Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Adventurous Tastes Hits the Road: Chicago's Dog House

Today's post is written by Mr. AT, who joined me on a recent trip to Chicago.

In recent years, Chicago has gained a reputation as true foodie heaven, a culinary destination that offers some of the best examples of modern American cuisine. Still, when it comes to food, Chicago is probably best known for two dishes that you don't need to be a foodie to appreciate: hot dogs and pizza. Today's post is about our visit to one of the latest and greatest entries on the Chicago hot dog scene, Chicago's Dog House.

Our plans were to meet up with a friend who lives in Lincoln Park and hitch a ride to one of Chi-town's most renowned hot dog purveyors, Hot Doug's, but the traffic fallout from the annual Pride Parade was a bit of serendipity that led us to Chicago's Dog House, which opened in June. The modest exterior, wedged between a CVS and a McDonalds, gives way to a simple, clean corrugated steel decor inside, like a tiny Chipotle but with a tad more character.

The menu offers a variety of the traditional combined with house specials and gourmet sausages, similar to Hot Doug's. Opting to go with a little of everything, our trio ordered three traditional Chicago-style dogs combined with two specialty dogs, a gourmet sausage and a side of chips.

First and foremost, the Chicago dog. Disclaimer: though I'm a Midwesterner by birth, I'm no expert on Chicago dogs. That said, I've had more than a few in my life and I can say that the Chicago dog at the Dog House (below) was spectacular. The frank itself was perfectly cooked and had just the right firmness. The veggies were all crisp and flavorful and the bun did its job: holding everything together without making its presence known.

As for the specialty dogs, I ordered the T-Frank (left), which comes topped with bacon, cream cheese, avocado and hot sauce. This was definitely the winning wiener in my opinion. Rich and delicious, it's hard to go wrong with cream cheese and bacon in the same dish and the T-Frank was no exception.

Though I didn't get a chance to sample the bleu cheese and buffalo-sauced Blue Demon, our Chicago friend pronounced it to be a rousing success. I was a bit less ga-ga for the for the duck sausage (below right). Though it had some nice flavors, coming topped with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, caramelized onions and Dijon mustard, I didn't find the sausage to be as flavorful as a beef frank. Also, I found the larger bun to be obtrusive, making the concoction a bit unwieldy.

Finally, I have to mention the chips. They did not emerge from a bag, rather they were made right behind the counter, where one of the employees turned a crank, spinning the potato on a slicer. The long, wavy strands of starchy goodness were then immediately put into a deep fryer. While not particularly crisp, having just come out of the deep fryer, they were tasty and a nice side dish to the processed protein food fest in which we were indulging.

I would certainly recommend the Dog House to anybody looking for an as-of-yet crowd free, authentic Chicago hot dog experience. Sure, places like Hot Doug's or Wiener's Circle (pictured at right) are always good choices, but there's certainly room for more than one top dog in Chicago.

Chicago’s Dog House
816 W. Fullerton
, Chicago, IL

Chicagos Dog House on Urbanspoon



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