National Hot Dog Month is drawing to a close. It is our responsibility as good American and Chicago citizens to eat as many hot dogs as possible.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans will consume over 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Chicago is the home of the hot dog. No matter where it was supposedly invented or first served, Chicago put hot dogs on the culinary map in 1893. That is when two Austrian-Hungarian immigrants, Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany served their sausages on buns at the Columbian Exposition. They went on to found Vienna Beef and the rest is history.
Chicago even has its own resident hot dog historian, Dr. Bruce Kraig, professor emeritus at Roosevelt University.
The Chicago style dog came out of the Great Depression. Hot dog vendors put salad on top to make the snack a meal on a bun.
Chicago is a hot dog town. There are hot dog joints of all sizes, from small take away shacks to sit down restaurants.
For some reason hot dog carts are not seen as much as they were years ago.
Along comes a guy named Doug Sohn. Sohn, a classically trained chef, opened a gourmet hot dog joint. Chicago went nuts. Lines were a block long to get in. People did not mind the wait.
Sohn fought City Hall over the ridiculous Fois Gras ban. There is something marvelous about devouring coins of fois gras on a duck sausage hot dog.
Hot Dougs will be closing in October.
But never fear Chicago. If you want gourmet encased meat on a bun, chef Cliff Rome will make your taste buds pop.
Rome, who worked with chefs, Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali, operates H Dogs in Bronzeville.
The 'H' in H dogs is a tribute to Rome's mentor, Chicago real estate developer, Elzie Higginbottom, who loves chili dogs.
Chef Rome also operates Rome's Joy Catering and the Parkway Ballroom a few blocks north.
Reading the H Dogs menu causes salivation. Greek Town Dog with lamb sausage and tzatziki, the Frenchie with duck sausage, fruit mustard, and caramelized onions, or the Turducken Cobb Dog, turducken sausage with lettuce, tomato, turkey bacon, and bleu cheese dressing.
There is a vegetarian dog too.
For Italian sanguich aficionados, there is the Goodfella, an Italian beef and sausage combo, and the Wise Guy, an Italian beef sanguich.
There are other dogs, sandwiches, and burgers, including the Bronzeville Belly Buster, a one pound burger with the works.
H Dogs has salads, chili, and a kids menu.
H Dogs is not your typical fast food. Everything is cooked to order. There is a ten to fifteen minute wait for your meal. It is well worth it.
I ordered the Greek Town Dog. It was as good as or better than some gyros I've eaten. It was charred and there was a snap when I bit in. The dog was perfectly cooked. The tzaziki was right on the mark.
The fries are meticulously seasoned with pinches of salt or other flavorings. They are tossed in a stainless steel bowl to blend.
The people who work the kitchen are serious about their cooking and assembly.
Good things take time. My dog was well worth the 12 minutes it took to cook and assemble. It was cheap too. Dog, fries, and soft drink were just over eight bucks with tax.
H Dogs is located on the northeast corner of 47th and Martin Luther King Drive. Across the street is the Harold Washington Cultural Center.
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