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Archive for the ‘Hot Dogs’ Category

Fatsos Last Stand Review – Chicago, IL

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Fatsos Last Stand Review Fatsos Last Stand, in Chicago west of the Loop, is retro and haute cuisine at the same time. Conceived as a neighborhood hot dog stand, the original owner committed to delivering the best of class food possible.

And he achieved it, with damned tasty burgers, Chicago style hot dogs, and fried shrimp (another Chicago staple).

I went with the “single Fatso with cheese” and my friend had a Chicago style dog; both were cooked on a grill that imparted a nice char flavor and texture, which will improve any food.

Fresh cut fries were the order of the day, only because I didn’t notice that they had cheese tots on the menu. DAMMIT.  (Scroll down for menu).

A lot of people compare this burger to In N Out, but I personally feel Fatso’s is a much better burger.  Shakes are also on offer.

Exceptional food all around, fun experience. Take the kids.

Fatso’s is in an area of town called “Ukrainian Village,” so there is a plethora of Russia restaurants, groceries and cathedrals.  It makes for an interesting urban adventure, walking around, checking out the shops until your appetite (or the charcoal grill aroma) pulls you in to Fatsos. (Easily accessible by mass transit, Damen or Division stops on the CTA Blue Line).

Fatsos Last Stand Review

Single Fatso, Chicago Dog, Fries

Fatsos Last Stand Review

Chicagoans eschew ketchup, so it’s a rarity to see

Fatsos Last Stand Review

Fatsos Menu

Fatsos Last Stand Review

Fatsos Menu

Fatso's Last Stand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Fatsos Last Stand Review

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Sheboygan Sausage Natural Casing Wiener Review

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Sheboygan Natural Casing Wiener Review From their site: Since 1933, Sheboygan Sausage Company has been crafting a wide array of sausages with all the Old World goodness our customers expect. Our products include natural casing wieners, bratwurst, Italian sausage, summer sausage, little smokies, and braunschweiger.

They make quality products, using old world recipes and is now part of American Foods Group, out of Kansas City.

I stumbled upon the ‘coarse grind’ natural casing wieners, and I’m glad I did.  I am a weenie snob, and always delighted to find a quality dog in a casing. Not too many stores stock natural casing hot dogs, as they represent less than 5% of the dogs sold in the U.S.

And the ingredient list for these is a dream: Pork, water, beef, salt, spices.  No filler. No corn syrup solids. No vegetable protein. A dog eater’s dream.

If you can find these, buy them. They’ll cost you. Whereas you can find some brands of “hot dogs” (usually with a lot of chicken or turkey as an ingredient) for a buck a pack or so, a package  of good natural casing wieners will cost you about a buck per dog. For my money, well worth it.

 

 

 

 

Sheboygan Sausage Natural Casing Wiener Review

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PJs Moon Doggies Review Glenview IL

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PJ Moon Doggies ReviewI don’t think anybody knows exactly how many hot dog stands there are in Chicago. It’s a well known fact that there are more than the total McDonalds, Wendys and Burger Kings combined.

Estimates vary between 1500 -2000.

In Chicago, a “hot dog stand” can take many forms, from street cart to brick and mortar carryout only, to full service restaurants, with most  having remarkably similar menus, hot dogs, burgers, sausage, Italian beef sandwiches, and gyros, and a majority of those items coming from just a few local suppliers: hot dogs and beef from Vienna Beef, gyros from Kronos.  Buns from Turano or S Rosens.

OK, so all these places have virtually the same menu and many use the same suppliers – what sets one apart from another? Well, geography is obvious, but also (to me) cleanliness, method and care of preparation, and attention paid to other contributing factors, like condiment suppliers.

Like I was at one the other day who offered “char-broiled” burgers. Nothing could be farther/further/more distant from the truth. The burger seemed like had been simmered in grease. Truly awful. Two bites.

But today I’m writing about one of the more distinctive ones, PJ Moon Doggies in Glenview, IL.  In addition to the aforementioned menu items, Moon Doggies also has ribs and chicken. Decor is 50s diner with a fully-loaded replica Wurlitzer jukebox. Counter service and daily specials.

I had their burger and fries and it was excellent. This one was actually char-broiled, was a very flavorful meat patty, great bun and fabulous pickle (an important thing for me).  Hot, crispy fries. Here’s their full menu.

I find myself in that part of the city about twice a year for one thing or another.  I’d stop again, for sure. You should think about it too.

