When the legendary Hot Doug’s closed shop last fall, fans of the famed hot dog stand wept and sighed and begged for a longer stay, then they pulled themselves together and camped outside in line for a solid day to get one last bite of their favorite encased meat. Just in time for summer ball games and grilling season, we asked former owner Doug Sohn what makes the perfect Chicago-style hot dog.
"You start with an all-beef hot dog with natural casing — that’s very important," he explains. "When steamed, you get that snap, and when char-grilled, you get a little extra crunch you wouldn’t get with a mushy, uncased hot dog." Then, you need all of the "requisite toppings": yellow mustard, chopped onions, sweet green pickle relish, tomato slices, a crisp dill pickle slice, sport peppers, and a dusting of celery salt, all stuffed into a plump and properly steamed — not soggy! — poppy seed bun. And, don't even think of looking at that ketchup bottle.
"The combination of flavors and textures is what makes the Chicago hot dog taste so distinctively good," Sohn says. You can taste what he's describing firsthand at Hot Doug’s Appreciation Day on May 16 at Lakeview’s Paulina Market, or next month at The Dog Dayz of Summer, a two-day fest where Sohn will be slinging sausages.
Can't wait until then? We took a little tour around town sampling dogs and fries to come up with a list of the very best bites. While our picks are not technically all Chicago dogs, they are all amazing and delicious. Click ahead and feast your eyes.