It didn’t take much convincing, but it did take a bit of organizing and a two-week wait (while they remained closed for much of October) to get a small hungry group together to hoof it to Hot Doug’s on a chilly Saturday afternoon earlier this month. It’s been on my list for a minute, and now that I’ve finally been, I no longer have to endure looks of horror that would transpire as I would reveal that I’ve never been to the famous encased meat emporium. I had heard of long waits, duck fat french fries, alligator sausage and Anthony Bourdain’s summer visit to the restaurant for his show, “No Reservations,” and we experienced almost all of it on our visit.
My adventurous lunch partners and I braved a 45-minute wait, and once we got inside the red, blue and yellow hued space decked with a disco ball, signed celebrity posters and kitschy dog paraphernalia on the walls, we took full advantage of the specials menu, collectively ordering up the deliciously rich duck sausage dog with foie gras and black truffle butter pictured above (the favorite of the haul), the Jack Daniels and fennel pork sausage with sage cheese and bacon garlic mayo, a mega-garlic dog (I can’t remember the exact name but it was delish) and a classic corn dog for good measure, oh, and a game of the week dog: white wine and Dijon rabbit sausage with dijon-garlic goat’s milk butter, Montsegur cheese and balsamic-truffle cream (not-too-gamey and rich, but not as flavorful as the duck). We also threw in a few items from the regular menu including the Salma Hayek andouille sausage dog and a good ol’ Chicago-style dog. And being Saturday, lots and lots of duck fat French fries (and cheese fries just to compare). There was no comparison, the duck fat french fries won out by an addictive landslide, so rich and decadent they almost eclipse the juicy flavor of the sausages doused in hearty sauces. Almost.
At the end it all kind of looked like this. When the colorful melange finally arrived, that silence that falls over a ravenous table ensued as we devoured different bites of each juicy, gourmet condiment-soaked dog in between handfuls of duck fat fries. One of my dining companions saw someone he knew at the next table, and they only nodded at each other mid-chew in respective silence…then no one ate for the rest of the weekend. A few after-thoughts from my dining companions to follow. Hot Doug’s, 3324 N. California, 773.279.9550
“Should we include summaries of the effects on our digestional tracts? New word: digestional.”—J. Hot.
“Duck fat fries are worth the extra cash. Bathroom door signs were as good as the food. It’s best not to eat at Lula one hour before arriving. And the California bus runs efficiently.” —Bill M.
“The California bus was amazing. Too bad they weren’t in charge of the line outside, though half an hour wasn’t bad. My corn dog side car was delicious, the rabbit dog was awesome.”— J. Hot
“Likes—the chairs, owner, game of the week sign, bathroom signs, and anything encased covered in gourmet sauces and cheeses. Duck fat fries are the way to go.” —T. Lange
And in case you’re still not salivating..