hot Dog Program, USA Today, numerous Food Network shows, and the Travel Channel’s Deep-Fried Paradise. It is also listed in the book 1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die.
So, yeah, take our word for it. And order the Ripper!