Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Vienna Beef Factory

Some of you may know my friend Danny Weiss, but for those of you that don't you should know that not only is his far funnier than I on his blog, but he also knows far more about certain foods than I do. Specifically, I'd say that Danny has a specialty in hot dogs. For the longest time Danny has been trying to get me to go to his favorite place, Hot Doug's. So at noon last Saturday I got a call that simply said, "Pearl, Hot Doug's, It's On." I gathered my roommate Steve and his girlfriend Rachel, and we were out the door and on our way. Danny beat us there only to find that the line was insanely long (more than 90 minutes). We decided to change our destination to Franks and Dawgs right down the street for our apartment. When we got there we were met with more disappointment as they were closed to serve hot dogs at Lollapalooza. Luckily for us, Danny has a huge list of hot dog places to try out, and we were finally successful when we met up at the Vienna Beef Company.

The restaurant is really just a converted break room for the factory employees. There are lots of vending machines and cafeteria style tables, and even the food is served to you in a cafeteria style line. They've added some freezers and a deli counter so that people can get Vienna beef in far more styles than just a hot dog.

Based on the setup of the restaurant and its size, it'd be hard to imagine that you'd ever have a tough time finding a table. It was very impressive to see how fast they served up a hot dog and fries with their assembly line style. If coming into the cafeteria isn't your style, at 4PM every day they open up an exterior window.

The cost is pretty reasonable considering that a hot dog and fries comes to around $4. One issue is that they don't really have the capabilities in their kitchen to serve a char dog which may be the preference of many. For efficiency sake I think they've chosen to stick to the boiled dogs, but Danny, the hot dog connoisseur prefers char dogs.

The Food
We all ordered Chicago Style Hot Dogs (sport peppers, seasoning salt, tomatoes, relish, pickle, and mustard in case you didn't know) except for Rachel who got a Chili Cheese Dog. We also got two orders of French Fries for the table (one with cheese).

 The Chicago Style Hot Dog

The Chili Cheese Dog

The Cheese Fries

The hot dogs were about the same as any other Vienna Beef dog I've had in my life except these were a little better dressed. The extra Chicago dog toppings were nicely done. Rachel didn't seem too thrilled about the Chili (which could have been spicier) or the Cheese (which was just a slice of American). I think she would've preferred shredded cheddar or something like that. As far as a hot dog goes, I thought that there should've been more of a snap to the casing which might come from taking the dogs straight from the boil. The French Fries were hand cut but underdone. I think they like to be fresh and fast with their food and may have been in too much haste when making our fries. Still they served it with Merkts Cheese which is the best for cheese fries. Sometimes you get ballpark style nacho cheese which is a huge let down, but this was the good stuff.

It's hard to say that a Vienna Beef hot dog is much better than average considering that it's the average dog served throughout Chicago. Still, I'd like to think that it tastes a little better getting it straight from the source. I also liked how well dressed the dog was and how quickly they cranked it out. The fries were a little disappointing, but the cheese more than made up for it. I was torn about my rating on this one, but I'm going to give the Vienna Beef Factory 3 out of 5 Pearls.

If you notice, I'm currently linked up to Danny's blog "It was all an Unemployed Dream," but I have inside information that his blogging efforts will soon be focused on foods with a special emphasis on dogs, beef, wings, etc. I hope you're all as excited for that as I am.

Vienna Beef Factory Store & Deli on Urbanspoon


  1. To Mark Reitman and all my friends at the Vienna Beef Factory-

    My personal "pearl" rating is much higher.