Last week, hundreds of eager customers stood anxiously in line for hours, desperate to get into one storefront in Chicago. New iPhone launching? Hardly. This was the line to get the last batch of hot dogs from legendary "sausage superstore" Hot Doug's, which served its last link and final batch of duck fat fries last Friday, October 3. This TBT, we're mourning the end of an era by sharing an essay on this Illinois icon from 2009, written by Jamie Feldmar, now senior editor at Tasting Table.
Worth Waiting For: Hot Doug’s, Chicago
by Jamie Feldmar
Chicago is a sausage kind of town. Ever since the city’s 19th-century meatpacking heyday, we Chicagoans have appreciated a good link. And while hundreds of hot dog joints dot the city, only one has lines (literally) out the door: Hot Doug’s, “The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium.”
Hot Doug’s has all the standards: a Chicago-style dog complete with trimmings, the Elvis (“a Polish sausage, smoked and savory: just like the King”), and the Salma Hayek (“Formerly the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret: Andouille sausage—mighty, mighty hot!”). But owner Doug Sohn also turns out daily specials, like the foie gras and sauternes duck sausage with truffle aïoli, foie gras mousse, and sel gris that landed him with the city’s first foie gras ban fine in 2007. To top it all off, on weekends the french fries are cooked in duck fat.
Chicagoans and tourists alike line up around the block, down the street, and behind the restaurant to get a taste of Doug’s dogs. On Friday afternoons the wait usually approaches an hour, even in the depths of a Chicago winter. But no one seems to mind: once you’re inside, Doug, wearing his trademark Buddy Holly glasses, doles out sausages with a smile. My first bite of spicy Italian sausage with pesto Genovese, Roma tomatoes, and ricotta salata told me the wait had been worthwhile.