Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hot Doug's...A New Chicago Landmark

{The king of encased meats, Doug Sohn}
A trip to Chicago automatically means a detour to Hot Doug’s.  To let you know how serious we are about this place, we forwent a trip to either the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Lincoln Park Zoo, and cut our meandering on the Magnificent Mile short just to make sure we made it to this golden destination.

Don’t ask us why we only come here in the winter when it’s below freezing with a wicked wind blowing up our skirts or why we always arrive an hour to closing time.
Just trust us…it’s that good. 
The walls boast cheeky, kitschy hot dog deco, the Ramones blast in the background and Doug, chef and owner, takes your order up front, always, and to boot he’s a really nice dude.  It’s worth the wait outside, rain, sleet, snow, freezing, hailing, smoldering.  And there will be a wait…  Count on an hour’s worth at least, especially during lunchtime hours and weekends.

{A typical line on the weekend and about an hour's wait.}

When you get inside the first set of doors, you’re gold.  Getting there near closing hours is like playing Russian roulette, because it means someone's not going to make the cut.  Initially, you'll see people impatiently leaving the line, but once you get a certain distance to the doors, there's no turning back. 
It was soooo cold, we were questioning our sanity...  People were dancing and strangers started inching closer to each other in an effort to stay warm.  The people in front of us didn’t even have winter coats (Chicago natives- tough…but still) and our neighbors joked that we were recreating a scene right out of March of the Penguins, waddling ever so slowly around the corner. 

{Huzzah!  We can almost touch the door!}

Rewarded at last...

{Caribbean Goat Sausage with the fixin's!}

{Foie Gras Duck Sausage and Chicago Dog}

{Duck fat fries- I had to defend mine from two predators named Lana and Fordy}

Everything is magnifique at Hot Doug's, but I recommend the classic Chicago Dog, and seriously anything on the Daily Special menu.   The Caribbean Goat Sausage I had was out of this world and had a great balance of flavors (Spicy Passion Fruit-Mango Cream, Crispy Fried Onions and Smoked Cumin Gouda Cheese).   Many come for the once controversial Foie Gras Duck Sausage, and be forewarned: the duck fries served on Fridays and Saturdays are mighty addictive. 

Oh and if you haven't heard, Anthony Bourdain ate here.  Enough said!

{Anthony Bourdain ordering a Foie Gras Duck Sausage.}

Seriously, Anthony Bourdain or not, it's one of the best places to get the beloved Chicago Dog and enjoy some new clever, culinary spins of the sausage.  It's a bit of a tourist trap since Mr. Bourdain's visit, but there's plenty of love from the locals too.


P.S.  Oh, and bring cash!  No plastic accepted.  Our first visit we made it to the counter only to realize that, and we almost cried.  Doug had us order, eat first and then let us walk to the ATM. No one lets you do this, let alone in Chicago. 
See?  Super nice guy!

And if you're interested, there's a way to get free complete meals at Hot Doug's for the rest of your life (and as long as Hot Doug Emporium is still kickin') but you have to show that you've gotten a real bona fide tattoo of the Hot Doug logo.  Ah, but you'll still have to wait in line...
{First, third and twelfth photo courtesy of Google Images}

Posted by Dawn


  1. I want to eat here so badly! There is also another place called Super Dawgs that I want to check out. Hopefully I'll be able to go when I'm in the city in 2 weeks.


  2. thanks for your comment Amanda. Let us know if you go!