Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hot Doug's

Location: 3324 N California
Cost: About $10 per person

As someone who has eaten at almost 300 restaurants in Chicago in less than 3 years, there are certain places that people are amazed to find out I haven't gotten around to. One of those places used to be Hot Doug's. A few weeks ago Jeremy took the day off from work and we drove over to the most popular place in the city to find encased meats.

Hot Doug's is a medium sized hot dog stand. They're only open from 10:30AM to 4PM. Because of the high demand and the short hours, the lines can get pretty out of hand. We got there around 11AM, hoping to dodge the crowd, but as we were brutally reminded, the teachers were on strike. Thankfully they left all of their signs at home because there might not have been enough room otherwise. So you wait in line, and soon after you order, it works out nicely that a table opens up.

The staff is very friendly, starting with Doug at the counter. He seemingly doesn't pay attention to the gigantic line as he schmoozes each customer while they order. Mostly though, he does a nice job of pacing the line to accommodate open seats while putting a really personal touch on the place. The cost is pretty reasonable. A regular dog is $2, most specialty sausages are around $8, and fries are $1.50.

The Food
We went for an early lunch, which meant that we skipped out on breakfast. By the time we got to order we were really hungry. Jeremy got the Cayenne and Cheddar Pork Sausage with Chipotle Dijonnaise and Habanero-Jack Cheese. If you like spice then this is how you should go. I got the Game of the Week which was boar sausage with sundried tomato mustard, crispy onions and brie cheese. It all went so well together. The creamy brie complimented the bite of the boar sausage while the crispy onions added even more textural complexity.

 The Boar Sausage

 The Cayenne and Cheddar Pork Sausage

On top of that, we both ordered a Chicago style dog and some cheese fries. I wanted to see how they did with normal dog, and it was a little better than average. Clearly you should use whatever room you have in your stomach for the specialty meats. I was a little bummed that we didn't go when they had the Duck Fat fries, but these were still pretty good. The cheese is that ballpark junk, but otherwise they were spot on.

The Chicago Style Hot Dog

 The Cheese Fries

Hot Doug's is the premier place to get a specialty sausage in town. You'll probably face a serious line, but it's easily worth the wait. More than that, Doug's has become a thing to do and a right of passage for those that love hot dogs and sausage. I can't wait to get back and try some other funky creations. I'm giving them the Pearl Necklace. 5 out of 5.

Hot Doug's on Urbanspoon


  1. How could you desecrate Hot Doug's amazing fries with cheese sauce? The plain ones are so wonderful and, in my humble opinion, better than the duck fat-fried version. Also, the tater tots are way better than they have any right to be.