Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hot Doug's

Hot damn Hot Doug's; you provided me with a transcendent eating experience.

Tucked away on an unassuming corner in Avondale sat Hot Doug's, the self-proclaimed "encased meats emporium and sausage superstore". I walked in at 3pm, smiled at the lack of a big line, and salivated in anticipation of what I'd be eating momentarily.

Doug himself helped the people ahead of me, offering thorough answers to their many questions, seeming totally in his element. He is a man that cares deeply about his product. To get some kind of idea about Doug's dedication and mentality, I suggest you read this interview he had with Zagat surrounding his "controversial" use of foie gras.

After I made my way to the front of the line, I did what some LTH'ers suggested: I asked Doug what I needed to get. He asked whether I wanted a special or something off the regular menu because the prices of the specials were significantly higher. I said I wanted the absolute best thing that he had. He emphatically answered, "the foie gras dog".

At $9, it has to be considered a pricey hot dog, but still, look at its ingredients. To me, the cost was understandable even before taking a bite. I had no idea what to expect in terms of presentation or flavor, I just knew that it sounded wild. And, looking back, in light of all the foie gras issues that have plagued Doug, I'm surprised that it was even on the menu. I guess that's a testament to his resilience...

There are no words to describe the super-rich flavor explosion that happened within my mouth. In fact, during the first bite, I realized just how much of an amateur I am. I didn't know where to begin - my thoughts were all over the place. The dog wasn't big in size, but it was huge in flavor. It quickly made me realize how tough it would be to become a vegetarian.

The foie gras on top was smooth and clean, its taste sharpened by the sel gris (gray sea salt) sprinkled on top. And then, paired with the actual sweet, pink-in-the-middle duck sausage and the buttery bun with the tuffle aioli - wow. It all worked - it had so much going on and yet it was completely balanced.

Though trying to cherish each and every last morsel, I took down the foie gras and sauternes duck sausage quite quickly and walked back up to the counter (no line, yes!). This time, Doug told me that I should try the Marty Allen, the Thuringer. And once again, I listened, letting him dress it however he would have it dressed if he were eating it.

The Marty Allen is hello der beef, pork, and garlic. Mine was topped with a pickle, sport peppers, caramelized onions, and brown mustard. I hurriedly took a picture so that I could take a bite. I still had a major appetite - the calories from the first dog hadn't hit me yet.

The first bite left so many smoky, zesty, and tasty flavors swimming around on my tongue, it was hard at first to distinguish the various components. The toppings were not overpowering, though they may have looked overwhelming, the meat was delish, its garlic smokiness aided by the considerable heat from the sport peppers, and the bun was not as buttery as the first one, but soft, browned, and sound.

Hot Doug's should be visited for its specialty dogs because Doug Sohn knows what he's doing. The regular dogs are great, but the specialty dogs are beautiful. They are culinary works of art. You can tell he's been in this game for a long time. Your arteries might be mad at you, but please, for the sake of your happiness, eat his food. He is a creative master. And even though the location is a bit obscure, it's a perfect place to enjoy hot dogs, just ask any of the gazillion people that frequent his spot on a daily basis.

Back or Forth? I will be going back.

Hot Doug's - Avondale - (773)279-9550 - 3324 N. California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 - Public transportation: bus 52 or the Belmont stop of the Blue Line, though that leaves you with a 20-min walk.

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage - $9
The Marty Allen (Thuringer) - $3.25


Ashley said...

in response to your post...

sweet, pink-in-the-middle sausage and buttery bun


Dantaniel said...

hahahaha - you got me. damn.