12 November 2006

Guess what, NYC...Chicago has its Own Magnolia Bakery, Except It’s Not Cupcakes, It's Sausages!

Mushroom and Garden Vegetable Chicken Sausage
with Shiitake-Chevre Sauce and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

You may or may not be aware of the infamous Magnolia Bakery in NYC, whose charm and whose cupcakes are supposedly so irresistible that New Yorkers and tourists (mostly tourists) have been observed waiting in lines that that wrap around the corner and stretch for blocks. (thanks to Amateur Gourmet for the video link.)

Like many, I learned of Magnolia bakery when SNL's "Lazy Sunday" skit skyrocketed the bakery’s appeal to millions. I have not visited Magnolia Bakery, therefore I am not at liberty to comment on either the quality of the cupcakes or what makes this place such a sweet-tooth magnet. But - rumor has it that the cupcakes do not live up to the expectations of those who have waited in the line.

Well, there might not be as many people in Chicago as there are in NYC, but we certainly have an establishment whose wrap-around-the-corner-lines are worth the wait, and isn’t it fitting for our city that it is a restaurant that showcases ground meat?

Hot Doug’s
The Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium

“There are no two finer words in the English language than,
‘encased meats,’ my friend.”
-Secret Robbie

I feasted at Hot Doug’s for the first time yesterday, and I am simultaneously gladdened and saddened by the experience. I am gladdened, simply because Hot Doug’s exists, but I am saddened because I live on the opposite end of the city from Hot Doug’s, and forty minutes is too long to drive for a wiener, at least on a regular basis.

No, what am I saying? No distance is too far, and no wait is too long for these exceptional, gourmet sausages! Not only does Doug serve a wide assortment of sausage types, but the condiment combinations he dishes up are mouth-wateringly too good to be true.

Take a look at this Specials menu and tell me you wouldn’t experience difficulty choosing just one wiener from this list:

Go ahead, look me in the eye and tell me you would rather eat a cupcake than “Portugese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Romao Sheep's Milk Cheese.”

Portugese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Romao Sheep's Milk Cheese

What is linguica? Why, I'm glad you asked. It is Portugese sausage that is seasoned with onions, garlic, and paprika. What’s a rouille? I can tell you that, too. It’s a sauce that consists of olive oil with bread or breadcrumbs with spices.

If 'linguica' and 'rouille' were not previously in your vocabulary, than your epicurean lexicon was just improved by this vicarious e-visit to Chicago's fanciest hot dog joint.
Do you you think you could learn new words by eating cupcakes?
I think not.
Don't think I am smack-talking cupcakes. I enjoy a good cupcake now and then. But right now I so gastronomically elated about my meal at Hot Doug's that I cannot think about anything else, especially cupcakes, which are just distracting in general.

I left Hot Doug's with a happy heaviness in my belly, which was created not only by the best sausage experience of my life, but also by the heavenly duck fat fries. I hope there is duck fat in heaven. I also hope that in heaven, blood orange mustard cream is lovingly poured over gourmet sausages. I even hope there are cupcakes. I just hope you don’t have to wait in line for any of those things.

There's Doug, chatting with a customer behind his framed citation
from the city of Chicago warning him to stop serving foie gras.
Doug is a condiment genius AND he's sassy!

Saucisse de Toulouse with Blood Orange Mustard Cream, Fromage Chaume and Fwah Graa(TM) "Butter"

Smoked Rattlesnake Sausage with Apricot-Dijon Sauce and Blue Cheese
drizzled with Truffle Honey

The joint was packed!

Hot Doug’s
3324 North California
Chicago, IL 60618
Phone: (773) 279-9550

Hot Doug's even has its own theme song!


Anonymous said...

I'm blessed to work close enough to Hot Doug's that I can make it there and back (on a weekday) in under an hour.

Doug is a fantastic, funny, generous guy, and I love the man even more for continuing to serve foie gras in defiance of the ban.

innommable said...

I (HEART) HOT DOUG'S!!!! Especially the fries fried in DUCK FAT, and their DUCK SAUSAGE topped with FOIE GRAS!!! Try them together! YUMMERS!

Lauren said...

Hmmm, I'm a little confused by your reference to this NY bakery. Do you think Hot Doug's is worth the wait?

I DO!!!!


Cherry said...

Oh, the desire to eat in Chicago grows!

aria said...

how very fancy! omg they all look so good. i'd probably even go for the rattlesnake!

ann said...

i hope hot doug's is actually better than magnolia, because in my humble opinion, magnolia cupcakes SUCK.

the frosting is straight-up nasty... it tastes like gasoline smells... the only reason it's popular is because of sex & the city and snl, which, to be honest is cool with me, it leaves all the actually good bakeries line-free!

all ranting aside though, you guys make a very fine argument for me to jump on a plane this instant and head to chicago!

Erielle said...

Anonymous, you are so lucky! Maybe I should consider getting a new job so I can be closer to Hot Doug's.

Innommable, I will have to try that luxurious combination. Duck sausage? I cannot imagine how amazing that tastes. I'll keep my eye on the specials schedule. Thank goodness Doug updates it online!

Lauren, I absolutely think Hot Doug's is worth the wait! I'm glad you do too. I'm so hungry right now. I would an hour, I think.

Cherry, it's really nice to live in a city that has such great food.

Aria, I was surprised that I could try the rattlesnake. It made me feel a little queasy when I bit into it, but it was good. Sweet. I wonder how many rattlesnakes it takes to mage a rattlesnake sausage?

Ann, now I will definitely not go to Magnolia. Maybe I will walk by it and pretend I am on SNL. I'd be interested in hearing your recommendations for NYC bakeries, for the next time I am there.

ann said...

i'm your woman! i can't bake to save my life, so i'm a frequent habitue of bakeries... my favorite for awesome cupcakes is Sugar Sweet Sunshine on Rivington St. in the Lower East Side. they're frosting actually taste like butter and sugar, as opposed to shortening, and, it has star quotient. it's directly next door to an apt building where HBO is filming a reality kinda-version of melrose place, nyc-stylee!

freshair said...

Rattlesnake? I can see their shape would lend themselves to an oblong bun as long as it doesn't slither out one end as you take your first bite. Wait a minute, I'm thinking of the sweet shrimp at that cutting-edge San Diego sushi restaurant that was trying to dodge my chopsticks and crawl off my plate to head back to the ocean...
Unlike ordinary hotdogs that hiss when they're done, I suppose the rattlesnake finally stops hissing when it expires.

P.S. New Yorkers wait "on line" rather than "in line".

Shannon said...

Oh man, that makes me so mad I did not go there before I had to start a gluten free diet. A hot dog or sausage without a bun? Would it still be worth it? I'll have to call there and see if the sausages, themselves, are gluten free. If so, I am probably goin to have to make a stop.

Oh, and if you want a good cupcake try Swirlz. It is on Belden, near Lincoln. Nothing too fancy on their menu, but very tastey. Also, they make a gluten free and a sugar free cupcake every day. Vanilla Pomegranate...mmMmmm!