So, this weekend my new beau and I waited in the extremely long line that is the no questions asked norm at Hot Doug’s, one of Chicago’s premire encased meat specialists.

theres a line.. count on it
there's a line.. count on it

Now, we waited in line for at least 25 minutes, but for how long the line is there, it is always moving, and it’s generally regarded as “all part of the experience.”  And it wasn’t all that bad, honestly. There were these kids in front of us in line, and they seemed to be trying their damnedest to live as though they were doing a summer stock performance of “Superbad.” But I digress. Dougs features a few standard dogs, many of which are named after celebs.For example: The Keira Knightly (formerly the Britney Spears) which is just a spicy hot dog.  HA! get it? I think this is dumb, but I like dick, so the whole “spicy ladies” thing is just stupid to me.. but hey, with all the weiner in that place, I really have no room to complain. Anyway.. in addition to their basic dogs, which come with the works, and either steamed or grilled, they have their specials, which are nutz. Here is what was on special when we went:

Very Special Specials
Very Special Specials

I opted for “The Dog” from their standard menu, which is the classic Chicago hotdog.  The first time I was introduce to the idea of the “chicago style” hot dog I saw it represented like this:

chicagos hot dog
chicago's hot dog

and here is break down of what is illustrated here:

the real deal
the real deal

“Sausage is German in origin and so is mustard 1, but buns are American—Germans would eat it with bread, but not a bun,” Kraig explains. “Sport peppers 2 are basically giardiniera, as is relish 3, which is Italian, while dill pickles 4 are German. Tomatoes 5and onions 6 are Mediterranean, so that’s Greek and Italian, and these came from guys that turned their produce carts into hot-dog carts on Maxwell. Chicago was a major producer of celery until the ’20s, and celery salt 7 became a substitute. The poppy-seed bun, which is Jewish and was introduced locally by Rosen’s bakery, didn’t appear until after World War II.”

(PS: this is taken from this excellent article from the chicago reader… get into it.)

Again I digress, I figured where better to experience my first Chicago Style Dog than from Chicago’s very own Encased Meat Emporium? SO , I got that and the Smoked Crayfish and Pork Sausage, topped with remoulade and goat cheese. Shawn opted for the B.L.T. and the Blue Cheese pork sausage (however his exact words when ordering were “I’ll have the pork sausage” which landed him with the Cherry Pork Sausage topped with a black-cherry cream sauce and satori-raspberry cheese relish.) We also ordered a large order of fries to split. This cost us a whopping 30 plus dollars for four hot-dogs! Which is sort of fine considering the quality of hand cased sausages and carefully crafted bun borne dishes we were about to enjoy.

the meal
the meal

Here is the order. For starters, the Chi-town Classic style dog is Unbelievable, there is so much going on, but it is so well crafted, it’s no wonder it is a staple here. It also helps that every one of the ingredients on this is picture perfect, right down to the neon relish. It is clear that they make this constantly, because it is almost mechanically perfect. The Smoked crayfish and pork sausage was also unnecessarily delicious. I had to take some of the goat cheese of for fear of gagging on all of the flavor, but i am not complaining. I am simply explaining how i survived the onslaught of taste that was this dog. Shawn’s choices were also good, although he was mildly disappointed in them for various reasons.  One the reasons was that this was not exactly what he ordered, and therefor not what he was expecting to eat. The other that he found the B.L.T. to be simply underwhelming. I thought it was good, but unfortunately inferior to the crayfish and pork grandslam. The cherry dog was good, but it actually was so sweet it made me think what an amasing pastry it would make, rather than a bun based confection.

In closing allow me to say that in the race for the best encased meat,  Hot Doug’s is a real weiner!

PS.. Eat a Weiner!



  1. \I Live in Los Angeles (and work in food and tv), and I have got to tell you that Hot Doug’s is a “must stop” whenever I am within 150 miles of Chicago. Doug can be a pain in the ass, but it’s all part of the fun. It’s interesting to note the store’s hours (closed for dinner, closed on Sunday), and how even though it is frustrating as a customer, it means that Doug and his employees get some family time, which, I think, puts a little more love in the food.
    I have been to many of the hot dog “mecca’s” (Pink’s, Nathan’s, Superdawg), and Hot Doug’s lords over them all.
    Thanks for spreading the word!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s