Spud and I recently went to Chicago for the weekend to visit our friends Pam and Sonal and of course to eat some of the Windy City’s signature dishes. Sonal took us on this adventure to Hot Doug’s in the north end of the city. After battling trains, subways, buses and cars to reach our destination, the line outside Doug’s wrapped around the corner. Most people would be put off by traveling almost 2 hours to reach a hot dog joint and having to wait another hour on line, but I was very excited, because I knew it would be good, really, really good. You see, New Yorkers are used to ridiculous lines for everything (Duane Reade, subway platforms), but in other places a line means that it will be worth the wait.

Hot Doug’s: The Sausage Superstore

It was. Doug himself is a super nice guy and sells super incredible dogs. Check out the crazy combos below. I have never seen anything like this. We ordered the traditional Chicago with the pickle spear and relish and other fixins, as well as the corn dog and both were delicious dogs. But the real action here is with the other two we had. One was the Teuben, a take on the Reuben with a corned beef dog topped with swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The other was the Turducken Sausage which had a dog of turkey, duck and chicken, topped with – get this- bacon sauce, venison pate cubes and mustard seed gouda seeds. Doug is a mad genius! Hot Doug’s has the best hot dogs I have ever eaten. Yes, I said that.

Bacino’s Pizza

That very night, after our dogs digested, Pam took us for Chicago-style deep dish pizza. We knew about the famous places, Giordano’s and Gino’s East, but didn’t feel like long lines and places that had a reputation for overly cheesy and grease laden pizza. We decided on Bacino’s and boy was it the right choice! We ordered the deep dish with peppers, onions and sausage and it was so big that the three of us could only eat 3/4 quarters of it. The genius of this style pizza is that the sauce is on top all by itself. I think sauce is the overlooked part of the pizza, but this one puts it on a pedestal and it works. The cheese is a nice thick layer between the crusts, so everything get balanced perfectly. Pam did an amazing job suggesting this winner. I am not saying it beats NYC thin crust, but it really is a whole different animal and there is definitely room on our culinary roster for both types.

I will be happy to return to Chicago for more time with good friends and good eats.