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Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review –


Rics Dog Gone Good Food ReviewI’m on a roll, lately I’ve hit quite a number of places that have exceeded my expectations, and there’s nothing wrong with that, at all!

Yesterday was no exception, when I was out in the NW Chicago burbs surveying changes that have occurred since we first moved to the idyllic town of Barrington in 1987. And the answer is LOTS. Like most everywhere in America these days, urban sprawl and strip malls have replaced farm fields.

But hey, that’s ok, one of those strip malls has given birth to “Ric’s Dog Gone Good Food.”

“Ric’s” is run by Howard, an outgoing, affable gent who greets customers the second they pull on the door handle. He’s as engaging as the lengthy menu. He did not explain who “Ric” is, but then I didn’t ask.

Menu selection ranges from Chicago style hot dogs via local legendary  quality supplier Vienna Beef, to chopped steak burgers, deli sandwiches, wraps, salads, and plated entrees.  Greek foods comes from another quality local supplier, Kronos.

Burgers start out with 1/3 pound hand-formed patty (diminutive size also available), and I went with one of Ric’s ‘specialty burgers’ – the Greek, where the beef patty is topped with feta and chopped Kalamata olives. Going all out into the Greek arena, I asked if I could please have some tzatziki on the side. Tzatziki is a Greek inspired sauce (or dip) made from yogurt, cucumbers, dill and garlic.

I had a mind to smear it on the burger, which I did, but discovered it’s an excellent alternative to Ranch as a fry dipping sauce.

On the subject of fries? Ric’s gives you five choices. Fresh cut, crinkles, seasoned curlys, cottage, and cheddar. Rings, battered ‘shrooms and cauliflower round the the fried sides menu. He also offers ‘skins and bakers.

I went with the fresh cut, which were an absolute joy, seriously, but I’ll have to go back to try the rings and cottage fries. Based on my first visit, well worth the trip. The fresh cut fries were piping hot, fried perfectly, lightly salted.

I have a habit of disassembling my burgers at the start, checking them out. It’s also important to me to taste the patty, unadulterated, as quality, flavorful beef has to be at the heart of every great burger.

I have to pause here, and say, in all seriousness, I’ve had burgers in probably 50 countries, for which I have spent anywhere from fifty cents to fifty dollars, and this is one of the finest patties I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Great beefy flavor. A great grind providing great texture in the bite experience. Lightly seasoned to complement the true beef taste.

(Don’t you hate biting into a fast food burger and realizing it could just as easily be called “fried protein puck”). Meats should taste like the animal they come from, and Ric’s fits the bill.

Toppings were top quality, both the creamy feta and the Greek olives. The bun was bakery soft, yet sturdy enough to hold any toppings you are to pile on your burger.

The restaurant and washrooms were sparkling. Beverage choices include fountain, cans, bottles, brewed ice tea and shakes.

The Google tells me the restaurant is 14.8 miles from my door, 27 minutes by car, an hour and a half by bike, or 5 hours walking.

I don’t have a bike. But I’d walk. You should to…or drive. Anyway, go there. Eat. Enjoy the food. Enjoy Howard.

In a city where there are a reported more than 1500 places selling hot dogs and Chicago fare, you sure have to admire the mom and pop outfits that slug it out every day in a crazy, competitive business segment.

They deserve our support.  Here’s the whole menu.

Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review

Greek Burger w/ Fresh Cut fries


Rics Dog Gone Good Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review


Fatsos Last Stand Review – Chicago, IL


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


National Hot Dog Day at Meatheads


July 23 each year is designated as “National Hot Dog Day,” (July is National Hot Dog Month!)  and why not? Each summer, during the “hot dog season” Americans consume 7 billion (yes, with a “B”) hot dogs between Memorial and Labor Day.

Meatheads, a fast growing burger chain in the Chicago area, serves their hot dogs “New England Style” which means the bun is more like a piece of toast in the shape of a bun, but not as crunchy, of course.

While many places had special hot dog deals for the “holiday,” I chose Meatheads because they serve the top quality dogs from Chicago’s Vienna Beef company.

I had mine with mustard and kraut, and a side of Meathead’s most excellent fries.

Check this company out. Locations. Menu.

National Hot Dog Deal Meatheads

Click to add a blog post for Meatheads on Zomato

National Hot Dog Day


Chicago, IL – Superdawg Drive In Review


For over sixty years, Superdawg has been serving up their special menu of hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes in Northwest Chicago.  It’s still run by the family of the founder, and I always appreciate that type of business and try to patronize them more often than not.

In virtually any list of the top hot dogs in the city, Superdawg makes the cut.  They have their own pet names for the menu items, and claim proprietary ingredients and seasoning.  Each “sandwich” comes in a special box with a mound of fries, terrific pickle spear, and even more terrific, half of a pickled green tomato.