PJ Moon Doggies Review
PJ's Moon Doggies Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
PJs Moon Doggies Review

PJs Moon Doggies Review

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Parkview Chorizo Smoked Sausage Review

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Parkview Chorizo ReviewChorizo is a type of pork and/or beef sausage which differs in different parts of the world. Spanish chorizo is a smoked, cured, sausage, often sliced and eaten like salami.

It’s seasoned with hot peppers and pimento. Chorizo found in Mexico and Mexican-American dishes in the US, tends to be ground meat and fattier. It generally doesn’t have the ‘heat’ that the Spanish variety does, as it uses a different kind of peppers.

In an effort to expand their market, traditional US sausage manufacturers like Johnsonville and Hillshire Farms, are adding different spice combinations to traditional smoked sausage (bun size), and giving them different varietal names, like Cajun Andouille, “New Orleans Style,” Polska Kielbasa, “Italian,” “Texas Hot Links” and so on. To me, there isn’t a whole helluva lot of difference in how they taste, and certainly they are all the same in the grind and texture of the non-natural casing.

“Parkview” is Aldi’s in-house brand of some of their sausage products, and I’ve written about quite a few of them before.

This week I noticed a new one “Chorizo Smoked Sausage,” and I picked it up to try. Like many of Aldi’s smoked sausage products, there are manufactured by Salm Partners in Denmark, WI.

As I referenced above, most of these types of smoked sausage are indistinguishable from each other, with the exception of a slight variation in taste. With the “Chorizo,” Parkview is heavy on the peppers, and this one is hot. Hotter than similar products.

Great on the grill or in a fry pan. I liked ’em.

Parkview Chorizo Review

 

 

 

 

Parkview Chorizo Smoked Sausage Review

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Wrigley Field Smokies Review

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Wrigley Field Smokies ReviewIn a nostalgic mood a couple years ago, the Chicago Cubs commissioned world famous Vienna Beef to bring back the Wrigley Field smokie sausage, using the original 1893 family recipe.

These puppies are pure beef with a secret combination of spices, and hickory smoked (Ingredient and nutrition panel below). They are substantial, and in the groceries, they are packed four to a 12 ounce package.

The smokies join the exciting menu of both traditional and local favorites at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

I like my sausages (that don’t have natural casings), with a little bit of char, either on the grill or in a cast iron skillet.  Adds a little more “bite” to the tactile experience. Most smoked sausages (Vienna’s included) are so flavorful, I don’t dare dilute the taste with tons of condiments, so I go with yellow mustard, and occasionally, kraut. And that’s how I adorned the Wrigley Field Smokies.

The sausage has a nice texture, it’s a very fine grind, and is mild but flavorful at the same time. It will remind you of the taste of old-fashioned franks. In other words, a bit stronger in flavor than most mass-market hot dogs, really delicious.  The sausages could probably use a more substantial bun than the usual hot dog bun, which is what I tried to get away with. They deserve quality Chicago rolls, like Rosen or Turano.

Check out Vienna Beef online to find a store near you or order direct. BTW?  They make the best deli counter corned beef and pastrami anywhere.

 

Wrigley Field Smokies Review

 

Wrigley Field Smokies Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrigley Field Smokies Review

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Riverside Coney Island Review, Monroe, LA

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Like most places in the country, there are signs of Spring in Louisiana.  We don’t really get a “Spring,” per se, tho, do we?  One day it’s the last day of our very short winter, and the next morning we’re into the “hot season.”  It’s upon us, 90 degree days, and 70 degree nights.  Gee, I guess that IS Spring compared to what the temps will be a few months from now.

So I told myself, “Self, what better way to celebrate than to go on a drive across this beautiful state or ours, and grab a hot dog or two on the road.”

I set out for Monroe, a city that had, heretofore, not witnessed my presence.  Prior to arriving at my Northern Louisiana destination, I had a wonderful day on the backgrounds of Louisiana, grabbing a burger in Baton Rouge, and making my way up thru the northeastern edge of Acadiana, where the primary crop that they grow is military installations.

I had chosen Monroe for only one reason:  to find out why this Louisiana burg of 50,000 had eight dining establishments with the name “Coney Island” as part of their signage.  “An influx of Greeks?” I mused. (A preponderance of ‘chili dog parlors’ I have visited in my life seemed to be owned by Greeks).  “Some local infatuation with the meal on a bun?”  “A shortage of other culinary curiousities?”

