Hot Doug's an iconic hot dog joint

Chicago has dozens of hot dog joints, but there's only one Hot Doug's and the shop's namesake has written a book about his first 12 years in the business.
August 3, 2013 8:39:35 PM PDT
You'll find him holding court, pen and paper in hand, calling out orders all day long. He peppers his speech with an occasional "you got it," or "absolutely." Doug Sohn's namesake, Hot Doug's, is now not only an iconic encased meats emporium, it's also the subject of a new book compiling the joint's quirky history.

"To give the customers an outlet to sort of voice their stories and drawings and poems and haikus about it, and a big part of it was I wanted to get things down on paper before I completely forgot everything," said Sohn.

It all started due to Sohn's own longing for something from his childhood. And despite the elk, wild boar and duck sausages, topped with everything from spinach raita, sun-dried tomatoes and foie gras mousse, Sohn says it's hard to mess with the classic, and its seven holy ingredients.

"When done right, I think the Chicago hot dog is a great sandwich and it stands on its own and it's terrific," he said. "It's sweet, is savory; has hot and cold elements; has spicy elements to it, has that nice saltiness, has the sort of earthiness from the bun and the acidity from the tomatoes and the pickling of the sport peppers and the pickles and when it comes together I'm still..you know, I get asked about all the other sausages and I always recommend like, you know, if push comes to shove I'm picking the Chicago hot dog."

Now the hours at Hot Doug's a little bit quirky - 10:30 in the morning until four in the afternoon, Monday through Saturday - they're always closed on Sundays. And there is typically a line stretching all the way down the side of the building. But a little tip for you: come later in the week, like a Wednesday, Thursday or even Friday at about three in the afternoon - an hour before they close - you'll find it kind of like this, no line and not much waiting. By the way, Doug says he'll never open a second location; this is it.

Leave the plastic at home. Hot Doug's is cash only.

Hot Doug's
3324 N. California
773-279-9550
http://www.hotdougs.com/


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