Hot Doug’s

When I heard that Hot Doug’s, the Sausage Superstore and a Chicago institution, is closing on October 3, I felt discouraged that I might not get to go. Weeks ago, my sister-in-law, Melissa, and brother Chris asked if we’d like to go together. Last Saturday we went. Here’s a (shortened) play-by-play of our experience–the 3.5 hour version might take awhile!

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Today is the day. Our pup George woke me up at 6:45 am. I was showered and ready for some encased meats by 10:30.

10:30 am: Go to the ATM because Hot Doug’s is cash only. Chris and Melissa pick us up, and we head north.

10:54 am: We arrive at Hot Doug’s. On California we only see a short line…then we turned the corner onto Roscoe. There they are: a line of people half a block down. Mind you, Hot Doug’s opened at 10:30 am.

11:15 am: I’m already restless. I walk over to Target a few blocks away. I needed a drink (Gatorade). And a snack (a banana). I walk back.

Noon: The sun is so hot, we get an umbrella from the car. The restaurant is giving hose water to those who need it. The ice cream truck is parked, and people can’t get enough water and ice cream.

1:30 pm: I’m starting to lose it. It’s like a marathon, and I worry I’m not strong enough. We are so close, but so far away. Doubting my decisions. Feeling dumb for waiting so long. Just outside the door…

2 pm: We are in the restaurant. It’s small, but strangely quiet and peaceful with lot of memorabilia, a very different scene from outside. If the line outside was hell, this is heaven. I’m staring at the menu; this sausage superstore has so many choices, like Polish, Bratwurst, Chicken, Italian, and vegetarian, plus daily specials like The Atomic Bomb, Shrimp ‘n Grits, and Hot Doug’s BLT. I’m salivating. Not only do you choose your sausage, you can choose how you want it cooked (chargrilled, boiled, or fried) and your toppings.

2:30 pm: We order with Doug. This man is so nice. If you dislike him or behave badly to him, there’s something wrong with you. Same goes with the rest of the staff.

I get the chargrilled bratwurst with caramelized onions and ketchup. I know this isn’t the most adventurous order (I leave that to my hubby), plus my first-ever corn dog (they’re kind of sweet? Who knew?), and duck fat fries to share. Nate gets three specialty dogs: One Third Pound Cheddar and Beer Pork Sausage, Hot Sauce Chicken Sausage, and Veal Saltimbocca Sausage.

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So, the ultimate question: Was it worth it? If you would have asked me while I was sweating in the hot summer sun, I would have said no. But once we got inside, I was so glad to be there. The end is near for this gem, and I can say I’ve been there, I’ve endured the line, and honestly enjoyed the delicious food. Oh, and I took my picture with Doug! (Did I mention how nice he is?) That said, I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal, and I’m okay with that. Just so glad I was a part of legacy.

Are you up to the challenge?!?

Hot Doug’s
3324 North California
Avondale

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Week #28 – The Bristol

My sister and nieces were recently in town for the past 3.5 weeks, which brought me to the burbs a lot (I miss them!). Needless to say, this Second City Gal majorly compensated this week with three nights-worth of new events (two restaurants and a concert). It’s a marathon, not a sprint, people! So here’s #1: The Bristol.

Nate and I couldn’t make it to our friend Jill’s kayaking party last Saturday (we had my niece Julia’s first birthday at Oberweis Dairy!), so Jill and I made plans to go out for dinner with our hubbies. Jill chose The Bristol, and a good choice it was!

I made a reservation for Wednesday at 7:30 pm, and it was pleasantly mellow when we walked it. The front windows were open to let the fresh, cool air of a beautiful summer night in, and the lights were dimmed to perfection.

I went to the restaurant with an idea of what I wanted to eat (lactose intolerants have to preview before arrival), but the cocktail menu caught me off guard. The drink combinations all sounded interesting to me, so I opted for the Ring the Belle (leblon cachaca, chartreuse, lime juice, honey syrup, fee’s peach), which was refreshing and delicious. Nate had the Lazy Suzanna (a bourbon drink), Jeremy stuck with Moscow Mules (my usual staple in that perfect copper cup), and Jill had a Dark and Stormy (looked pretty and tasted good!).

The Bristol is a shared plates restaurant with an eclectic menu of seasonal foods from Midwest farmers (here’s the menu). When we ordered our food, our waitress—who was very nice and attentive, by the way—suggested we get a bunch of starters, two pastas, and two main dishes. We opted for the apple salad, pork loin, cheese board, chitarra pasta, half chicken, and hanger steak. Oh yeah, and the duck fat fries! I think my favorites were the apple salad, the duck fat fries, the cocoa cardona goat’s milk cheese with this amazing marmalade pairing, and the chicken, which came with this perfectly salty spaetzle.

With this amount of food for four people we were all full, so we opted to skip dessert. When our waitress brought out four mouthwatering homemade Nutter Butter cookies and a candle for Jill, it was the perfect way to end a perfect dinner.

The Bristol
2152 N. Damen
Bucktown

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