Chicago Chow: Hot Doug’s

Eating Out

This past weekend, I paid a short visit to Chicago to visit some friends.  While there, I checked out a few of the city’s best specialties (hot dogs and pizza, of course!). This week, I’ll be profiling some of the best nosh in the windy city.  Sure I was stranded for an extra day when the snowstorm hit the Midwest, but was it worth it? You betcha!  I first started out at Hot Doug’s.   The above foie gras dog was just one of the joint’s numerous offerings. Intrigued? Keep reading…

Hot Doug’s was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Chicago episode, so of course I had to try it out.   The first thing I noticed was the line out the door and around the corner.  Wind and rain didn’t deter these dog enthusiasts!


Once inside, I perused the extensive menu and witty decor.

While I’m not necessarily a taxidermy enthusiast, I admit this was a hoot:

I was here for two things in particular – the first was the Foie Gras and Suaternes Duck Sausage, with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse, and fleur de sel (first picture).

And the second? Well, just look at the bottom of this menu:

Duck fat fries?  Booyah! Sign me up!

I first d(o)ug into the foie gras dog. Now if there’s anything I like, it’s duck, mousse, truffles, and sausage.  This sounded like a sure winner.   I took a bite and was in heaven. The foie gras was rich, fatty and creamy.  I wanted to slurp up the truffle aioli with a straw (don’t judge, you know that sounds good).  This dog was rich and luxurious.  Some might say, a little too luxurious.  The creaminess might just be too much for some. I am not those some.

We then tackled the duck fat fries:

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – if I had to pick two fats to eat for the rest of my life (just two? A travesty!), I’d pick duck and pork, no question.   Fried carbs and duck fat sounds like the perfect combination.  Sadly, I didn’t really taste as much duck as I had hoped in these fries.  They were yummy and hot, but I just hoped they would be duckier.  Not to worry though, I still finished them.

To round out my Hot Doug’s experience, I ordered the “The Dog” – I figured it was good to try the standard.  I got it with everything – mustard, caramelized onions, relish, tomato, pickle and celery salt. Ta-da!


Served on a poppy seed bun, The Dog is a far cry from the NYC style hot dog of plain bun and mustard (plus ketchup if you so desire).  While my heart will always belong to NYC, I appreciate Chicago dogs for all their toppings – especially that DayGlo relish!  Doug’s The Dog was perfectly grilled, and the toppings complemented the dog perfectly without overwhelming it.  I was particularly fond of the celery salt – sooooo delish!

The decor at Hot Doug’s is clever and kitschy – I especially appreciated the Men’s and Women’s Restroom signs:

Heehee haha OMG.

Of course I couldn’t pay a visit to Hot Doug’s without a picture with Doug himself!

Doug was right up front, taking orders at the counter.  He was so friendly and down-to-earth.  Even little things such as suggesting getting a small soda (“There are free refills”) show that he’s in it for the joy of the hot dog.  And he’s a NYC transplant – heeeey!

While the wait at Hot Doug’s can be a little crazy, the food, ambiance and experience make it all worth it.  If you’re ever in Chicago, give Hot Doug’s a try!

Worth the wait!

Hot Doug’s
3324 North California
Chicago, IL
10:30am-4pm, closed Sundays!

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  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    BAHAHA! Those bathroom signs are AMAZING!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Best restroom sign EVER! Amazing. It all looks so good – I've never had duck fat fries but am intrigued.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Ha! What fun decor. 🙂 So cool that Doug was so nice!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Those bathroom signs are amazing!

    As a Chicagoan, I have to admit I've never been to Hot Doug's. We kind of have to make our own Chicago specialities as vegans – good thing we have the Chicago Diner, Karyn's, Handlebar, Soul Veg, etc!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Ack! This got me in the mood for a trip to Chicago. Looking forward to seeing your food recaps this week!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    aww.. Hot Dougs! I started out there for my bachelorette party! I adore their dogs. For duck fat fries, I prefer Sweets & Savories. Great review!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    hahahaha. cute signs. Yummy lookin' dogs too!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Hey! You were in my neck of the woods (for the next 2 weeks anyway — though I'll always be a Chicago girl at heart). I love Hot Doug's, but they no longer serve my all-time favorite, which was a spicy portuguese:( But the duck fat fries are to die for. I can't wait to read about your other adventures here. Chicago is a haven for foodies. I'm so going to miss the food here (ummm….my friends and family too).

  • Reply
    honey my heart
    December 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    oh my… my mouth is watering. i remember that episode of no reservations and totally want a foie gras dog and duck fat fries. yum!!

  • Reply
    San Jose Love
    December 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    "The Dog" and the foie gras dog look really good.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Oh my, those dogs sounds amazing. I'm a french fry addict and would give my right arm just to try those duck fat fries. Ommmnommm

  • Reply
    Chic 'n Cheap Living
    December 15, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Duck fat fries- just wow!

  • Reply
    D. Marie
    December 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I saw that episode!! That is so cool! That last dog, "The Dog" looks very tasty….I think now I want to have a hot dog for lunch!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    we passed on this last time we went to chicago–looks like we made a HUGE mistake! sounds like it was wonderful. love those bathroom signs. heehee.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2010 at 2:30 am

    So jealous of your trip to Hot Doug's (it's not far from my house, but I've only been once!!).

    I agree with you on the duck fat fries – they weren't as amazing as I had hoped; much better to go on a weekday for regular fries and a shorter line. But you definitely got the true experience, waiting forever in awful weather 😉

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