I joined a pack of like-minded food obsessives on a hot dog crawl last week, while I was in Chicago at IACP (the annual conference put on, by and for the International Association of Culinary Professionals. We piled in a large taxi and sped off in the direction of Hot Doug’s, “The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium.” The line was not yet out the door when we arrived (although it was within 15 minutes, and this was just a Thursday afternoon). There are about a dozen dogs on Doug’s list, plus a big handful of specials—antelope sausage was featured the day we were there. I had “The Dog,” the basic Chicago-style dog with all the trimmings ($1.50)—a perfectly grilled link of “encased meat” in a fluffy, poppy-studded bun with yellow mustard, glowing green relish, tomato wedges and a skinny wedge of dill pickle—heaven! We also had the corn dog (almost as good as Jasper White’s Summer Shack Corn Dog), a tarragon-dressed rabbit dog, a brat and the aforementioned “game of the week” antelope dog. You can order your dogs char-grilled, steamed, deep-fried or fried and grilled—love that last option, and I’m still regretting not trying it. I also missed out on the rest of the mission: After sampling all of Doug’s dogs, plus the fries two ways, the only crawling I could do was back to the cab.
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