Standing Room Only: Devil Dawgs


[Photos: Nick Kindelsperger]

Devil Dawgs

2147 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-281-4300
The Short Order: Smashed little burgers and natural casing hot dogs.
Want Fries with That? Absolutely, these are hand-cut and delicious
Want Ketchup? Comes with the burgers.

When I started the Standing Room Only column, it was mostly just an excuse to visit all of the old school stands that were still doing things right. You know, places like Jimmy's Red Hots and Gene and Jude's. But to my surprise, a number of new places are taking inspiration from all these places that I love while also adding a twist of their own. Take Devil Dawgs, a nearly flawless Chicago stand.

Though the joint feels like an establishment that could have been around since the Eisenhower administration, it actually opened in 2009 just steps away from DePaul's campus in Lincoln Park. But Devil Dawgs is the real deal, taking the time to hand-cut fries, use natural casing hot dogs, and cook fresh beef.

It's also a great stand because there literally is no indoor seating. In fact, it doesn't even have a place where you can stand and eat. A few picnic tables are stuck outside, but that's it. (By the way, did you see the snowfall this morning?)

Instead of Vienna Beef, this is one of a few stands in this area that is using natural casing Red Hot Chicago dogs, which are made on the South Side. Though it's missing the poppy seed bun, the Chicago-style hot dog ($2.50) is otherwise a pretty faithful recreation.

But that's not the only sausage on the menu. Though the Polish has been on the menu since the beginning, the stand recently added some items to its stripped down menu. That includes the 1/4 pound hot dog, which I got as a Blue Demons Dawg ($3.95). Featuring "devil sauce," sauteed onions, sauerkraut, pickle, and spicy mustard, it's fine, if not quite as great as the smaller natural casing dog.

On the other hand, the fries ($1.95), which are hand-cut and twice fried, are always worth ordering. Crunchy, but still full of potato flavor, these are some of the best fries I've had in the area.

But the real reason to visit Devil Dawgs is for the burgers. Looking like a love child between White Castle and Steak n' Shake, these tiny smashed burgers are housed in soft little buns which make ordering more than one a requirement. I always make sure to get the original single ($1.79), which comes with ketchup, mustard, and onions. Though likely to disappoint those who favor larger patties, these miniature guys are more my style.

But I have noticed that most people opt for the double. This time I decided to try the Double Kick Ass Burger ($2.99), which is basically just a green chile cheeseburger. Though completely unwieldy, the ridiculous mess is mostly worth the number of napkins I spent on it.

Mostly I'm just thrilled that stands like this continue to open, still take the time to do the important things (use real potatoes, smash their burgers), while flatly refusing to provide any of the usual customer comforts along the way.