It takes a lot for a straight man to rave about another man’s sausages, but Hot Doug’s renowned Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium meets and exceeds all the national hype. Hot Doug’s gourmet sausage shop has received praise from my stomach to Anthony Bourdain and even the New York Times. Last week, we decided to check it out again.
We drove on a cold December day to this hot dog mecca on the north side only to be greeted by a long line when we attempted to enter. We clearly were not the only ones craving a lunchtime dog and after a few minutes waiting outside we were upgraded to the line inside. Yes! And I’m going to go ahead and call this cash-only establishment a truly unique place. Doug himself was taking orders at the cash register and even though the line was winding out the door, he was still super friendly. As we were directed to the next available table, we noticed the phrase painted on the wall, “There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘encased meats,’ my friend.” I can’t say that I disagree and by the looks of it, neither can his patrons.
It’s a casual neighborhood spot on California and Roscoe in Chicago, with miscellaneous hot dog paraphernalia adorning the walls(i.e. a sausage timeline or photo of Britney Spears dog in hand) Now this isn’t your typical hot dog stand so expect a wider range of prices ranging from $1.75 – $9.00 per dog/sausage.
Hot Doug’s is a sausage lover’s heaven. Doug has encased just about every kind of meat conceivable from rattlesnake to duck. Your standard hot dog and bratwurst are fixtures on the menu along with other more uncommon sausages like andouille and dare I say it a veggie dog. Yes, you heard me right, a veggie dog. It was a vegetarian who actually first recommended Hot Doug’s to me. These standard features all have creative names like the Salma Hayek mighty, mighty, mighty hot andouille sausage. However, it’s the gourmet sausages that truly define this unique sausage experience, and you have a lot to choose from. Doug has a daily special list of about 10 sausages that change at random every 10-12 days. And although you can order your typical chicago-style dog, the rest of these condiments aren’t your usual chicago fare. Foie gras, brie cheese, peach mayonaise, and truffled aioli are condiments typically reserved for a slightly pretensious gourmet restaurant but here they pair perfectly with each sausage . Of course no hot dog is complete without fries. Hot Doug’s fries are excellent, but for a real treat try the fries on Saturday’s and Sundays when they are fried in duck fat (the tastiest form of fat fat according to french culinary standards).
We satisfied our hot dog craving with the following three sausages:
1. Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris
2. The Spicy Jerk Pork Sausage with Spicy White Peach Mayonnaise, Creme de Brie Cheese and Roasted Plantains
3. The Paul Kelly(aka bratwurst)
Each sausage had its own complexity of flavor starting from the seasoned meat, further amplified by the condiments. My mouth was overwhelmed with flavor from the rich foie gras and earthy truffle aioli. It was the most decadent bite of food I have had in recent memory. The spicy pork sausage was equally impressive complimented nicely by brie cheese and sweet fried plantains. Katie loved it. Need I say more?
Everyone should go there. Now. No seriously, leave work early(they close at 4), grab some cash and head on over there. Ok. wait… check their website first(they may be off on holiday) then leave. Also, try a special. Katie was hesitant but now she too believes in their special sausages.
Hot Dougs | 3324 N California Chicago IL 60618 | 773-279-9550