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Chicago Hot Dawgs (Dogs) in San Diego

Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 06:21 AM

Passing through O'Hare last month I grabbed a quick bite at a slightly dismal airport concession. We were in a hurry, but I needed to avoid as much of the in-flight meal as possible.

I'd heard of Chicago style hot dogs, and had tried one locally at Chicago on a Bun with reasonable results. Reasonable meaning it interested me beyond the usual- it had the bright green relish from Mars. It had been "dragged through the garden" with tomatoes, onions, dill pickle spear and had the signature celery salt. It was ok- I figured anything hot in a place that has something called the "lake effect" freezing one's spittle prior to leaving one's lips would be welcome, but the culinary heavens did not part or anything.

Until O'Hare.

This was truly a dawg of a different species. Just as four legs and a waggely tail does not define a dog, the components contained in the Chicago on a Bun version was, when compared to the O'Hare dog, like Toto vs. Rin Tin Tin.

I was in a hurry so I didn't take my typical copious notes nor whisk the specimen off to the lab (haha-lab), and it was not until I finished it that it's awesomeness truly hit me. I had just had an amazing culinary experience! Around I whirled, headed to the counter for another lap around my new gustatory racetrack- and they called our flight. So I have few details with which to describe the canine.

I noticed the outside casing had been scored on both sides. If I remember correctly, it may have been grilled, and meat had a definitive "oh, snap!" when I attacked it. But the flavor profile (see I type foodie and use terms like that) was a unique cadenza with which I'm now obsessed.

We returned to O'Hare two weeks later, salivating. I'd spent the fortnight's interlude in the world's finest restaurants- Italy and France. But couldn't shake the monkey firmly on my back that is the "Chicago Hot Dog".

We were in a different terminal this time, and despite running up and down the hallways like a soccer dad seeking a lost four year old, there was no sign of my portal to heaven; the slightly dismal airport concession. I settled into a bar and ordered their version.

Four legs and a waggley tail it certainly had. Relish from Mars, celery salt, tomato, onion dill pickle spear. But the heavens did not part, there was no cadenza. It was just another mutt. I dragged myself onto the plane and headed home.

So. Anything in San Diego I should try for that Rin Tin TIn of dawgs? I've tried Wolffys around the corner (4 legs, waggley tail) already.

Help me, please?

PS: I don't do the sport peppers. More heartburn I don't need, thanks.

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  1. c
    cstr RE: Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 06:25 AM

    Chic dogs are surely different, I still can't get over the food dyed neon green relish. Gota have the hot peppers for a kick! They are a tasty dog, don't tink you'll find them here. Ever try a NJ deep fried ripper? They're excellent.

    1. Beach Chick RE: Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 07:11 AM

      Did you notice if they had a 'turkey dog'.. ; )
      What kind of bun was that dawg on..love the celery salt and that it was dragged through a garden.
      There used to be a Sabrett's cart on 163 and Clairemont Mesa across from the Chevron.
      Excellent report and welcome home!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick
        Fake Name RE: Beach Chick Jul 27, 2010 07:52 AM

        "Did you notice if they had a 'turkey dog'.. ; )"

        Oh, sure. May I have pet fish but without any water?

        Why do you irk me so with these veggie options?

        1. re: Fake Name
          Beach Chick RE: Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 08:44 AM

          ; )

      2. Josh RE: Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 07:43 AM

        The Chicagoans I've met in SD typically cite Lefty's as being the best, vs. Chicago On A Bun.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Josh
          Fake Name RE: Josh Jul 27, 2010 07:47 AM

          Ooo. Lefty's is less than a mile away on foot. I could even take the dog!

          1. re: Fake Name
            Jenkay RE: Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 08:39 AM

            I second Lefty's! They're the closest thing to a real Chicago dog I've had here.

          2. re: Josh
            stevewag23 RE: Josh Jul 27, 2010 12:46 PM

            Chicago On A Bun had an ownership change a few years back and the place went downhill. The old couple that owned it were from Chicago. The new owners, not sure.

            Lefty's is way better than Chicago On A Bun now.

          3. foodiechick RE: Fake Name Jul 27, 2010 11:48 AM

            Your post has made me teary-eyed over the loss of Sluggo's, even though it closed several years ago. They carried all kinds of hot dogs, including a VERY "snappy" Chicago dog wiith the aforementioned Mars-green relish and other accoutrement. When they moved to their second, "upscale" location, it was a blast to order Chicago Dogs and beer, sit outside on the picnic tables in the back and watch the "then-champion" Bulls wipe the floor.

            4 Replies
            1. re: foodiechick
              Josh RE: foodiechick Jul 27, 2010 11:59 AM

              Try Lefty's - it kills Sluggo's, IMO.

              1. re: Josh
                foodiechick RE: Josh Jul 27, 2010 01:01 PM

                Ding, ding, ding. Coming from you, I consider that a ringing endorsement.

                1. re: foodiechick
                  Josh RE: foodiechick Jul 27, 2010 01:40 PM

                  When I was less discriminating about my meat eating, I was a big fan of Lefty's burgers and dogs. They have items they call char-cheddar burgers and dogs, which have some kind of a cheddar cheese spread involved. Seems like it's a Chi-town equivalent to the Cheese Wiz on cheesesteaks. No, not haute cuisine, but yes, definitely tasty.

                  1. re: Josh
                    shouzen RE: Josh Jul 27, 2010 02:02 PM

                    Getting that cheese spread melted over fresh fries is even better! Ah, it brings back memories of the Wiener Circle in Chicago...

            2. Fake Name RE: Fake Name Jul 28, 2010 07:45 PM

              Went to Lefty's Mission Hills today, and it appears to be the real deal. But I've had a cold and my olfactory sense is not currently up to par. I need to give this a few more tries. But here's a nice snappy.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Fake Name
                Josh RE: Fake Name Jul 28, 2010 10:36 PM

                It's a shame they have no veggie dogs.

                1. re: Josh
                  Fake Name RE: Josh Jul 29, 2010 12:02 AM

                  Et tĂș, Josh?

                  Grass-fed hot dogs maybe?

                  1. re: Fake Name
                    Josh RE: Fake Name Jul 29, 2010 02:34 AM

                    Homegrown's grass-fed dogs are good, but I doubt Lefty's will carry them. The Yves brand Veggie Dogs are a pretty good substitute (though also lacking the snappy casing).

                  2. re: Josh
                    foodiechick RE: Josh Jul 29, 2010 12:22 AM

                    I read recently that Home Grown Meats sells house-made, grass-fed beef hot dogs. Sadly, no snap-snap-snappy casing.

                2. Fake Name RE: Fake Name Aug 11, 2010 03:17 PM

                  I'm still working on this project. Numerous visits to both Lefty's and Wolffy's have been made in the interest of research and bringing you, fellow Chowhounds the report. I have discovered I like the Polish versions and, as of today, the Superdog (grilled!) versions over the regular.

                  I'm on it!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Fake Name
                    Josh RE: Fake Name Aug 11, 2010 04:24 PM

                    Has the char-cheddar dog placed anywhere in your findings?

                    1. re: Josh
                      Fake Name RE: Josh Aug 11, 2010 07:08 PM

                      I've not yet deviated from my set course. I've seen the char-cheddar offered at Lefty's, though.

                      Maybe. So far the winner, however is

                      oh, nevermind.

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