I love food. All kinds. All animals. All plants. I suppose I can exclude insects, sea anemones, bark, mud, feces, and anything from a species’ scrotum. But beyond that I’m not picky. At least in the sense that I don’t just eat ground meat, or no meat, or no meat and cheese together, or no cheese at all, or just wonder bread with the crust cut off peanut butter sandwiches. I’ve met a person who only eats the aforementioned things. They are in fact weirdos. I feel the deepest pity for them. They shall remain nameless to protect the guilty. So beyond needing quality, I’m open. I also happen to love men. Even when they’re so mind-numbingly stupid, mean, or boring, I find myself fascinated and drawn in. Women I can take only the highest quality, but men, I need. So it should come as no surprise that I love food that also reflects phallic shapes. Sorry, Dad. Oh, hey, speaking oh phallic like foods, Chicago has made hot dogs and encased meat their bitch. They own it, rule it, slap it, rip it, and rub it down. They kick New York’s ass, Germany’s kippe, and anywhere else who claims the #1 spot on tubey meat charts. The highly opinionated, well-traveled New York chef and author, Anthony Bourdain, has resigned this very fact and given Chicago the credit it’s due.
And so upon moving to Chicago and now approaching a year of frigid bliss here, I’ve done copious amounts of research on this very subject, among all other foods. Where can I find the best hot dogs and phallic formed meat in this crazy town? The consensus among foodies, smarties, and most Chicagoans is Hot Doug’s. Located at 3324 N. California Avenue in between neighborhoods but within none, Hot Doug’s large, plain sign is a beacon of light in an otherwise uninteresting district. Not to offend the residents of this area, it’s filled with great restaurants like the previously reviewed Kuma’s Corner, and the highly anticipated review of Urban Belly, but set somewhat outside of the Loop and on the outskirts of more populated neighborhoods, Doug’s is on a less beaten path. All the better because parking is free!
And so, much to the chagrin of pigs, ducks, yaks, chickens, cows, ducks’ livers, Elk, baby cows, lamb, and most edible sea creatures, I ventured west to brave the long line for what would be some delicious mastication. Joining me in this sweet, sweet carnivorous exploration were my parents and brother, the original fab four. Again, they shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty. Most of them are foodies, or just game for good meat. We drove, parked, walked, stood, waited, entered, read the menu, drooled in anticipated and then finally approached the almighty Doug himself. Super friendly, unassuming, hard-working and passionate, Doug is providing the public with high quality, equally creative, monumentally delicious dogs and sausages Monday through Saturday, 1030-4 pm. It’s also cash only, so prepare accordingly.
To say we were eager is an understatement. The feeling was almost primal, as if the instinct to consume could only be thwarted by some sort of attack, atomic in nature. Luckily no one wanted to ruin this special occasion. The four of us ordered 6 dogs/sausages, two orders of Doug’s famous duck-fat fries, and 4 sodas. Can you say God Bless America?!
We had some classics, like the Chicago-dog, which you can find almost anywhere. Wrigley has a good one, but Doug kicks it up a notch making every ingredient the deepest quality. All beef dog, natural casing, spicy pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, yellow mustard, neon relish and celery fricken salt. I bought celery salt after I had a Chicago dog. The seasoning alone is that good! Doug’s corn dog didn’t disappoint either. But where he really earns his stripes is with the specials. I can’t even ring off what we all had because I stupidly forgot to write it down and entered such tremendous food bliss, transitioning into comatose food bliss, that my body has decided to protect my heart and other vital organs by making me forget. Suffice it to say there was some duck and pork sausage, yak sausage I believe, with great little additions like lemon mayonnaise, goat cheese, havarti cheese, drinkable bbq sauce, and the ingredient that improves any meal you could ever conjure up, caramelized onions.
The specials change each day but never lack in ingenuity, love or execution. They all smell, look, sound, feel and most importantly, taste, great. This place is truly a visceral, all-sensing experience. It even moves beyond sensing into this deep-seeded consciousness, a place I find when practicing yoga, meditating, and mostly by eating tremendous food such as this. Sorry vegetarians. I have deep compassion and love for animals, but being I only have so many years to live and so much food to taste, I honor their lives when I enthusiastically swish their flesh around my tongue and into my digestive tract. And perhaps it’s nature’s karma to give us increased toilet time, but I’m fully prepared to do the time since I committed the tasty, tasty crime.
Open wide. Gaze. Smell. Listen. Feel. Taste. Enjoy.