And that's exactly what's going on at Franks and Dawgs, where they spend a heck of a lot of time creating toppings and even making their own sausages.
One of the latest hot dog stands to open in the city has aspirations far beyond a typical Vienna with the works. At Lincoln Park's Franks and Dawgs, the emphasis is on homemade sausages with creative toppings.
"The fact that we're making our sausages in-house ourselves. The topping of ingredients that we're using in preparation of the hot dog; we're using restaurant quality ingredients and the bun that we're using. It's not typical of any bun," said Alexander Brunacci, the owner of Franks & Dawgs.
That is certainly true. It's a brioche-style bun from Nicole's in Chicago; they slice it down the middle, then griddle it on either side, kind of like an East Coast lobster roll bun. Inside that bun, a wide range of sausage: Their brat is topped with red cabbage, beer mustard and parsley.. while the curried beef sausage is crowned by a literal salad of coleslaw and oranges. The chicken Caesar begins with a grilled chicken sausage, which is then completely covered by romaine, black garlic, croutons and a Caesar mayo. Every month, a celebrity dog inspires the cooks. Their Foss dog is a shout-out to a local chef, and requires bacon, egg and maple mayo.
"The finished product though, I think, speaks for itself. When you put as much care into the type of ingredients we're sourcing and then in the way by pickling them ourselves, we're able to control the types of flavors," Brunacci said.
Take the Tur-dawgen, for example: turkey sausage, herbed garlic aioli, then shredded duck confit.. plus pickled carrots. Fries are obviously hand-cut and fried twice.. and Brunacci hopes customers will embrace the idea of a hot dog joint that reaches for the culinary heights.
"More people are trying to play around with comfort food to try to dress it up a little bit. With the hot dog, it's the most perfect vehicle for actual bringing, trying to do what we're doing with our concept. Which is actually bringing fine dining into the most common of all street foods," said Brunacci.
They also offer the all-beef kid-sized hot dogs - without the gourmet toppings.
Franks & Dawgs
1863 N. Clybourn Ave.