One of my highlights of visiting Chicago a few years ago was standing in a two hour line waiting for gourmet hot dogs and duck-fat fries from Hot Doug’s, the world famous sausage and encased meat emporium.
The long wait for these amazing sandwiches gives you a chance to trade tips with other Chicago visitors and get advice for locals.
When I decided that I wanted to attend Lollapalooza 2015, the only downside to my trip to Chicago was that Hot Doug’s had closed their doors permanently in 2014.
I kept my hopes up that someone would recognize the huge vacuum in the hot dog market that came about due to Doug’s departure. Lo and behold, someone did. Not just anyone, but two former chefs who got Doug’s blessings to continue his legacy of exotic hot dogs and duck-fat fries.
According to Doug Sohn “They’re total pros in the kitchen,” and “They made Hot Doug’s as much as a success as I did.”
I checked out the menu of their new joint; Hot “G” Dog and saw some of Hot Doug’s classics as well as some new ones.
GETTING TO HOT “G” DOG
Doug kept his establishment outside of downtown Chicago. Could you imagine the line if he was located in the Loop?
Hot “G” Dog is in uptown Chicagom just a few stops going North on the Red line.
Baseball fans could check out Wrigley Field on the way to Hot “G” Dougs.
As much as I wanted to try everything on the menu, I limited myself to four carefully selected Hot Dogs.
I’ve had duck fat fries a few times before and I wanted to sample the hot dogs more than anything else.
It was difficult, but I managed to decide on four that stood out. These are the four that I tried from Hot “G” Dog:
1- CHICKEN BACON SAUSAGE
with Cheddar Sauce, Fried Tomato & Mozzarella cheese
The sharp tomato flavor provides a nice contrast to the creamy cheese. Everything in this hot dog reminded me of a good cheese burger or really good pizza. In fact, this hot dog seemed alot like a classic fast food mash-up; hot dog inspired by a bacon cheeseburger pizza.
2 – YAR PORK SAUSAGE
with Italian beer sauce with with Marinated Mushrooms & Feta Cheese
Quite spicy sausage but it was a bit dry. The mushrooms and cheese five it a tangy zest that overpowers the beer sauce a bit. I’m glad this one was the biggest of the four that I ordered because it took a while to grow on me.
3 – GARLIC VENISON SAUSAGE
with Dijon Mustard with Garlic, Cherry Peppers & Goat Cheese
Not really a fan of the cherry peppers so I had most of mine without them. I love goat cheese and felt like the peppers were stealing the show from the cheese. Everything works well for a tangy, garlic-flavor packed hot dog.
4 – DUCK SAUSAGE
Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel
The duck sausage is perfect. Charred on the outside, but still moist and flavorful. Years ago when I ordered Doug’s version if this with the sausage fried, he actually suggested that I take it grilled instead. The mousse and aioli are extremely rich and creamy with delicate flavors. Perfectly decadent. This was amazing at Hot Doug’s and it’s phenomenal here.
Some reviews of Hot “G” Doug went out of their way to find fault, such as the sausage of the Chicago Dog feeling a but loose and not having enough snap to the casing. I feel like their food is so good, that is the only way to find fault; to actively seek it. In any case, even Hot Doug’s could never beat Portillo’s when it came to a perfect Chicago Dog.
Two of the dogs that I tried were decadent and rich, and these were my favorite because it felt like they somehow managed to capture a gourmet meal in a humble street food. The other two were probably just not my kinda hot dog, they captured the “dragged through the garden” feel of the Chicago Dog and even had a tangy element to replace the pickle slice. In this regard, Hot “G” Dog creates not just gourmet hot dogs, but gourmet hot dogs that are distinctly Chicago.
So far, there’s one major factor that makes Hot “G” Dog much better than Hot Doug’s, and that is that there’s virtually no line!