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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!

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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 773.279.9550

10:30am-4pm, closed Sundays!