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Chicago hot dog reviews

Hot Doug’s

Hot Doug'sWe’ve been doing these Chicago eating binges with our friend Maria, which allows us to do a lot more sampling than if it was just me and my wife. This is why we can order four different sausages at Hot Doug’s without feeling too guilty.

Chicago-style hot dogs differ from other styles of hot dogs because they generally include mustard, onions, an artificially colored neon-green relish, tomato slices, and a pickle spear, all served on a poppy seed bun. I made sure that all of our orders had everything on it, although this may have been a tactical mistake on the bratwurst, which I would have like to have tried with just sauerkraut. The bratwurst was still excellent since it was very juicy, probably because it’s soaked in beer. We also had The Elvis, a smoked polish sausage, and The Dog (below), a traditional Chicago-style hot dog.

The Dog: Chicago Style Hot Dog

But the best hot dog of the day was the spicy hot dog known as The Keira Knightly. What I liked about the Keira was that the spicy dog had a nice heat that balanced out the other flavors that were packed into the dog, especially the sweet relish. The other dogs were good, but Keira’s relative hotness separated it from the pack.

Keira Knightly: Spicy

The menu described the Keira Knightly as “mighty hot,” but I thought it was a pleasant, mild heat. By comparison, the andouille sausage known as The Salma Hayak (which we didn’t order) is said to be “mighty, mighty, mighty hot.” If this is true, then Salma is hotter than Keira both in hot dogs and real life.

Still, as good as the hot dogs were, they were nearly eclipsed by an even more impressive concoction…duck fat fries. That’s right…french fries fried in duck fat. I shouldn’t have to say anything more, so here:

Duck Fat FriesDuck fat fries are only available on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan your trip accordingly.

There’s a quote on the wall at Hot Doug’s by someone named Secret Robbie that says:

There are no two finer words in the English language than “encased meats,” my friend.

Word.

INFORMATION
Hot Doug’s
The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium
3324 N. California Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618 map
773.279.9550
Web site

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The Oinkster

The OinksterWhen I’m home in SoCal, heading out to Eagle Rock isn’t normally on the agenda, especially for food. But when some friends told me about The Oinkster’s house-cured pastrami sandwiches and ube milk shakes, Eagle Rock started sounding mighty nice.

The Oinkster is the brainchild of Andre Guerrero, a Filipino American chef who’s a veteran of the Southern California restaurant scene. His other restaurant, Max in Sherman Oaks, offers contemporary Pan-Asian fine dining that’s a stark contrast to The Oinkster’s laid-back, order-at-the-counter vibe. (We also took my parents to Max for a Mother’s/Father’s Day dinner, so basically it was an Andre Guerrero weekend.) We ended up going to Oinkster twice in four days and were able to try a good cross section of the menu.

The Oinkster Pastrami sandwich is a thing of beauty—pastrami with Gruyere and a red cabbage slaw. The pastrami is cured for two weeks (the old-fashioned way) according to a recipe Guerrero developed over a period of two years. It’s not a melt-in-your-mouth pastrami like they have at Katz’s in New York, but it’s definitely the some of best pastrami I’ve had on the West Coast.


Oinkster Pastrami

Aside from the sandwiches, the pastrami also tops the Royale burger, and it’s also featured in their excellent chili. If you’re from Southern California, you’ve likely had a chiliburger at one of the many Original Tommy’s hamburger stands that are down here. Tommy’s chili is legendary in L.A., so it may be blasphemous of me to say this, but…The Oink’s chili is so much better. In fact, I don’t know what I really saw in Tommy’s chili other than the novelty of it. I went back to Tommy’s with my wife a few months ago, and on its own, the chili reminded me of dog food. It really needs to be paired with fries or a burger. The Oink’s chili can definitely stand on it’s own, and it has a freshness that you’ll never get from Tommy’s chili.