Hold the Beef: A Dog House Worth Being In

By John DiGilio in Food on Nov 15, 2011 8:40PM

Man cannot live by burgers alone. Regardless of whether they are made of meat or a veggie approximation, sometimes you need something a little different between your buns. Before anyone gets any prurient ideas, we are talking about hot dogs here - the other side of the quintessential American comfort food coin. Even vegetarians know that when you get tired of the same old flat patty, a little wiener can make for a nice change of pace. Sadly, when it comes to meatless eating, the sausage options tend to be far more limited. Luckily there is Chicago's Dog House, a veritable oasis in the desert of veggie wiener joints.

Chicago's Dog House is the real experience, folks. The menu is dedicated almost entirely to hot dogs and sausages. Though they do offer burgers and chicken, the star attraction here is the list of gut-busting classic and specialty dogs. Of course, the Chicago Style with its mustard, tomatoes, onions, relish, pickles, sport peppers, and celery salt is featured. From there, however, the sky is the limit. Feeling continental? Try a French Poodle. It is smothered in Brie, slices of pear, and Grey Poupon. Want a little spice in your life? Go for the Blue Demon with its blue cheese, celery, and fiery buffalo sauce. For you meat eaters, it gets even more exotic. The gourmet sausages are made from ingredients like elk, smoked duck, and even alligator. All of the wieners come in at under three dollars, with a gourmet sausage running about $6.50.

We popped in on a weekday evening hoping to satisfy a craving that many former meat eaters know all too well: We had a real hankering for hot dogs. One look at the sign outside advertising veggie dogs was all we needed to convince us that Chicago's Dog House was worth a visit. The Food Network banner that was also swinging from the awning was also no small incentive. Feeling a little culinary spurt of hometown pride, we ordered the Blago (a Chicago Style with ketchup added) and a Mayor Daley. The latter featured Irish cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and Dijon mustard. Both were delicious and closer to the "real wiener" experience than we had ever previously experienced. Sure, the consistency was different than the regular mish-mash-meat frank. But the taste was fully loaded and flavorful. We paired our pups with an order of the "frips", a golden brown cross between fries and chips, and ate ourselves into a hot dog driven stupor.

Suffice it to say that we are already looking forward to our next visit to Chicago's Dog House. In fact, we should make that plural - visits - as we anticipate many future returns. It is hard to find a meatless wiener experience like this anywhere else. For you meat eaters who are health-conscious, there is even a turkey dog. If the fake franks are any indication, the real meat links have got to be the bomb. Talk about turning the tables on an old turn of phrase. This is a dog house worth getting in!

Chicago's Dog House is located at 816 West Fullerton Avenue in Lincoln Park.