Alert readers will recall that I spent a good deal of time in 2015 exploring the coffee shops of Chicago. As I wrote in this post, I used this journey as an excuse to explore the neighborhoods of Chicago. Chicago is a big city and I was new here, so my love of good coffee gave me a reason to drive to Pilsen or Ravenswood. While sipping a latte, I had a chance to explore the neighborhood.
This year, I decided to repeat the exercising by exploring the city's famous hot dogs. If you have spent any time in Chicago, you know that the city is famous for 2 kinds of sausage: One is legendary "Chicago-Style" hot dog, which tops a regular hot dog with a variety of garnishes, including pickles, poppy seeds, onions, relish, and sport peppers. The other is the Maxwell Street Polish, which originated at Jim's Original in University Village and features spicy peppers and mustard on a polish sausage.
I used this list as a guide for my journey, which lasted several months.
My hot dog trek took me back to some of the same neighborhoods, but also landed me in a few more, including a visit to Fat Johnnie's Red Hots - a tiny weatherworn shack on the south side in a neighborhood that looked like it might be dangerous after dark.
Boring menus and mediocre food quality caused me to wonder why Gene & Jude's and Red Hot Ranch made the list, but I suspect they were included for their historical significance. Big & Little's also seemed an odd choice - not because the dogs aren't good, but because they are better known for their other offerings, such as fish tacos and po' boys.
Some highlights of my sausage survey were:
- The pickled tomato used by SuperDawg Drive-In
- The extra spicy peppers on the Polish Sausage at Jim's Original
- Chili on everything at Fat Johnnie's Red Hots.
- The fresh-tasting toppings at Byron's, Wolfy's, Fluky's, and a few others.
I've seen a good part of Chicago now, so I plan to take a break from these culinary pilgrimages; but I may start up again in the sprint - maybe chasing the best Chicago-style pizzas...