When people find out I'm a food writer, they always ask me what my favorite restaurant is. I always respond that answering the question is like asking me who my favorite child is. I usually ask them what kind of food they're looking for and give them a top three list of options for that particular cuisine.

Truth is, though, if some hungry felon held me up at gunpoint and needed to know my top five favorite spots, Hot Doug's: The Sausage Superstore would absolutely make the list.

Owner Doug Sohn, a culinary school grad, brings his chops to bear on the humble hot dog. He serves the best Chicago style salad dog in the city. But, it's not the basic dog I come for. It's the duck fat fried French fries glistening with sea salt and the custom sausages with ridiculous luxury ingredients.

Some of the dogs are named after celebrities like Salma Hayek (hot andouille sausage) or the Elvis (The Elvis - Polish Sausage: "Smoked and savory - just like the King").

Sohn waved his foie gras dog at city health inspectors and was the first duck liver scofflaw to get fined in Chicago.

Yesterday, I discovered one of my favorite combos yet. Citrus burgundy pork sausage, topped with truffle mustard and blue cheese drizzled with honey. It was slightly gamey with a winey streak and a lip smacking orangey tang that cuts through fatty creamy stinky blue cheese tempered by the sweet kiss of honey. Finding better dressed charcuterie in Europe would be tough.

HOT DOUG'S

3324 North California, Chicago, IL 60618 (map)
773-279-9550

About the author: Michael Nagrant writes for Serious Eats from Chicago, where he also publishes Hungry magazine. Michael never met an organ meat he didn't like. He hopes to meet many more.

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