My Beef with Lam


The other day, my co-blogger Francis Lam extolled the virtues of the Chicago-style hot dog (which I’ll henceforth save myself the trouble of typing out and just refer to as a C-SHD). He did a commendable job of discussing some of the better-known places to get your dog “dragged through the garden” (a reference to the ungodly number of vegetal toppings on a standard C-SHD), but did a true disservice to you, the reader, by not mentioning Hot Doug’s, a place that is no mere hot dog joint. Hot Doug’s proudly—and rightly—calls itself an “encased meat emporium.” Only a place so devoted to all-things-tubesteak would feature two revisionist Magritte paintings in its bathroom—the one you see above, and a version of “The Son of Man” replacing its famous apple with a face-covering frankfurter.

In fact, Assistant Food Editor Andrea Albin and I made a recent trip to Chicago for the explicit purpose of going to Hot Doug’s. This is, after all, the first restaurant to get fined for offering foie gras on its menu (in the form of a “Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Sauce Moutarde and Armagnac-Truffle Chicken Mousse”) after Chicago’s foie ban went into effect. This is a restaurant that offers duck-fat French fries (Friday and Saturday only). And this is the restaurant that has, in my Midwestern opinion, the best C-SHD available anywhere.

But here’s the thing about Hot Doug’s. That incredible, perfect C-SHD, which is offered either boiled or grilled (when you ask for one of each, Doug’s simple reply: “Now that’s an order.”), isn’t even the best thing. In addition to the Chardonnay-Infused Rattlesnake Sausage, and the Chicken-Tequila Sausage with Mango Salsa, there’s also something that’s just so much better than everything ever. It’s something that is literally so breathtaking in its deliciousness that it’s downright shocking.

I speak of course of the Smoked Crawfish and Pork Sausage, topped with rémoulade and piled with aged Monterey Jack cheese. You can see it in the photo above, the top-most sausage. I don’t even know where to begin with this thing, but suffice it to say that during a two-day stretch that included dinner at Alinea and Charlie Trotter’s, that sausage might have been the best thing we ate all weekend.

Okay, okay, so that’s not even remotely true. Those restaurants absolutely blew our minds. But still, that crawfish sausage was crazy good.

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