Monday, July 26, 2010

Hot Doug's

Living in Chicago, I've been lucky to explore the cutting-edge culinary scene focused on creating sophisticated dishes from simple, locally farmed ingredients. However this haute scene coexists with another type of food obsession: deep-dish pizza, Vienna beef hot dogs with an assortment of toppings and neon green relish, and Italian beef sandwiches.

As mentioned in a previous post, I realized that I needed to round out my food experiences in Chicago with some of the iconic hometown specialties. I finally made a trip to Hot Doug's, arguably the best hot dog joint in Chicago.

On a whim, we decided to make the trek out to Avondale on a Saturday afternoon. We waited in line for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Thankfully I really like the person I was with so the wait brushed by.

Dangerously close to the 4pm closing time, we managed to get inside the door. The decor says it all: black and white checkered floor and bright yellow walls adorned with kitschy hot dog tributes. Oh, and you must check out the bathroom.

We giggled as we read the extensive, entertaining menu of "encased meat" featuring the classic Chicago hot dog and gourmet dogs with creamy sun-dried tomato mustard, spicy tapenade and tallegio cheese or sweet chili-garlic mustard and cheese-stuffed marinated hot peppers

At 4pm, a staff member walks past us to the door, saying "Watch, this is my favorite trick to play on people." He turns the lock on the door and you see jaws dropping. Laughing, he unlocks the door, and tells them how priceless their expressions were. Actually everyone who was in line was served, even though it was close to 4:40pm by the time the last person was served.

Doug Sohn, the owner, took our orders with a smile and was super friendly. We ordered the Pete Shelley (meatless... and delicious) and The Elvis (smoked and savory- just like the King) with everything.

Everything means mustard, chopped onions, florescent green relish, pickle spears, sport peppers, tomato slices, and a dash of celery salt. What a particular combination! And notice the obvious absence of ketchup.

On Friday and Saturday, you can order duck-fat fries. We opted for a small cheese fries, which was plenty for 2.

We picked up our sodas, found a seat, and waited for about 5 minutes for our food to arrive.

It was seriously the best veggie dog I have ever had. And I had my fair share of veggie dogs in college. The cheese fries were devastatingly delicious and failed to get soggy. You could actually taste the potato in the crispy fries.

Now I feel like a true Chicagoan, just in time for me to move...


  1. I am a vegetarian but I still have such strong cravings for hot dogs. Your meatless dog looks so so good that I almost want to book a flight to Chicago for tomorrow!

  2. Those cheese fries failed to get soggy, huh? I love how when things "fail" in your universe it is typically a good thing :) xxoo


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