12 May 2014

Make: 10 / Baby's First Foie Gras Hot Dog

Thanks for the photo, Andrew
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here on the blog, but hot dogs are a huge part of my relationship with Andrew. We have our favorite corn dogs at Five Star and Bangers & Lace, we ate Chubby Wieners under an umbrella in the rain at Riot Fest, he chastises me for occasionally sneaking a dab of ketchup onto my Chicago-style hot dog, and I chastised him for accidentally forgetting to refrigerate our hot dogs from Falatic's in Michigan. The first time I met Andrew's family, we went to Portillo's and Andrew's father was very impressed that I unabashedly ate not one, but two chili dogs in our meal.Yeah, we take our hot dogs very very seriously. 

After the "earth-shattering" news of Hot Doug's closing in October, Andrew and I decided that we better get our hot dogs in while we can. We blocked off Saturday morning, he made us a thermos of coffee, we armed ourselves with reading material, then walked the mile and a half to Hot Doug's to get in line. We arrived at 10:30 AM, opening time, greeted by a line that surpassed the alley. I optimistically thought we'd only be in line for an hour, but it was more like two and a half hours. We spent the day in the sun, I snacked on a mango chile paleta, read my Joan Didion book, and we ranked every single hot dog on the menu in hopes of narrowing down what we would order.

Once we were at the counter, Andrew animatedly exchanged words with Doug about punk bands I've never heard of, gossiping about live music and sneaking to the front of concerts, while I nodded on eagerly licking my lips at the meal to come. We ordered the famous foie gras dog, a porcini chicken Parmesan dog,  a "BLT" hot dog, a corn dog, and the famous duck fat fries. Yes, duck fat fries and foie gras in the same meal - groundbreaking stuff here. 

And then we chowed down. We chowed down hard. The foie gras dog was really heavy, but truly satisfying. I am glad Doug broke the rules to keep it on the menu, because it truly is a revelation. Creamy foie gras, fleur de sel, truffle mayo, an encased meat cooked to perfection. I don't know if I could eat a whole one myself, but getting to taste the famous dog on a beautiful Saturday afternoon made the wait well worth it. I've been dining at Hot Doug's since its inception in 2001, but have only waited in line a handful of times. The line might be one of the things I will miss the most when Doug's closes its doors in October. Because the line resembles much for than the dog itself. The line is a community of people who gather to dine at a place that makes a basic food something that is complex, rich, and exciting. The line is a place for people who are gathering for the same reason, to have that minute-long interaction with Doug that is impossible to encase, that friendly hello, that disapproval of wanting to put cheese on your duck fat fries, and Doug's ability to make hot dogs interesting, offering complex flavor combinations and unusual ingredients accessible for anyone interested in simply giving them a try.

Doug, I admire your courage to change the way we define the hot dog, and I thank you for taking the time and energy to make a place as special as this. I support you closing your doors, but know you will be missed. If I ever see you out and about, expect a hearty handshake, and even the offer that I may buy you lunch. 

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  1. I've never been so I have to plan a few days so I can try a mulitude of things. I'm NOT looking forward to a 2 1/2 hour wait. At least at Kuma's I'm drinking while I wait...

    1. Totally plan as many days as you can squeeze in! I usually stick with the Chicago dog and a corn dog (why mess with a classic) - but trying one of the more adventurous sausages has turned me into a convert. I say take a personal day (if you can) and go there with a book or crossword. Bring a friend. It's such a treat!!