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Uppity Wisconsin - Progressive Webmasters

« UW Faculty Need to Unionize; March on Capitol | Main | Why We're Rooting for the Rockies »

October 10, 2007

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Steve Vokers

You lost all credibility on the issue when you misspelled "Damen" Avenue... ;-)

The best hot dog I ever had was from the trailer that used to be on Lawrence Avenue just west of Elston. The name of the place escapes me, but I'll never forget the taste of those dogs... I wonder if it is still there?

Anonymous

Best piece I ever read on this site...makes me want to go eat one right now!

http://www.hotdogchicagostyle.com/ratings.php

Mitch

Great and well written piece Paul! Besides the hack writer from the Isthmus, you should read the horrible attempt at a review by Jason Engelhart from the Badger Herald:
http://badgerherald.com/artsetc/2007/09/11/chicago_dog_arrives_.php

Jason is from Minnesota and clearly knows nothing about Chicago dogs. I should probably cut him a little slack since he's a student and still has much to learn.

George H.

I won't tell your cardiologist if you don't tell mine.

Adam

Hmm... Might have to check this place out.. I'm a Chicago area transplant and miss the dogs down there! My personal faves came from one of 3 places... Buddaki's on Damen in the Ravenswood neighborhood, Portillo's, or Hot Dog Richie's in suburban Palatine.

-A

Skip

Having grown up in Chicago, I am in complete agreement. I always thought the best dogs were from street vendors who had carts. There was one in front of Independence Park by Irving Park and Pulaski that was great.

Next should be a debate on the best Polish.

Another great artery clogger is the BLT on pita bread at the place at Irving Park and Kostner, methinks. They manage to get half a pig in a pita. Amazing.

bratwurstpages.com

Hmm, I wonder what would happen if you took a good bratwurst and dressed it in the fashion of the classic Chicago dog. Nah, the yellow mustard wouldn't cut it.

Jay

Well said, Paul. Honestly, the only restaurant critic from the Isthmus worth reading, IMHO, is Raphael Kadushin anyways. Linda Falkenstein makes just about any restaurant sound unappetizing.

As for my favorite places for a good hot dog, I'll second Budacki's on Damen and Lawrence. You can get TWO dogs, pomme frites, and a can of soda for $5.75!!! I loved Demon Dogs on Fullerton and Sheffield as a kid,(though it's closed due to the Brown Line expansion.) I also like Byron's on Irving Park.

Paul

A thank you to everyone who appreciates a fine hot dog.
To all who sent in suggested haunts, I appreciate it. You never know when traveling around Chicago, when you might need to stop for a quick fix.

Yes, mustard on a brat is as bad as catsup on a hot dog.

Jay mentions the pomme fites. That was another reason why the Madison folks got a B- and not a B; decent french fries are an automatic part of the order. If not wrapped with the hot dog, they should be dumped into a brown paper bag, salted and then shaken - harshly.

jim

Sadly, Chicago itself has lost its way when it comes to its greatest contribution to American cuisine. A "Chicago hot dog" restaurant at the new Midway Airport serves...yes, it's true... GRILLED hot dogs, claiming outrageously that this is "Chicago style."

It should be noted that there are subtle differences between South Side and North Side hot dogs. The finest on the South Side: Carl's, on jeffrey blvd. It was great in 1965, when I was in high school, and it's great today.

Madison had a brief flirtation with the Chicago dog in about 1968 with Abe's Red Hots, just off State Street. Not exactly authentic, but not bad, and they DELIVERED.

Keep up the good work, Paul.

Jim -- a Daily Cardinal reporter who covered your noble effort to get the Peterson Administration Building renamed Twombley hall.

Paul

Jim...thank you , thank you. I am forever in your debt. I was in dire straits this week trying to remember the name of the little stand that Dad took me to for our weekly fix. The one next to the Avalon Theater. It was Carl's!!!!

They must have moved since the late 1950's. The fries were wrapped with the hot dog after the first fold and then thrown into the paper bag. If you ordered several hot dogs, the fries were thrown into their own brown paper bag. Carl made sure there were enough tasty fresh french fries to advance heart disease at least a decade.


As for Abe's, you are correct. Their stint in the late 60's and early 70's is to this day, the best effort at a Chicago hot dog in Madison.

jim

Close to the Avalon, not next. A few blocks away. Carls was a tiny shack when I was growing up; a few years back it moved into a slightly larger place across the street. Still the same family operating it. I made the holy pilgrimage a few years back and felt spiritually refreshed.

They served the stuff in a paper bag; the fry grease soon left tantalizing splotches that made you realize life was worth living.

Dave

Now if we could only get a good Italian Beef!!!!

