Places We Like: Hot Doug's in Chicago
By Matthew Rudy
The goal with Places We Like is simple: Get you to the places you just shouldn't miss when you take your next trip. This week's edition has a little more urgency. Wait too long and you'll miss your chance to have one of the world's great hot dogs.
Hot Doug's has been serving up delicious (and clever) encased meats and duck fat fries at its self-proclaimed Sausage Superstore in the Roscoe Village neighborhood of Chicago since 2001. I first wrote about it 2009, for a travel story about the drive from Chicago to Kohler, WI and Blackwolf Run. The menu includes a handful of staples--like the quintessential Chicago-Style hot dog with mustard, relish, tomato, pickle, chopped onion--and a rotating selection of "Celebrity Sausages" and specialty game dogs. This week, you could get the (former Chicago Bear) Trace Armstrong--kale and walnut pork sausage with sweet curry mustard and jalapeño havarti cheese, and a marsala, provolone and roasted garlic smoked wild boar sausage served with mostarda di frutta, black pepper brie and roasted garlic cloves.
Hot Doug (owner Doug Sohn) surprised everyone this week with an almost throwaway line on the restaurant's website mentioning that the shop would be closed over Memorial Day weekend--and closing for good October 3. Sohn is known for working the counter for virtually all of Hot Doug's open hours, so he's probably looking to put his feet up for awhile.
After the announcement, the usual 30-60 minute line out the door and down California Avenue has doubled. It's worth the wait, but you should carefully consider before stepping up for one of Sohn's most celebrated traditions. Anybody who gets a Hot Doug's logo tattooed on his or her body has gotten fed for free for life. Or at least until early October.