Hot Dogs and burgers have gone upscale, and gourmet burgers and dogs are popping up in fine dining, casual dining, street food and even in vending machines. Hot Doug’s, in Chicago, is one of the most famous, upscale hot dog joints, serving dogs and sausages with every delicious combination you can imagine. The specials are incredible, combinations such as Calvados Smoked Duck Sausage with Morello Cherry Mustard and Goat Cheese, shows how far a traditional hot dog has come. All the dogs are served up with fries cooked in duck fat, which is something worth the two hours of standing in line! You can visit Hot Doug’s here, and if visiting Chicago be sure to check it out in person!
In my town, Austin, a new hot dog place has opened with some innovative flavor combinations. “Frank” has a great feel inside – it’s relaxing, laid back and welcoming.
No stuffiness can be found here, but great food is plentiful. They have many wild game offerings – I tried the Jackalope: local antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage, huckleberry compote, Sriracha aioli, and applewood smoked Cheddar. The flavor balance was perfect, and the sausage was lean and full of flavor. It was my favorite of the day. We also sampled the Notorious P.I.G.,
with house made pork, bacon, jalapeno, and sage sausage topped with macaroni & cheese and a Texas style BBQ sauce. It had a little too much going on for me, but the men in the group gave it the thumbs up. Next up was the Carolina Pork It, a Vienna beef sausage stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and deep fried (really), then topped with coleslaw and green chile pimento cheese. This was a heart attack waiting to happen, and one bite was delicious, but I’m not sure I could eat a whole dog and not feel guilty as my arteries hardened. Each sausage was completely unique and had great flavor before being topped, and the complementary additions only made them that much better. The side items were unique also, a rich corn dish
with grilled corn off the cob mixed with chili mayonnaise, lime juice, cilantro and Cotija cheese and house-made boudin fritters with hatch chili remoulade. We finished off the meal with a couple signature desserts, chocolate covered bacon and a chocolate chip, pecan, walnut, cranberry and bacon cookie. Neither were memorable, but they were unique and a good attempt to continue the bacon theme into desserts – not an easy task! Frank’s also has great local brews on tap and a nice bottled beer selection, as well as a list of specialty cocktails (even one with house made bacon infused vodka!) and craft sodas. They emphasize local ingredients and top quality, and deliver on flavor. Frank’s is another great addition to the eclectic food that can be found in Austin, if you are ever in town, I hope you stop by and enjoy a dog and a cold brew!