Hot Doug’s

Hello world! To kick off my first post on this yummy blog, I would like to introduce to you Hot Doug’s, The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium. This is a HUGE call, but I would say that this place serves the best hot dogs I have ever eaten.

And yes, I take my hot dogs seriously. To prove this, let me tell you a short story. When I was a fat five year old kid, I was put on a strict diet to lose weight. My mom instructed our cook to not over feed me, as I tend to munch on (and finish) any food in sight. During eating time (breakfast, lunch and dinner), I would usually be the first one seated at the dining table, while readying my tummy for the food to enter. When the diet started, I became sad. I got smaller portions of food from rice to dessert. I felt cheated. No, I felt betrayed. I loved my mom and my cook up until that nightmare of a diet plan. Hungry, angry and fat, I was determined to get my full ration of food.

One day, I devised a clever plan to get more food than I was allowed to have. My food target: hot dogs. Why hot dogs? It’s my go-to food when I’m hungry. More importantly, it’s one of the first foods I loved. And of course, they’re delicious with rice and a sunny side up egg. In particular, I wanted the  Purefoods Tender Juicy hot dogs. They’re tender, juicy, and deliciously red (yes, it’s food coloring).

Thanks to Cebu Shopper for the image!

The plan was both intricately and ingeniously made in the eyes of my five year old self. Here’s a quick outline of what I remember doing:

1. The prize: Make sure we had hot dogs in our fridge. Without the hot dogs, there would be no plan to begin with. Thankfully, the goods were in stock.

2. The key: I knew my mom instructed our cook to only prepare food during designated times. However, I also knew that our cook takes requests of my siblings when they want to have snacks during the day. BOOM.

3. The request: So, knowing that, I quietly went down to our kitchen where our cook was. I made sure my mom was not there, since she might foil my plan. The heavens answered my prayers. She was nowhere to be seen. Using my “chubiness and cuteness”, I politely asked our cook if she could prepare one cup of rice, 3 pieces of hot dogs and a sunny side up egg for my “brother”. I told her that my brother just played basketball and was really hungry. She gave in and started cooking. KABOOM.

4. The finish: Our cook brought the food to the dining table. I told her that my brother was coming in a few minutes. Little did she know that my brother was not actually there. HEHE! She left the room after placing the tray of food on the table. When she left, I hurriedly sat down, licked my lips and grabbed my fork and spoon and started eating like a mad man (funny thing is, I wasn’t even that hungry. I was just deprived.) Slowly, everything was beautiful again. I was indulging on one of my favorite foods: the hot dog. Spoonfuls of rice, runny yolk and hot dog pieces entering my mouth were the only things I focused on. I finished that meal in less than five minutes.

Anyway, now that I have hopefully established my love for hot dogs, let me bring back the main topic at hand: Hot Doug’s. This fine establishment, located around 20 minutes from downtown Chicago by car, serves hot dogs from the typical Chicago dog to the extremely creative “special” hot dogs made of meats from lamb to pheasant. It’s one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago, so be prepared to wait in line. On a normal day, you would probably need to wait for around 30 minutes to one hour to get in. Luckily, we went on a Monday that didn’t have too many people. Score!

Inside, the walls are covered with Doug’s paraphernalia, pictures and posters. The walls hail the “two greatest words in the English language: encased meats.” 

Hot Doug’s offers two menus to choose from: the Regular menu and Today’s Specials. The regular menu features hot dog staples such as the Chicago dog and the Polish hot dog. Today’s Specials is where the money is at. It features the creative hot dogs that Doug Sohn, the owner and head chef, is known for. I suggest ordering most of your choices from the Today’s Specials to blow your mind away. Here’s what our group ordered:

Smoked Portuguese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Aged Iberico Cheese ($7.50)

The smoky flavor of this hot dog really shines throughout the sandwich. The combination of the saffron rouille and aged Iberico cheese provides tangy and sharp flavors.

Polish Sausage: Smoked and savory - just like the King. ($3.00)

What a Polish sausage should taste and look like.

Spicy Thai Chicken Sausage with Thai Peanut Sauce and Toasted Coconut ($8.00)

This hot dog was kind of weird tasting, in a good way. It was like eating a Thai curry dish with a crunchy and soft ground chicken.

Roasted Garlic and Marsala Wild Boar Sausage with Roasted Tomato Goat Butter and Smoked Gouda Cheese ($7.50)

Wild Boar was quite gamey. The roasted tomato goat butter and smoked gouda cheese made the “gameyness” yummy.

Juan Dixon ($8.00)

I forgot what the sausage was, but the toppings of fried onions and the sauce were delicious!

Cognac and Bacon Pheasant Sausage with Chevre Cream, Wild Boar Pate and Truffle-Balsamic Drizzle ($7.50)

THE BEST: If you see this on the menu, do yourself a favor and ORDER IT. It is the BEST out of all the sausages we ordered. The sausage itself was already tasty. I didn’t know pheasant tasted that good. The Chevre cream made the sandwich creamy with slight hints of tanginess and saltiness. The Wild Boar pate blew me away. It was soft, perfectly seasoned and tasted like cubes of soft boary goodness. To top it all off, the truffle-balsamic drizzle had the right amount of sweetness and truffle flavor to it. A MUST TRY.

The Mountain Man (A damn tasty combination of Antelope, Buffalo, Elk and Venison) with Basque Fruit Cream and Queso Zamorano ($8.00)

The Mountain Man is for the men. Its strong flavors of antelope, buffalo, elk and venison make for a very, very gamey sausage. The basque fruit cream cut the gameyness and provided a sweet contrast. The queso Zamorano tasted good, like Parmigiano Reggiano good.

Fresh-cut French Fries ($2.25)

These french fries were so good! They were crunchy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside, which is how fries are supposed to be! We ordered one large fries and shared between four people. It was huge! During Fridays and Saturdays, Hot Doug’s serves duck fat fries too. I have never tried them yet, because the two times I visited this place was on a Monday.

Bottomline: if you’re in Chicago, you have to visit Hot Doug’s. No excuses. A Chicago trip will not be complete without it.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Food: 5/5 – Hot dogs and sausages are out of this world. You can definitely taste the quality in each and everyone of them.

Value for Money: 5/5 – Hot dogs range from $2.00 to $8.00. All prices include tax (thank you for the convenience Doug!)

Service: 5/5 – Doug himself is usually on the front taking orders. Ask him for recommendations, as he obviously knows his stuff pretty well.

Ambiance: 3/5 – Place was designed to personify Doug’s ecstatic and funky taste and lifestyle. Pictures speak for itself.

For more information, check out Hot Doug’s website: http://www.hotdougs.com/default.htm

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