Yes, all that food is for just the two of us. And yes, we ate it all. This was our first visit to the most famous hot dog place in Chicago, Hot Doug’s. Michael and I had heard so much about the place prior to our visit that our expectations were sky-high. And said expectations were met!
We enjoyed every minute of anticipation during our 75-minute wait in line….in 20-degree weather no less! Once inside and faced with the various hot dog choices, we were torn. So many excellent choices! We settled on five (yes, FIVE!) dogs, plus the infamous duck fat fries. Even though we knew we’d go back, we felt overwhelmed and had to over-order and over-eat. Totally worth it! Our order was received by none other than Doug Sohn himself. No calculator or cash register was used for the transaction. He quietly repeated the order to his line cooks and quoted us a price. How he added it up so quickly or even if the amount was right we’ll never know, but we were willing to pay the price!
I had the privelege of meeting Doug at a school event a few months back (Doug is a Kendall College graduate). The seminar was on the history of hot dogs. What I found most interesting about Doug was his seeming aversion to the common “the customer is always right” atttitude. Not only does he thrive on the fact that customers line up for hours outside his storefront for a dog, they follow him to the off-the-beaten-path location on Chicago’s north side. And his hours of operation are atypical, to say the least. Definitely double-check his website before you make the trek up there, because the restaurant is frequently closed. Doug only opens when he’s in town and makes the operation as convenient for him (and as inconvenient for the customer)….and still manages to have quite the following. His main revenue bump came a few years back during Chicago’s foie gras ban. He refused to stop serving his foie gras dog during the ban and suffered store closings and fines. Nevertheless, he kept trucking and took a nice ride on all that free advertising. Thanks to the ban (now lifted), Hot Doug’s is now a Chicago institution.
Pictured below (clockwise from top left): BLT dog,some sort of alligator sausage dog with goat cheese (the daily special), corn dog, Coke, the fois gras dog, a regular Chicago-style dog and of course duck fat fries. All were superb!