On our recent trip to Chicago, we set out to find the best joints for the city’s most popular comfort foods: hot dogs (Chicago makes the best) and real deep dish pizza (Chicago makes the only). Pequod’s deep dish pizza was outstanding, but Hot Doug’s was the highlight.
Chicagoans know hot dogs. And man, Hot Doug’s is the real deal. Here, a well-oiled machine of a team serves you a wide variety of doggers ranging from the more ‘traditional’ to upscale and fancy. Just check out the menu for yourself. The act of getting to Doug’s counter and conquering the long line-up is an adventure on its own. It’s a 45 minute commute outside of the downtown core – or The Loop as Chicagoans refer to it – and the wait itself can be another hour. But everyone there is happy to oblige. After all, these dogs are legendary.
Doug Sohn, the founder and owner, greeted us with some welcoming chit-chat, despite having served hundreds of patrons before us. Our choices had been carefully selected and I personally had rarely been this excited to order food.
Dog #1: Pork taco sausage with green chilli mayonnaise and queso asadero. This was like biting into a taco in disguise. The taco spice and cheese had been mixed into the pork sausage and the sauce had just the right kick.
Dog #2: Ribeye steak sausage with horseradish sauce, fried onions and aged cheddar. I had never even thought of a steak sausage, let alone ribeye steak (my favourite cut). The ingredients here worked perfectly together: the tenderness of the encased meat, crunchiness of the onions and intensity of the aged cheddar.
Dog #3 (the pièce de résistance): Foie gras and sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel. As decadent as it may sound (and believe me, it was), this dog was extremely well thought out. The truffle aioli added unbelievable flavour while the fleur de sel contrasted perfectly with the richness of the foie gras, both in flavour and texture.
We rounded everything off with an order of duck fat french fries. That’s right – they’re fried in duck fat! Although they were good, I think both Jess and I were expecting greasier fries with a deeper flavour. Chicago just might have a thing or two to learn from our beloved Lafleurs.
Now, if only someone could bring the fancy dogger concept to Montreal… (nudge, nudge, Mr. Jeffcott).