Hot Doug’s was a Chicago institution for a number of reasons. There was owner Doug Sohn, who happily greeted every person who walked through his restaurant’s front door. There was the plethora of encased meat decorations that brightened up the decor. But most importantly of all? There were gourmet hot dogs and sausages galore.
As such, Hot Doug’s was the restaurant that began the gourmet hot dog revolution in Chicago. Sohn’s creation was the gold standard, the place that all other hot dog restaurants tried to be. And now that Doug Sohn has shuttered his doors? Frank Meats Patty is reportedly moving in to the old space at 3324 N. California, but, for now, this Examiner says to skip that, at least if you’re looking for a gourmet encased meat treat.
Rather, check out these three restaurants that, while not the same as Doug Sohn’s institution, have a hot dog menu worthy of a visit.
Franks ‘N’ Dawgs
1863 N. Clybourn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
It may be hard to believe, but this restaurant, that claims to have ‘five star dining on a bun,’ has even crazier menu combinations than Hot Doug’s (and yes, this is as gourmet as an encased meat can get). Plus, with just about every option nestled on a brioche bun? It’s hard to go wrong. That, and it doesn’t hurt that the menu is quite extensive, including such delicious eats as a Brunch Dog (made with Slagel Farms pork loin breakfast sausage), Tur-doggin (a turkey and date sausage topped with crispy duck confit), and, this Examiner’s favorite, Reuben Polaski (a Polish sausage topped with sauerkraut, potato cake, and more), just to name a few.
Chicago’s Dog House
816 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
This Lincoln Park restaurant may not have duck fat fries, but they do have frips (a cross between fries and chips). And those frips go quite well with their game sausages, like Chompers gourmet alligator sausage that comes with caramelized onions and sweet chili sauce, as well as their specialty dogs (think: Greek Town hot dog, for one), and classic dogs.
335 S. Franklin Ave.
Chicago, IL 60606
When you’re in the Loop, head to the Haute Sausage store front or find their traveling food truck. While the chef here, Joey Doren, once led the kitchen at Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, you’ll find another array of gourmet hot dog treats at Haute, including BBQ Boerewors (coriander beef & lamb farmer’s sausage), Buffa Blue Chicken (buttermilk chicken sausage served with, you guessed it, buffalo sauce), and El Puerco (a poblano cheese pork sausage), among others.
Will Hot Doug’s be missed? Of course. But with these three gourmet hot dog restaurants, at least you can satisfy your gourmet encased meat sausage craving — and not have to stand in a long line (yet).