Hot Diggity: Lunch at Hot Doug’s

Hot Doug's logoSo, apparently, I haven’t written about Hot Doug’s yet. This is pretty incredible as its Paul’s favorite restaurant. Please note: I didn’t say Paul’s favorite hot dog restaurant or Paul’s favorite inexpensive restaurant. This is it. Paul’s fav. Mr. Moo has actually been four times in his young life. Granted, the first two times he could not yet eat solid food, but that’s the kind of parents we are… we bring our three week old to a hot dog joint.

If you’re in Chicago and you’ve never been to or heard of Hot Doug’s you’ve been living under a very large rock. If you’re not in Chicago, you’re forgiven (but barely). Hot Doug’s is purveyor of fine, fine hot dogs. A few things to keep in mind when you go (and you will go):

  • Check the web site first as Doug will close up shop for random holidays and vacations. He might not be open when you want to eat a hot dog.
  • The line is long. Wait in it, but don’t be a douche. As in, don’t drop your friend off at the corner to wait in line while you find parking and then jump in line. I mention this because it’s an issue for Paul and I’d rather not listen to him gripe about queue jumpers while we eat.
  • Don’t stress out about the line vs the number of tables. I’ve never had to stand around and wait for a table once I got to the front of the line. They have a rule… no saving tables until after you’ve ordered. It’s just fair.
  • Do try the daily specials, including the game of the week and the celebrity sausage.
  • Cash only! Bring plenty of it. Some of these hot dogs run up to $10. (Yes, because they have awesome ingredients and really rock, you will want to pay that much.)
  • The owner Doug is the dude taking your order. Smile and be friendly.
  • Give a tip. That’s not a rule, it’s just nice.

What We Ate

Emily had the spinach and feta-stuffed loukaniko (a Greek-style pork sausage) with artichoke raita (a yogurt-based dip that usually has cucumber and mint), Kalamata olives, and feta cheese. You know that this must be good if my sister is willing to order and eat a pork sausage. She also ordered the Joe Strummer which, in addition to being the guitarist from the Clash, is also a vegetarian hot dog.

I always order a Dog (grilled) which is a Chicago-style hot dog with all the toppings—white onions, yellow mustard, green relish, tomato, pickle spear, and celery salt. Because I’m a sucker for a pickle on a bun. Then, I always get one of the specials of the day. This time I ordered the duck sausage topped with foie gras and Sauternes (a sweet wine) there’s also truffle aioli, foie gras mousse, and fleur de sel. Now, you’re telling me that you wouldn’t spend $10 on that hot dog? I beat you would. Because it’s just gosh darned good.

Emily and I both ordered fries. On Fridays and Saturdays, they have duck fat fries which are actually better than regularly fried fries. You can rant and rave that there’s no difference in the type of fat you fry something in… and you’d be wrong. Duck fat makes things crispy and good.

Paul ordered the veal saltimbocca sausage with sage mustard, hickory smoked sweet Swiss cheese, and fried prosciutto. He had cheese fries that he had to eat with a fork. When he later said that he ate his weight in salt, he wasn’t joking.

Mr. Moo ordered the Charlie and James Sohn which is a basket of mini bagel dogs and tater tots. I cut up the dogs and the Moo ended up eating the bagel bits around it. He also ate a ton of my fries. Here he is showing off where all of those potato products went:

Mr. Moo shows off his belly

And, yes, he also had applesauce that I brought with me. So, it wasn’t a complete nutrition wasteland.

What We Drank

You should order small sodas because there are free refills. (In fact, when you try to order a large, Doug will ask if you’re sure since there are free refills.) Paul had regular brown soda and I had root beer soda. They also sell sodas in bottles and cans of which Emily availed herself. The Moo drank water because he’s not allowed to know the joy of soda quite yet.

Location: 3324 N. California Ave. (California and Roscoe). Street parking is free and usually within a few blocks. Keep in mind Hot Doug’s is only open 10:30 to 4, Monday through Saturday.

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