It saddens me to acknowledge that Hot Doug’s, a famous landmark of the Chicago food scene, will be closing for good this October.
It also inconveniences me, because now that time is short it takes A ZILLION YEARS TO GET A HOT DOG OR SIMILARLY PACKAGED MELANGE OF MEATS. On my first visit (which I admit was only about a month ago, even though I have lived in Chicago for almost 5 years), it took the 3 of us present a full 4 hours to get through the line. Granted, it was a Saturday, and it was 12:30 pm aka prime lunch time. They also wait for everyone to sit down and eat — it’s not a grab n’ go type operation — and the place isn’t big.
(Don’t go on a Saturday. It’s not worth it. The only reason to go on a Saturday is if you literally cannot go ANY other day or if you are dying to try the duck fat fries, which are only offered Friday and Saturday. They tasted no different to me from regular fries, but what on earth would I know about duck fat.)
About halfway through the line, we started to get a bit loopy; there was talk of leapfrogging. We also took 3 hours and 45 minutes to realize that it was cash-only but that none of us had any, providing further evidence that graduate students have the survival skills of, like, a toddler.
Anyway, once we finally got there, it was totally worth it. I call myself a Pescetarian, but I decided that I could be a Flexitarian on this day BECAUSE THESE:
The one on the left, was a smoked crayfish and pork sausage with butter-and-herb sauce and blue cheese; the one on the right was escargot and guanciale with garlic butter and brie. When my sister came into town two weeks ago, I had one with roasted tomato, pesto aioli, and fresh mozzarella, as well as a veal sausage with fresh sage mustard, Jarlsberg cheese, and fried prosciutto. (It was also a Monday, so the wait was only 1 hour. SUCCESS.) They have all literally been the best hot dogs or sausages or any of the above that I have ever had.
If one of the specials appeals to you, GET IT. They are the most interesting and delicious things on the menu. Don’t bother with the regular dog or veggie dog; I hear they’re the only ones that are just bought, not made in house like the rest of the meats. There are also wackadoo things like rattlesnake sausage, smoked yak sausage, and alligator sausage, which can be fun if you like to eat adventurously. If you can get there, just go there. GO before it closes forever.
As an added bonus, Doug himself takes all the orders and is a delight.