And why is all right with the world? Because (along with my friend and colleague Brett Foster) I had lunch today at Hot Doug’s, the “Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium.” The best Chicago dogs in the world may be had there, along with a magnificent Polish, and a range of, um, “specials.” Here’s the one I chose today, or rather that Doug chose for me (I like to trust the chef): Whiskey-Fennel Smoked Pork Sausage with Peppery Dijonnaise, Double Cream Champignon Cheese and Sel Gris. Seven bucks. Worthy of Charlie Trotter, and yet somehow still a hot dog. It can’t be explained, you just have to experience it.
We went today because on Fridays and Saturdays you can get your french fries — made from fresh just-sliced potatoes — cooked in duck fat. Yeah, duck fat. “We’re gonna get an order of the duck fat fries,” I told Doug. “Of course you are,” he replied. They were spectacular, as always.
We arrived a little after 11, trying to beat the lunch rush, which we did: there were only 25 or 30 people in line. By the time we were done the line stretched way down the block. When people ask me what they should do in Chicago, I tell then that there are a lot of cool things in Chicago — Wrigley Field, the Art Institute, the Field Museum, Millennium Park — but the one thing they should not miss is Hot Doug’s.