Category Archives: hot dog hunt

What exactly am I on the hunt for? I don’t know. Just an excuse to try out a new dog.

Guest blog: Baconfest 2011

While I am not fast enough to jump on Baconfest 2011 tickets, my dedicated readers are! So when Jacky Hackett of cooking blog guessed her second post correctly, (this time the mystery goat), she asked if a post on Baconfest would be, er, Kosher? Since I didn’t get to bask in the bacon-ocity, I was happy to get her full report as well as some mouth-watering photos below…

Baconfest 2011 and the crowd is ready to go hog-wild

“My husband and I were lucky enough to score tickets to Baconfest 2011. Baconfest is four hours of bacon goodness with some of Chicago’s greatest chefs preparing amazing dishes, and a few liquor sponsors provided drinks featuring bacon. But it’s not only about the swine, a food-drive is run at the event and a portion of the Baconfest proceeds are donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

We arrived at the UIC Forum to find a line winding around the block. Bacon fans poured over the menu to plot their strategy for working their way through the fest. The menu was an amazing read with offerings like bacon cotton candy, bacon biscotti, bacon-stuffed bacon, applewood smoked bourbon bacon jam, BLT martinis and bacon-infused rum. With more than 50 dishes it was a bit overwhelming; you truly did need a strategy.

We managed to hit about two-thirds of the stations. Even though servings were small, we got quite full after just a handful of dishes. A few of the chefs were out of food before we got to them, some just weren’t appealing enough to add to our overly full bellies, and a few we just overlooked. Choosing a favorite would be like choosing a favorite child, it just can’t be done…but here are a few we’re still thinking about..

Old Town Social (Jared Vancamp) served a Triple S Farms smoked bacon wrapped around a Monterey Jack-stuffed hot dog topped with pickled jalapeños, salsa fresco, and a lime aïoli. The hot dog can only be described as smooth, the bacon gave it a great smoky flavor and the toppings added a nice freshness.

Tijuana Hog Dog

Lillie’s Q (Charlie McKenna) served a pork belly and grit hash with a smoked gulf shrimp, bacon, on top of an ENC vinegar sauce. The pork belly and vinegar sauce were a match made in heaven and the grits were creamy and rich dotted with bits of bacon.

We also loved crispy pork belly with grilled ramps, peas, and farro drizzled with bacon agrodolce served by Gamba Ristorante (Tony Graves). Not only was it good-looking but the pork belly was cooked to perfection. The sweet and sour of the agrodolce balanced the rich fatty belly perfectly.

Pork belly with farro

Magnolia Café (Kas Medhat) served their interpretation of Pork’n’Beans; white bean spread topped with thick cut bacon and greens on a sourdough bread.

Terzo Piano (Margaret Colleran Sahs) served an empanada with Dreymiller and Kray cinnamon bacon, dried seedling strawberry, toasted almond with a salsa verde. The empanada had just the right amount of sweetness with a touch of savory in the salsa verde. My husband described it as tasting like Christmas. We left the fest happy, full, clothes smelling faintly of bacon, and in desperate need of a nap.”  — Jacky Hackett



Filed under guest blogger, hot dog hunt, mystery spot, thick

On the table: Leo’s Coney Island

Ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, hot sauce, sugar. 3455 N. Southport

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More Franks ‘N’ Dawgs

Franks 'N' Dawgs sign

As promised, a few more enticing pics from my lunchtime jaunt to the new Franks ‘N’ Dawgs in Lincoln Park. This place is dangerously close to my office, and serves as a nice alternative to salad bar overload at Whole Foods. And by salad alternative, I mean Chef Joe Doren’s jaw-dropping hot dog creations like the Stylin’ Dawg (German-style brat with apples, walnuts, celery, grapes and mayo), Beef Curry (ground beef and Indian curry with orange marmalade, orange salad, parsley, blood orange oil and raisin slaw), Tur-Doggin (turkey and date dog with duck confit, herb garlic aïoli and pickled onions) and Cheesehead (Sheboygan brat, caramelized onion, grilled portobellos and smoked gouda). Every month Doren also hands the reigns over to a local chef who makes a monthly dog special (when I was there it was a pork loin sausage with smoked bacon, fried egg and maple mayo from Lockwood’s Phillip Foss, next up is Avenues Chef Curtis Duffy). It only intensifies your ordering conundrum. Once you do decide on your dog (I recommend throwing in the $4.50 mystery corn dog with beer mustard), you pick a celebrity “number” for your order (see Frank On the Table below), from Chris Rock to Brad Pitt. Add to that fresh ingredients, light-as-air buttered artisan buns from Nicole’s, a Wisconsin-inspired brat selection, an intriguing Chicken Cesar dog with black garlic, and list of Global Dawgs like the lamb keema with English peas, cucumber salad and caramelized pearl onions and you know this isn’t another chili-cheese dog spot (but they have those too). But it was Global N’Awlins that caught my eye first..spicy, juicy andouille, fried okra, fried shrimp, kicky gumbo sauce..a po’boy hot dog style…

