Slideshow: We Eat Everything at Hot Doug's

Hot Doug's
Hot Doug's
Ever since Serious Eats Chicago launched last year, we've been dreaming of eating every single item at Hot Doug's. This past weekend we finally made it happen.
The Dog: Chicago-Style Hot Dog ($2.00)
The Dog: Chicago-Style Hot Dog ($2.00)
You almost feel compelled to try the Chicago-Style Hot Dog because Hot Doug's name is derived from a clever pun on "hot dog." I consider it the best palate cleanser you're going to get in the sausage superstore. You can debate whether it's the best hot dog in in all of Chicago, but those who have never had a Chicago-Style hot dog will not be disappointed. A steamed natural casing hot dog is stuffed in a soft, poppy-seed bun and topped with fresh tomatoes, Slimer-green relish, a crisp pickle, spicy mustard, and sport peppers. The only flourish that sets this apart from other Chicago-style hot dogs is the addition of caramelized onions. —Carol Hilker

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

The Elvis: Polish Sausage ($3.00)
The Elvis: Polish Sausage ($3.00)
Womanizing aside, by all accounts "The King" was said to have been a very humble guy. I think he'd be honored by Hot Doug's interpretation of him and proclaim this "smoked and savory" sausage to be his favorite Polish. That being said, I would agree with my fictional Elvis' opinion—this is also my favorite Polish sausage. If you were always the kid who preferred the hickory-smoked, mildly spicy beef profile of the Polish to the hot dog, this is your dream.—Carol Hilker

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

The Sal Tessio: Italian Sausage ($3.50)
The Sal Tessio: Italian Sausage ($3.50)
The Sal Tessio comes with enough of a twist to make it a fresh take on the usual Italian sausage. The first thing that hits you is the mustard, which holds its ground in the midst of some other pretty serious flavors, like the judiciously applied caramelized onions and the more than generous giardiniera, which effectively augments the spices and heat within the sausage.—Lindsey Becker

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

The Anna Kendrick: Fire Dog ($3.00)
The Anna Kendrick: Fire Dog ($3.00)
Basically a Chicago-style dog made with a spicier hot dog. The dish was advertised as being "mighty hot!" so I was expecting it to really hit you in the first bite, but it's more of the kind of heat that slowly builds as you eat.—Debbie Carlos

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

The Brigitte Bardot: Andouille Sausage ($4.00)
The Brigitte Bardot: Andouille Sausage ($4.00)
Though this sausage didn't deliver much heat, it's still a nicely-flavored pork link. With caramelized onions, mustard, and a pickle on top, there's a balance between the crunchy and soft textures, and the sweet and spiced flavors.—Amy Cavanaugh

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

The Joe Strummer: Vegetarian Dog ($3.00)
The Joe Strummer: Vegetarian Dog ($3.00)
Who goes to Hot Doug's and orders a veggie dog? We're not entirely sure, either. It's topped with all the fixin's of a classic Chicago dog, which, if you don't think too much about what you're chewing, almost conceal the strange texture of this meatless wonder. While the salty flavor of a hot dog is almost there, the casing has no snap and the interior isn't fooling anyone. Vegetarians, just go with a double order of fries and tots.—Kate Bernot

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

The Steve Swisher: Chicken Sausage ($3.50)
The Steve Swisher: Chicken Sausage ($3.50)
Though often tagged as a "healthy" sausage option, this chicken sausage is nothing of the sort. Instead, it's creamy and succulent, standing up proudly to the more respected sausages on the menu. It's labeled as "Sante Fe-style", but the spice isn't overwhelming. Luckily, the sharp mustard helps and some zing to each bite.—Nick Kindelsperger

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

The Dave Pound: Corn Dog ($1.50)
The Dave Pound: Corn Dog ($1.50)
Corn dogs should be taken as seriously as any encased meat, and thankfully, that's true at Hot Doug's. Not too much to say here—it's a basic frankfurter surrounded by batter, and then deep-fried—but it's executed particularly well, with the sausage maintaining its juiciness, and the batter tasting especially of corn and slightly sweet. No need for ketchup whatsoever.—Blake Royer

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

The Game of the Week: Ale and Chipotle Buffalo Sausage with Smokey Bacon Sauce and Sage Derby Cheese
The Game of the Week: Ale and Chipotle Buffalo Sausage with Smokey Bacon Sauce and Sage Derby Cheese
Think of this dog as British pub fare, upgraded. The earthy, smoky buffalo sausage—spiked with ale and chipotle—has a pleasantly crumbly interior with a nice, crispy skin. The blanket of bacon sauce and tangy sage derby cheese lends additional depth and a creaminess to the textural balance. Cheers to that!—Roger Kamholz

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

The Eugene Ferkauf, Smoked Shrimp and Pork Sausage with Creole Mustard, Hominy Grits and Goat Cheese
The Eugene Ferkauf, Smoked Shrimp and Pork Sausage with Creole Mustard, Hominy Grits and Goat Cheese
This sausage basically reverses the proportions of shrimp and grits found in the traditional Southern dish. The grits and goat cheese tone down the heavily smoked sausage while adding a welcome tang, and the creole mustard adds complementary spices.—Amy Cavanaugh