It’s an answer that eluded me, prior, during, and after my visit.  Seems the fine folks of Monroe may know the secret, but they ain’t talking.

Example:  I stopped in a Monroe gas station to ask if the attendant knew where the nearest “Coney Island” was?   He didn’t – but explained that he wasn’t from around here.  I asked where he was from.   “Well, I’m from West Monroe.”   So that explained everything.  He didn’t get “way over here” very much.

A customer, on the other hand, was very helpful.  I asked if he knew where a “Coney Island” restaurant was, and he responded “Are you looking for a crawfish boil?”   No, I explained, a hot dog.   He was able to supply directions to the Riverside Coney Island, but since his speech patterns quite resembled “Boomhauer” on “King of the Hill,” I found it more by luck, than by instruction.

Upon arriving, I had a revelation about the reason for the crawfish question.  As everyone knows, it’s the start of crawfish season in Louisiana, and it seems Monroe-ites are crazy about their crawfish. So crazy, they are willing to pay about four times what we pay in Southern Louisiana.  And the hot dog diner was awash with crawfish cravers, they even had built special tables for the occasion, which were round, somewhat resembled giant ashtrays, and had a hole in the center, where the table was perched (somewhat precariously) upon a garbage can where you could dump your shells, plates, napkins, and all. Clever.

The waitress found me, and said “Crawfish, hon?”  But she didn’t bat a false eyelash when I said, “No, I came for a coney.”   I ordered three, along with a root beer, and drooled in anticipation of what would surely be a nirvana dining experience – after all, why would they have so many Coney shops, if these little puppies weren’t pure “eden on a bun.”.

Yes, folks, get ready ……….. me, who seldom is heard to say a discouraging word……..states that these coneys were nuttin’ special.  Nor were they here  or at any of the other five places in Monroe.

Riverside Coney Island Review

Riverside Coney Island Review

Riverside Coney Island Review

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Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review

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Castleberry Hot Dog Chili SauceI’ve written quite  a bit about coney island style hot dogs, including my version of the origin of the dog, courtesy of American Coney in Detroit; my home town favorite in Duluth, MN, and some other regional versions like Nu-Way in Macon.  I’ve found very few ‘make at home’ preparations that I liked, today I picked up a can of Castleberry’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce.

Recipes for ‘coney sauce’ vary wildly around the country, from a pure meat-based sauce, to meat and beans, and in parts of the south, “hot dog sauce” takes the form of a red, watery, heavily onion-flavored topping.  There’s a region of Michigan were the primary component is beef hearts; other places I have been actually use ground hot dogs in their concoction.

Castleberry’s is made of beans, beef fat, water, tomato, mustard, salt, and other flavorings and colors.  In the can (pictured left) Castleberry’s resembles (to me) refried beans; the smell is reminiscent of vegetable beef soup.

It’s a ‘medium’ consistency, not particularly thin, not particularly thick.  The flavor is predominantly “chili-like’, meaning the cumin really comes through. It’s salty, as well, which is unusual for me to notice, as I am an ‘over-salter’.

Would I purchase it again? Possibly.  So far, though, my favorite “home-made” sauce comes from the dry packets of one of Cincinnati’s favorites, Skyline.

Castleberry says on their website they are the leading brand of hot dog chili sauce in America.  If you can’t find it near you, you can order online.

Finished product featured Milwaukee’s Usinger’s Beef/Pork franks in a lamb casing, garden onions, Plochman’s yellow mustard, and buns from Pan O Gold Bakery in St. Cloud, MN.

You can gets some Castleberry’s online from our little store.

If you’re a curious person like me, you’ve probably always wondered why there isn’t a mustard museum.  There is!  The National Mustard Museum is located just outside of Madison, WI. Open seven days.

Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce

Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review

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Dog n Suds

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From humble beginnings in Champaign, IL, in 1953, Dog n Suds grew to be one of the formidable fast food chains in the early 60s, peaking at over 600 locations in more than 30 states. The restaurant featured drive-up service, coney island style hot dogs, and ‘charco-broiled’ burgers.

A series of events, a couple of sales, and interest in new franchises waned, and shop after shop closed.

Today, the company is rebuilding, with about two dozen outlets, primarily in the Upper Midwest.  They’ve licensed their classic root beer formula, which was the original bedrock of their success, to Clover Bottling in Chicago, and Dog n Suds root beer is available in grocery stores in the Midwest.