N'Awlins Dawg

The opposite of that might have been the Fu, ordered by my vegetarian companion. But with marinated tofu, goat’s cheese, grilled eggplant relish, portobellos and a bright green Italian salsa verde, even I didn’t miss the meat.

Fu Dawg

Ever see a corn dog presentation almost too pretty to eat? Housemade beer mustards accompany the mystery corn dog (made with a different sausage of the week, ours=German bratwurst), and Anson Mills polenta batter which creates a sweet, golden coating that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, 1863 N. Clybourn, 312.281.5187

Mystery Corn Dawg with housemade beer mustard


Filed under hot dog hunt, new restaurants

On the table: Franks ‘N’ Dawgs

Watch for a particularly tasty post from this place this week...

Napkin holder, Frank Sinatra order “number” (one of many celebs to choose from). Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, 1863 N. Clybourn, 773.477.7200

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Juicy Pug Chug

"Pugsley" upstairs at Juicy

"Pugsley" upstairs at Juicy

I realized that it’s been ages since I offered up any report from the local hot dog front, so I felt it only necessary to indulge in not one, but a record-breaking three hot dogs this weekend (oy), and attend a doggie-themed charity event to boot. I was so excited for Juicy Wine Co.’s first annual Pug Chug benefitting the Northern Illinois Pug Rescue and Adoption organization, not only to get to play with pugs, but for the hot dogs, hand-dipped corn dogs and summer-friendly wines selected by host Alpana Singh. When I got there, I discovered only one resident pooch, Pugsley, roaming around, and lots and lots of corn dogs for the taking. I’d been craving a sweet, cornmeal-crusted dog on a stick for what seems like years or at least since I’ve repeatedly seen them served up next to the elephant ears and funnel cakes at those colorfully headache-inducing street fair food stands. These were actually good, and spotted next to a Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir and a Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc.
Hand-dipped corn dogs on the patio at Juicy

Hand-dipped corn dogs on the patio at Juicy

And the wines, 16 to try and 1 sake. I love crisp, cool, apple-y Rieslings and couldn’t sip enough of the Charles Smith Kungfu Girl Riesling (and got a bottle for myself on the way out). The Sofia Riesling won out for prettiest bottle, but was bit too sweet. For reds, I also enjoyed La Posta Malbec, dry yet bursting with lush dark fruit flavors and slight bitterness. But the Murphy’s Law rosé was my favorite, light and fruity, a great wine for sipping on a sunny Saturday.
Rieslings ready to pour

Rieslings ready to pour

Murphy's Law rosé and Tozia Junmai Living Jewel sake

Murphy's Law rosé and Tozia Junmai Living Jewel sake

After the corn dogs, Juicy owner Rodney Alex fired up the panini press for a few rounds of hot dogs, which paired surprisingly well with the Kungfu Girl.
Panini-pressed dogs

Panini-pressed dogs

All in all I left full of great vino, delicious hot dogs, my corn dog craving sated for at least another year, and my desire for an actual (non-hot) dog greater than ever. Juicy Wine Co., 694 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312.492.6620


Filed under boozeworthy, hot dog hunt


A brand new year has me pondering the things I plan to accomplish, and what I’ve yet to do…like blog about Superdawg. I guess it’s more of a summertime destination what with the A & W-style ordering from the car window, but I’ve been craving the place like mad so watch for a post…”not known for” suggestions are welcome…tamales anyone?

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On the table: Hot Doug’s

img_3760Napkin dispenser, salt and pepper, ketchup bottle. 3324 N. California Ave., 773.279.9550

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Hot Doug’s (finally!)


Foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage with truffle sauce

Foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage with truffle sauce

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

Sausage fest

Sausage fest

“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..

Jack Daniel's and fennel pork sausage with bacon-garlic mayo and sage derby cheese

Jack Daniel's and fennel pork sausage with bacon-garlic mayo and sage derby cheese


Filed under hot dog hunt, I like to eats