In case you have 45 minutes to kill, and are feeling in a kitschy mood- grab a meal at Hot Doug’s, a true Chicago must-do! I went here a week or so ago, as I retraced my old Chi-Town stomping grounds. What I found a bit out the ways, northwest of the main city strip on N. California and W. Roscoe St, was a line out the door about 8 people long, and an intriguing eatery. Muttering at the annoyance of having to wait in a queue, a hardcore “Hot Douger” standing just in front of me explained to me the ropes. Everyone gets a seat in the restaurant if they want it (hence the annoying line); the line is a necessary evil, but worth it; cash only, so back to basics; and these encased meats are foodie worthy- so shut your pie hole and eat up! Menu items range from foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli to your plain brat, however you want it.
There is a process here, one that must be respected. Doug himself takes your order when you finally make it inside. The sausages are all made in house, and on weekends, the fries are even fried in duck fat! Oh, and let me not forget the funnest part—the walls are entrenched with wiener paraphernalia.
What’s my diagnostic? I was far more intrigued with the décor than the meal (*gasp, I know*), but it’s definitely worth a try- at least once. So perhaps I wasn’t converted into a diehard Hot Douger with the food- but I was converted into an admirer with the creative musings on the wall. Mr. Hot Doug even thought to theme the bathroom doors—cool or what?
Rumor has it that some forever fanatics even have Hot Doug tattoos, and use it as their currency to never have to pay for a hot dog at this joint again! Also, a woman once gave birth in the middle of the restaurant….guess which one I made up? Yes, some people have shown they bleed meat and cheese fries. And no, no children have been birthed at this establishment. If you’re in Chicago and want to give this legend a whirl, make sure to avoid weekends (line can take hours), be sure you bring cash—and know they close at 4pm. Hot Doug’s or Bust. How many food spots can say that?