The Chicago-style hot dog is arguably the most iconic encased meat associated with a major metropolis. Truly, in a meat-and-potatoes city like Chicago, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dog that wasn’t someone’s favorite. What's more, the Swami of weiners, Doug Sohn, holds court at Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium, ensuring Chicago’s reputation as center of the hot dog scene.
While there is no competing with Hot Doug’s draw for food lovers (foie gras hot dog, anyone?), there are those in the city attempting to elevate the humble wiener beyond mere Ball Park franks, store-brand buns, and yellow mustard — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Franks ‘n’ Dawgs in Lincoln Park is such a place, but instead of exclusively slinging hot dogs, they also serve serious sausage. The “Haute dawg” menu features artisan sausages made daily in-house, as well as locally sourced fixings. With a motto like “five-star dining on a bun,” you’d expect Franks ‘n’ Dawgs to up the ante, and thankfully, they do. The joint employs students from Chicago culinary schools and also hosts a monthly “Iron Dawg” recipe competition, pitting the recipes of customers and local chefs against each other, with winners scoring a spot on the menu.
Though it’s impossible to settle for just one haute dawg, there is a stand-out: The Tur-Doggin. Whether you are in the “the meat is the sandwich’s symphony” camp or the “bread as a canvas” bandwagon, there’s no disputing this is one heavy-hitting ‘wich. Franks ‘n’ Dawgs doesn’t skimp when it comes to ingredients. As such, all its dawgs start with a bun from Nicole’s Divine Crackers. The New England-style lobster roll is part bun, part brioche, and entirely delicious. Buttered and toasted, the Manna-like bread houses the dense turkey-and-date sausage, equal parts sweet and herbaceous. Any Chicagoan worth their salt knows that the sign of a good dog is the initial, satisfying snap of the meat’s casing; the snap on the Tur-Doggin is the stuff dreams are made of. But why stop there? Topping the sausage is a smattering of crispy duck confit and the housemade herb garlic aioli. Finally, the addition of pickled carrots and pickled onion relish lend an acidic note not unlike that of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Five-star dining on a bun indeed.
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