Tuesday, October 26, 2010

hot doug's

what's the best way of spending a saturday afternoon? waiting in line for food is probably the last thing one would imagine themselves doing but that was exactly how ryan and i spent ours.

why?

two words : hot doug's.

in fact, timeout chicago magazine recently crowned this hot dog stand as the most worth the wait winner for the 2010 eat out awards.


on saturday afternoon, we drove to 3324 north california, chicago searching for this petite hot dog place. and we could immediately recognize where it was from the queue outside of the store. we were slightly taken aback by how ridiculously long the line was..


that was the beginning of our wait - at 2:25pm, to be precise. we tried to kill some time with me teaching ryan some korean and japanese that i've learned. we were inching rather slowly towards the entrance of the store. this line was probably longer than our first time at xoco. at 3pm, my tummy was grumbling but it was really my fault since i didn't have much of a breakfast. thank goodness for such a beautiful afternoon where the weather was sunny and the temp was just right. we also entertained ourselves by people watching and "eavesdropping" to the conversations around us. haha.


the closer we got to the door, the more excited i felt. i looked at the time and realized it was 3:30pm when we got to the front entrance of hot doug's. and i could smell the yumminess and my tummy started grumbling.. i need me some food, dude!


the place was brightly painted with yellow, blue  and red with a ton of  hot dog themed vintage posters  which is totally fun and groovy.


the one good thing about waiting in line is that we could take our time looking at the menu and deciding what to order. they have quite an extensive menu of hot dogs and sausages and we couldn't quite make up our minds what to get. they have their usual menu and specials menu that changes periodically as well as a game of the week. and of course, their famous duck fat fries which is only available on fridays and saturdays. 



they have such awesome names for their selections. :) we were definitely getting two of their specials and one regular hot dog to see how they fare at the classics. and needless to say, we were gonna get us the-much-raved-about duck fat fries. oh, before you go ordering every single thing on the menu, hot doug's accepts cash only. JUST CASH!


we found the timeout chicago eat out award that i read about displayed at the counter! hot doug's also won the best hot dog category in 2007 and the best cheap eats in 2008. hot doug's were also featured on america's best on food network channel. the cutest things displayed were doug's diploma from hot dog university and poupon u. awarding him the 'philosopher of dijon' in the midst of his hot dog memorabillias :)



as we walked up to the counter, we saw doug - the doug of hot doug's!


doug is super nice and friendly and didn't rush us for our order even with the long line behind us. we ordered the duck fries, the foie gras sausage, the mountain man sausage and for the classic we ordered the salma hayek which is the andouille sausage. 

then, he asked us what kind of topping we wanted on the salma hayek...

uh oh... crap! we didn't think that far... -.-

but doug kindly suggested caramelized onions, mustard and pickle to go with it since we looked absolutely clueless and slightly panicky. lol. we gratefully complied with his suggestion but requested to have the pickle on the side.

we  found ourselves some seats by the window (lucky us!). our order was served just minutes after we were seated. it was time to try for ourselves what this hype was all about.

the salma hayek | andouille sausage: mighty, mighty, mighty hot! ($4)


i wanted to start off slowly and with the familiar so the first sausage i tried was the andouille sausage. a good amount of condiments topped the hot dog which i could see was seared well. first bite was so delish. first was the crispy sear then the snap of the casing followed by the moistness of the sausage. it has the slight spice (not even close to spicy hot) with the familiar flavors of what andouille should be which pairs well with the tang of the mustard and sweetness of the caramelized onions. and this is cushioned in a soft, fresh hot dog bun. we actually didn't need the pickle.


ryan said it reminded him of home when he took a bite (he's from louisiana - andouille capital of the world!). the best parts are the ones at both ends because of the extra crispiness so you can begin and end with the yummiest bites.

foie gras and sauternes duck sausage | with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel ($9)


when i saw the sear on the sausage, i immediately thought this was rather promising. as i bit into it, i immediately recognize the duck flavor in the sausage which is enhanced by the foie gras mousse that melts in your mouth. the truffle aioli has a distinct truffle flavor but was not overpowering. all these make up a really good combination of flavors.


the sausage paired so well with the richness of both the mousse and the creamy and earthy aioli. just as it was with the other sausages, it had the snap that i look for in a great sausage and the moistness on the inside. yummy!

the MOUNTAIN MAN sausage | (a damn tasty combination of elk, venison, buffalo and antelope) with smokey bacon dressing and vintage van gogh cheese ($8)


i wanted to try this mainly because i have never had any of the meat listed in this sausage and thought i might be a lil adventurous. ryan wasn't too sure about getting it because these meats are all lean so there's a possibility that it might turn out to be dry. the first bite i had, it definitely wasn't dry but i had some trouble figuring out how the sausage is different than any other in terms of flavor.  


then when i took a bite of the sausage with just the bun, there was a subtle gamey-ness that i was expecting and searching for. the smokeyness of  the dressing aided in this sausage's campaign to greatness which also added to the moistness of this flavorful hot dog. however, if there were any bacon in the dressing, i couldn't taste it. the vintage van gogh cheese (which is an aged gouda) has a sharp flavor similar to cheddar but with bitter undertones. ryan was particularly fond of the cheese. despite the non existent of the bacon flavor, the combination of flavors is really tasty. 

duck fat fries ($3.50)


this was the reason why we came on a saturday despite the extra long lines. sad to say, we were disappointed by the fries. it didn't have any special flavor from frying in duck fat. and searching for one crispy stick of potato was a futile effort because it was mostly soggy. maybe it was just sitting at the counter for too long or maybe it wasn't a freshly fried batch of fries. but it definitely wasn't anything special.

nonetheless, this less-than-spectacular fries wasn't enough to dampen our experience at hot doug's.

hot doug's offers an american classic in a fantastic fashion (think of their regular menu) and amazes us with out of the ordinary sausages that is familiar yet adventurous in its own way (think their specials menu). 

so the golden question: was it really worth the an hour and half wait?

dear timeout chicago readers, you are a bunch of wise people :)

so yes, definitely! and i would totally do it again.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

Hot Doug's on Urbanspoon

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