I haven’t been to one for years….but I’m feeling it’s time for a road trip!

Dog n Suds

Mascot

 

Dog n Suds

Grand Opening New Franchise

Dog n Suds

Coney Island Hot Dogs

Dog n Suds

Bottled Root Beer

Dog n Suds

Menu

 

 

 

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Knollas Pizza Review – Wichita, KS

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Here’s one of those “best places in town” as touted by local media. I guess when you live in the town that Pizza Hut started, it doesn’t take too much of an effort for people to think you have a “good” pizza.

I had been itching to get here, because I had heard about the “coney island pizza,” thinking, wow, two of my favorite things, coney island hot dogs, and pizza, combined! This will be GREAT!

I ordered two small pies to go, the coney island, and the all meat, because I was hungry for pizza, and got the meat one as a back-up in case I didn’t like the coney pie.

The coney is topped with hot dogs, hot dog chili sauce, diced dill pickles and onion, and a swirl of yellow mustard.

Conceptually? Interesting. Reality? YUCK!

I tried one bite. Ewww. Tried rolling the slice, and pretending the crust was a hot dog bun. Ewwww. Offered the remaining pie to two homeless guys, they passed.

So I opened the meat box, and one couldn’t complain about the quantity of toppings. One could complain about the quality, however.

Nothing disturbs me more than picking up a slice, and having the entire top, cheese and toppings, slide off the crust into the box. OK, there’s one thing that disturbs me equally, as much, picking up a slice, and having all the toppings roll off into the box. Such was the case here. The sausage was akin to “Sysco Meat Crumbles #2” or some such. Lifeless, tasteless, and looking suspiciously, all by their lonesome in the box, like something a furry big eared animal might leave behind.

I’ll post a video later. For now, these pics, the coney and the meat pie. I always try to find the good in a place, and I thought a hand-tossed crust might be Knolla’s redemption, but even that fell flat. Lifeless was a word I used above, and I’d say it again about the crust. It just didn’t have any pizazz at all. A floury taste. Maybe they didn’t proof it.

The location I was at, pure carry-out, except one table in front, for two. They were very busy. Somebody obviously likes these pies; just not me.

I’m not posting a map, even.  They have four or more locations.  You can avoid all of them of your own volition.


Knolla's Pizza Cafe on Urbanspoon

Knollas Pizza Review

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StoneRidge Natural Casing Wieners Review

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StoneRidge Wieners ReviewI love hot dogs. In natural casings, please. The “purer” the better, IMHO. And I love to make them as “coney island style” hot dogs, which have nothing to do with the place Coney Island. A Coney Island hot dog is strictly an upper midwestern thing, popular in Michigan, Ohio, pockets of Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. By all accounts,they were invented by a Greek immigrant in Detroit in the early 1900s. BY some peculiarity, many coney island hot dog shops were started by, or are owned by Greek immigrants or their descendants.

While the ingredient recipe varies a little, basically a coney island hot dog is a natural casing wiener in a bun, with yellow mustard, diced onions, and meat sauce. Not ever to be confused with a “chili dog” as coney sauce is not chili.

My own personal coney sauce recipe is a winner – it took me years to perfect. For me, nothing makes a perfect coney, or hot dog any way you choose to cook or dress it – than a quality natural casing frank. They are hard to find, as we natural casing lovers only make up about 5% of the national hot dog buying public!

StoneRidge’s version is perfect, an ideal combination of pork and beef, with no fillers,  and the right spices and length of smoking to give it perfect flavor and just the right amount of “snap” when you bite into it. In other words, you want a dog that when you bite IT, it bites right back!

No matter how you choose to cook a natural casing wiener – on the grill, in hot water, on a griddle, low and slow is the key, lest you split the casing open and all the delicious meaty juiciness spills out! You don’t want that.

You can purchase StoneRidge’s exceptional hot dogs online, and pick up some other points and recipes on their Pinterest page!  Anyone who purchases online from StoneRidge this month will be automatically entered to buy $50 worth of products! Winner will be notified by email on March 1.

StoneRidge Wieners Review

                 Place your StoneRidge dog on mustard                                                         lathered bun

StoneRidge Wieners Review

                        Ladle on the coney sauce

StoneRidge Wieners Review

          Add diced onion and another swirl of mustard

 

 

 

 

 

 

StoneRidge Natural Casing Wieners Review

(Ed. Note:  StoneRidge furnished products for me to try)

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