Brad

Thanks for the review. I'm one of the owners and I must say I was getting pretty discouraged with the local reviews. Reviews are great for keeping you on your toes and learning what other people think about your business. Unfortunately, I think the reviews we were getting came from people that had never had a true Chicago-style dog before. A few things we took from the comments we've been getting are being worked on as we speak.
We should be delivering within 2 weeks. We purchased a POS system with mapping software that should be usable by November 26th or 27th.
I'm trying to find a way to do fries. Our space is only 650 square feet and I have very few places for a hood, but we're trying.
Our soups and side menu has expanded, as well as our local favorites menu. These are sides and hot dog toppings that are regularly requested like the Wando Dog. This topping came from Wandos "Bacon Night" (bacon, cheese and onion).
Also, we do have Italian Beef and Italian Sausage. This is the same combination used at Johnny's in Chicago (Chi. Tribune Best Beef and Italian Sausage). We use Scala Beef and gravy and their Italian Sausage. The bun is a little crunchy on the crust and fluffy on the inside to absorb the gravy when dipped. We also use Scala Giardenera. Our Polish is the Vienna Maxwell St. original. The only thing we can't do at the moment is dirty onions with the Polish, which we've substituted for sauteed onions and peppers. We've tried to keep everything as authentic as possible and hope you enjoy our stand. Thanks for all the encouraging emails!
Please feel free to emal me directly via our website at http://www.maddogseatery.com/. Again, thanks for all the feedback. We use it all to help improve our service and offerings!
By the way, my favorite stands in Chicago are Flukys, Weiner Circle and a fairly new stand called Hot Doug's in Roscoe Village. Best Italian Beef bar none is Johnny's Beef on North Ave in Elmwood (around 7400). I get the combo (Italian beef with Italian Sausage and Hot Giardenera) and an Italian Ice. Brad

Annette

Maybe what I've read so far is a Chicago hot dog of this generation, but certainly not of ours (born 30's-West side Chicago).

We bought our hot dogs from a vendor who plyed his trade just outside of his garage (I kid you not!), on a side street! And there was always a line of people waiting, once he appeared with his cart. Never pushed it, didn't have to. Magically, the people just came running out of their flats...no special time or day...remember this was an Italian immigrant who didn't pay much attention to the clock!

He performed magic, while we happily watched and waited...salvating! He never said a word but with the deftness of a Japanese sword-wielding samurai would chip-chop the finest minced onions, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers...yes! cucumbers! He was an artist...a performer! We loved it! The high priest of hot dogs!

Fat, steamed hot dogs (Vienna all-beef) on warm poppy seed buns, mustard, piccalilli (relish), onions, tomatoes and cucumbers (no pickles (German?), no hot peppers, no celery salt (what was that?), just showered with salt and peper and presented on a square of thin parchment, like an offering to the gods. Heaven!

Annette

Maybe what I've read so far is a Chicago hot dog of this generation, but certainly not of ours (born 30's-West side Chicago).

We bought our hot dogs from a vendor who plyed his trade just outside of his garage (I kid you not!), on a side street! And there was always a line of people waiting, once he appeared with his cart. Never pushed it, didn't have to. Magically, the people just came running out of their flats...no special time or day...remember this was an Italian immigrant who didn't pay much attention to the clock!

He performed magic, while we happily watched and waited...salvating! He never said a word but with the deftness of a Japanese sword-wielding samurai would chip-chop the finest minced onions, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers...yes! cucumbers! He was an artist...a performer! We loved it! The high priest of hot dogs!

Fat, steamed hot dogs (Vienna all-beef) on warm poppy seed buns, mustard, piccalilli (relish), onions, tomatoes and cucumbers (no pickles (German?), no hot peppers, no celery salt (what was that?), just showered with salt and peper and presented on a square of thin parchment, like an offering to the gods. Heaven!

shardonia

Does anyone remember a hotdog vendor named John whose business was located at 1559 S. Kostner Avenue, Chicago, IL 60623, in the late 50's? Your help is greatly appreciated

Paul

shardonia: I don't know how much work you want to put into your quest but here is what I would do. Start with a Wright's or Polk's Street Directory from the years in question. By address it will give you who was located there. You might get a business and/or an individual's name. With that check with the business directory's of the period. As a last resort see who has the city of Chicago's restaurant license records from the Health Department (and hope they are not destroyed).

Eddieomens@cox.net

Carl's.....in the 50s......Very small place... warm steamy...The old guy ( it was Carl) who made the hotdogs wore glasses that were always so steamed up, I don't know how he could see to put the stuff on the hot dogs....He lined them up on a piece of wood that had door handles to keep the steamed buns in the corect position to dress them.....wraped in paper and a bunch of fries.....25 cents each.....Oh yes A nehi....Orange drink.....I wish I had a couple now....Eddie Omens in San Diego

Paul

Eddie - thanks for the reminder about the door handles at Carl's. That was our spot.

Eddie omens

Remember....Carl's glasses had a crack on the left lense...and he tilted his head so he could look over the top....only the tough guys ordered the peppers on the hot dogs....Oh do I remember. The fries were usually a little soggy, however the right amount of salt and grease!......be well Eddie in San diego

Paul

Eddie - thanks for taking time from your busy and demanding schedule to contribute to the memory of Carl and this important cultural icon.

Natalie

Paul, thanks for the review! Just moving to Wisconsin, we weren't sure where to find a decent hot dog. Have you ever tried a dog from Pete's Hot Dogs in Lily Lake, IL? You can't miss the little white shack and patriotic hot dog cutout right at Rte. 47 and 64. I grew up on them and I've not really found a dog that compared. Their fries (with the skins still on) are quite exceptional . I highly recommend it if you're ever out that far in the suburbs. I wish they had one in Wisconsin.

Kathie M

The best were from a guy named Pete on the south side at 70th and Washtenaw in front of St.Adrians's church and McKay school. Perfection,especialy the perfect steamed bun. Just mustard, relish and onions. Ate them almost every day.

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