I’ve been traveling to Chicago for many many years and have always wanted to try Hot Doug’s, but I have never been able to make my way over it, because it’s located outside of the downtown Chicago area. I am going to get straight to the best thing from this place (as opposed to making you wait like I did in the line to try to this place, but more on that and why I was willing to endure the hour long wait later on down below.)
The Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage was hands down the best sausage we ordered and easily made it worth the wait. Honestly, I wish we had ordered three. It was topped with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel. It was seriously worth every cent of the $10 price tag. Not sure I could taste much duck flavor in the sausage as the creamy richness of the foie gras was utterly orgasmic, and nothing else really seemed to exist.
Despite all the press and notoriety that Doug has received over the years, the place doesn’t seem to be any fancier than it probably was when it first opened (not that I know this for a fact since this is my first visit.) The place just seems so low frills like any typical hot dog joint would be like, with colorful wall fixtures and cheekiness all around.
Seeing as there were just the 3 of us, Pdho, ElleC and myself, we decided to share 4 dogs between us. So in addition to the foie gras dog, we ordered two other sausages and the “Game of the Week”. The Pear, Wine and Fresh Herb Pork Sausage was topped with fig peach mayonnaise and jalapeño havarti cheese. This was just okay in spite of the toppings, but it probably is because the sausage itself wasn’t as good.
The Baked Ham Sausage was served with cherry mustard, mango salsa and smoked gouda cheese. It was slightly reminiscent of a holiday honey baked ham due to the fruity sweetness of the toppings. This was probably my second favorite one behind the fois gras dog.
The “Game of the Week” was a Rattlesnake Sausage which I was really dubious about ordering, but the reviews on Yelp seemed to consistently rave about it. The toppings included caramelized onion whipped mustard, cocoa cardona cheese, duck confit and black sea salt which all sounded very promising. Unfortunately, the gaminess of the sausage was too overpowering. I have to remember that I’m in the Midwest and game meat would be more popular than one would normally expect.
The reviews for the Duck Fat Fries were glowing. Although I found it hard to believe that fries fried in duck fat would be significantly more different than any other oil, ElleC seemed convinced and wanted to have 2 orders. The fries were hot and crispy but I really couldn’t discern much duck flavor. They were fine but nothing really special.
So the main reason I finally decided to endure the line to try this place was because I heard they were closing permanently in October. I couldn’t believe how a wildly successful eatery like Hot Doug’s could be closing, but I guess he just wants to move on. Pdho was really interested in checking it out as well and was willing to head over and start waiting before the place even opens. Keep in mind, Pdho cannot stand having to wait for food, but he was ready to go in the morning. We go there just before 10:30am and there was already a very healthy number of people waiting. The line steadily grew down the block and by the time, Hot Doug’s opened at 11am, it was not pretty. In total, by the time, we ordered, it took about 1 hour, and we got our food pretty shortly afterwards.
Doug, himself, was actually there taking our orders. He was very friendly and seemed so down to Earth. Who would imagine what a fortune this guy has probably amassed that would allow him to walk away from this without so much as a “what’s next” (at least not from what I can tell publicly).
All in all, I would say the wait was totally worth it for the Foie Gras Sausage alone. The other encased meats were pretty interesting even though they really paled in comparison after one bite of the Foie Gras one. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend heading over early and enduring the line to try this before it disappears forever. It is a Chicago institution that you’re going to want to experience at least once.
3324 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
PAFO Ratings for Hot Doug’s:
Ambiance 2½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 3½ stars