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Pork Loukaniko with Artichoke Raita, Kalamata Olives & Feta Cheese ($8.00)
Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Pork Loukaniko with Artichoke Raita, Kalamata Olives & Feta Cheese ($8.00)
Greeks invented a lot of important stuff: democracy, the Pythagorean theorem, and the Loukaniko pork sausage. Hot Doug's tops the lean, slightly spicy meat with briny olives and copious chunks of Feta, making it taste like a salty, porcine Greek salad. The artichoke raita gets a little lost in the shuffle, but that just means the crumbly, herbed sausage gets more time in the spotlight.—Kate Bernot

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Spicy Thai Chicken Sausage with Sriracha Mustard, Sesame-Seaweed Salad and Duck Cracklings ($8.00)
Spicy Thai Chicken Sausage with Sriracha Mustard, Sesame-Seaweed Salad and Duck Cracklings ($8.00)
For the most part, Hot Doug's sticks to American and European flavors with their creations; it's rare to see anything Asian on the menu. This rather strange sausage, a relatively lean chicken link, has some kick and funk. The strangely delicious sriracha mustard (combining both capsaicin and horseradish-style spiciness) is slathered along the side, while a seaweed salad adds a vegetal crunch and color. The duck cracklings are as marvelous as they sound.—Blake Royer

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

Ribeye Steak Sausage with Horseradish Cream, Maple-Smoked Cheddar Cheese & Crispy Fried Onions ($8)
Ribeye Steak Sausage with Horseradish Cream, Maple-Smoked Cheddar Cheese & Crispy Fried Onions ($8)
If you want a subtle, gourmet sausage, the Ribeye is your haute dog. It's a contemplative mix of mild flavors, with a bark bigger than their bite: the horseradish cream is not at all overpowering, but instead melds well with the maple-smoked cheddar to lend a creaminess to the beefy sausage. A few crispy fried onions sprinkled on top provide a welcome textural novelty.—Lindsey Becker

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

The Sonoran Dog: Jalapeno and Cheddar Beef Hot Dog with Jalapeno Mayonnaise & Jalapeno Bacon ($6.00)
The Sonoran Dog: Jalapeno and Cheddar Beef Hot Dog with Jalapeno Mayonnaise & Jalapeno Bacon ($6.00)
Like a Mexican soap opera, Doug's Sonoran Dog is fiery, gorgeous, and full of surprises. At the center: a crispy-skinned, well-spiced jalapeño-and-cheddar beef hot dog. On top: creamy jalapeño mayo, rich pinto beans, fresh onions, and juicy tomatoes that taste like they've been cross-pollenated with fragrant dill. Oh yeah, and a strip of jalapeño bacon that's so gloriously crispy, it's almost effervescent. But even with some big personalities, this cast gets along great.—Roger Kamholz

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Merguez Lamb Sausage with Mint Dijonnaise and Chaubier Cheese ($8.00)
Merguez Lamb Sausage with Mint Dijonnaise and Chaubier Cheese ($8.00)
With just enough of fennel, paprika and heat, this is an elegant rendition of merguez. What really makes this sausage sing, however, is the bright mint Dijonnaise and Chaubier cheese, which play off the spice so well.—Huge Galdones

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

Irish Banger with Guinness Mustard and Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese ($7.50)
Irish Banger with Guinness Mustard and Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese ($7.50)
The tender and juicy sausage has a good pork flavor and nice snap. I liked how the bitterness of the Guinness came through in the mustard, which really balanced out the meat and the cheese.—Debbie Carlos

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Smoked Portuguese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Aged Iberico Cheese ($7.50)
Smoked Portuguese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Aged Iberico Cheese ($7.50)
I have only made a Saffron Rouille once, and it certainly was not for a sausage. But this is absolutely genius. Linguica is Portugese smoke-cured pork sausage that is seasoned with garlic and paprika. The sausage is served on a soft white bun with Saffron Rouille and topped with aged Iberico cheese. It is not only my favorite thing on the menu, but it is currently my favorite sausage in Chicago. The flavors just come together so perfectly.—Carol Hilker

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Fresh-Cut French Fries ($1.50, small)
Fresh-Cut French Fries ($1.50, small)
These are the standard. Freshly cut, with a creamy interior, surrounded by a browned and crispy shell. The sausages are the main star here, but no visit quite feels complete without an order of these.—Nick Kindelsperger

[Photograph: Debbie Carlos]

Cheese Fries ($2.25)
Cheese Fries ($2.25)
If you can't help but gild the lily a bit, the cheese fries are the one indulgence you can tack on. But even with something as basic cheese sauce, Hot Doug's still does it right. This mild and creamy cheese sauce is at the perfect molten temperature to drip down and coat the fries—no clumpy, congealed cheese here.—Nick Kindelsperger

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Duck Fat Fries ($3.50)
Duck Fat Fries ($3.50)
But on Fridays and Saturdays, you can defiantly skip by the regular fries and head straight for the duck fat fries. Honestly, the differences are slight, and we didn't have enough time to firmly crown the winner. Instead, we decided to leave this battle for another day, which means that we'll obviously have to plan a return trip. We may have tried everything on the menu, but you can't keep us away for too long.—Nick Kindelsperger

[Photograph: Blake Royer]