One of my highlights of visiting Chicago for the first time was waiting in a line for almost two hours to buy gourmet hot dogs and duck-fat fries from Hot Doug’s, the world famous sausage and encased meat emporium.
Hot Doug’s became famous for serving more than just the classic Chicago Style hot dog. He created sausages using exotic meat like wild boar and alligator, topped with ingredients like truffle aioli and foie gras.
Waiting for hours for these amazing hot dogs was definitely worth it, not just because of the delicious food at the end but because of the other amazing food recommendations that I got from other people in the line.
When I decided to attend Lollapalooza, the only downside to visiting Chicago again was that Hot Doug’s had closed their doors permanently in 2014.
I kept my hopes up that someone would recognize the huge vacuum in the hot dog market that came about due to Doug’s departure.
Lo and behold, someone did. Not just anyone, but two former chefs who got Doug’s blessings to continue his legacy of exotic hot dogs and duck-fat fries.
According to Doug Sohn “They’re total pros in the kitchen,” and “They made Hot Doug’s as much as a success as I did.”
I checked out the menu of their new restaurant; Hot “G” Dog and saw some of Hot Doug’s classics as well as some new innovative creations of their own.
GETTING TO HOT “G” DOG
Doug kept his establishment far outside of downtown Chicago. Could you imagine the length of the line if he was located in the downtown Loop?
Hot “G” Dog is also in uptown Chicago, just a few stops going North on the Red Line.
Baseball fans could check out Wrigley Field on the way to Hot “G” Dougs.
The ballpark offers daily tours but I was too hungry to even check out times so I just looked around and got back on the train.
As much as I wanted to try everything on the menu, I limited myself to four carefully selected Hot Dogs.
As much as I love duck fat fries, I’ve had them a few times before and I wanted to sample the hot dogs more than anything else.
It was difficult, but I managed to decide on four that stood out. These are the four that I tried from Hot “G” Dog:
CHICKEN BACON SAUSAGE
with Cheddar Sauce, Fried Tomato & Mozzarella Cheese
The sharp tomato flavor provides a nice contrast to the creamy cheese. Everything in this hot dog reminded me of a good cheese burger or really good pizza.
The hot dog seemed like a classic fast food mash-up; a hot dog inspired by a bacon cheeseburger pizza.
YAR PORK SAUSAGE
with Italian beer sauce with Marinated Mushrooms & Feta Cheese
The sausage was spicy and firm but it was a bit dry. The mushrooms and cheese gave it a tangy zest that overpowered the beer sauce. I’m glad this one was the biggest of the four that I ordered because it took a while to grow on me.
In the last few bites I really began to appreciate the combination of the slightly sour mushrooms and the spicy pork.
GARLIC VENISON SAUSAGE
with Dijon Mustard with Garlic, Cherry Peppers & Goat Cheese
I wasn’t really a fan of the cherry peppers so I ended up taking them out of the hot dog.
I love goat cheese and felt like the peppers were stealing the show from the cheese. Everything works well to create a tangy, garlic-flavor packed hot dog.
Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel
The duck sausage is perfect. Absolutely perfect. Charred on the outside, but still moist and flavorful on the inside. Years ago when I ordered Doug’s version if this with the sausage fried, he actually suggested that I take it grilled instead.
The mousse and aioli are extremely rich and creamy and packed with delicate flavors. Perfectly decadent. This was amazing at Hot Doug’s and it’s phenomenal here.
Some reviews of Hot “G” Doug went out of their way to find fault, like complaining that the sausage of the Chicago Dog feeling a bit loose and not having enough snap to the casing.
I feel like their food is so good, the only way to find fault is to actively look for it. In any case, even Hot Doug’s could never beat Portillo’s when it came to a perfect Chicago style hot dog.
The hot dogs that I tried gave me a nice balance.
Two of the hot dogs were decadent and rich, and these were my favorite because it felt like they somehow managed to capture a gourmet meal in a humble street food.
The other two were amazing for a different reason, they captured the “dragged through the garden” element of the Chicago Dog and even had a tangy ingredients to replace the pickle slice and bright yellow mustard.
In this regard, Hot “G” Dog creates not just gourmet hot dogs, but gourmet hot dogs that are distinctly Chicago.
Is Hot “G” Dog better than Hot Doug’s?
It’s hard to tell since I haven’t had from the latter in so long.
At the very least, they’re just as good.
So far, there’s one major factor that makes Hot “G” Dog much better than Hot Doug’s, and that’s the fact that there’s virtually no line!