I went with the “Supercheesie,”  their freshly ground burger under melted American cheese. The burgers come fully dressed to your specifications, with a couple of different options being rye bread in lieu of a traditional bun, and “piccalilli” or at least Superdawg’s interpretation of it.  The traditional piccalilli originated in England as a take off on “Indian pickles” and is comprised of diced pickles, vegetables and seasonings.   Superdawg’s is more akin to a sweet relish, something I don’t usually order, but went with it and was delightfully surprised at the outcome.  I did like it.

“Superfries” are crinkle cut, crispy, and nicely salted.  Other menu choices include their hot dog, polish, chicken tenders, tamales, assorted fried vegetables, and fountain treats, including most likely the best chocolate malted I have ever had anywhere,   They start with an entire pint of premium and work their magic from there.

The iconic stand with its hot dog character statues remains an outpost of carhop service, and some families turn a visit into a tailgating even, bringing their own tables and chairs.  Superdawg only has one other full-size location.  I’m not sure why, as this business, with its short menu and long track record of success, would have been perfect for major expansion or franchising.  It’s most certainly a better product than many chains.

The full Superdawg menu is here:

I used to include maps on every post, quit for awhile, but you’ve asked me to stick ’em in again.  So here’s how to get to Superdawg, accessible by Metra, off I-90 or I-94 (on the way to an from O’Hare, btw)

Superdawg Chicago Review

Family Tailgaters


Superdawg Chicago Review

Icon Rooftop Figures



Superdawg Chicago Review

Cheeseburger on Rye



Superdawg Drive-in on Urbanspoon
Superdawg Drive In Review


Algonquin, IL – Dante’s Burgers & Red Hots


(From 2014 on, no more burgers or dogs.  This is now a Mexican restaurant).

Been meaning to get out to Dante’s, but it’s a trek from the city. Rumor has it, rumor has it (Mrs. BDB’s favorite song) that Dante’s has the best fries in the NW burbs. You’ll get no argument from me on that. The small order was more than I could finish.

The “Merkt’s Cheese” Burger is popular in the Chicago burbs.  It involves slathering a gob of Merkt’s Cheddar Cheese Spread on the patty, and is usually topped by grilled onions.  Merkt’s is made in Southern Wisconsin, comes in a variety of flavors, and is the cheese spread all others aspire to live up to.  It’s 100% real cheese, and full of flavor.

I went with mine plain, wanting to enjoy the combination flavors of the meat and cheese spread.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The hand-formed burger, with smokey grilled flavor and appropriate grill marks, did not disappoint.  The tang of the sharp cheddar was a perfect compliment.

The bun had some egg in it, but didn’t lean towards “sweet” as many egg breads do.  It’s incredibly soft while being sturdy enough to hold the sandwich and fixins’.

Is Dante’s worth a drive?  We say yes.  Add the fact that they have Vienna Beef hot dogs, and it’s worth two trips.

Dante's Burgers & Red Hots

Dante's Burgers and Red Hots on Urbanspoon


Chicago, IL – Elephant & Castle Restaurant and Pub


Hailing  out of Vancouver, BC, originally, Elephant & Castle is a fast casual restaurant and bar chain with locations in major cities across the US and Canada. It’s named after a major road intersection in Central London. The company is currently based out of Boston, MA.

Burgerdogdaughter checked out the pub; the  menu features “woosed up” bar food, like Truffle/Parm Potato Chips, Fried Calamari with tzatziki dipping sauce, pub classics like Yorkshire Pudding, Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, and Fish and Chips.  Burgers, wraps, and sandwiches fill out the menu, plus an homage to their home country (Canada), several different versions of poutine.  The Slum Dog is a panko crusted beef hot dog, wrapped in a garlic naan, drizzled with a tomato curry sauce; carmelized onions, peppers, and spiced yogurt top it off.

Full bar, draft beers, pub atmosphere.

Elephant & Castle Calamari


Elephant & Castle on Urbanspoon


Barrington, IL – Couple of Stops


As my daughter approached grade school age, we looked around the spacious San Fernando Valley for a facility adequately challenging for her – having found none, and with daily smog alerts that made it nearly impossible for children to play outside, we packed up the house and went in search of Norman Rockwell-ville.

After a brief stop in Dallas for biz, we settled in Barrington, IL, one of the posher zip codes in the US of A, approximately 40 miles NW of downtown Chicago.  Why Barrington?  I had been in Chicago once for business, and had gotten ‘lost’ on a drive, ended up winding my way around Barrington and thought it looked lovely, with it’s hoity toity shops, ritzy restaurants, and mini manses on rolling hills.  It was, and remains so.

Moving there was about 85% successful for us.   The downside isn’t worth discussing, all in all, it’s a great town to raise a family, close to one of the greatest cities in the world, but far enough away that a family can do their best to try and protect their hatchlings from the world’s evils.

I passed through again recently, and not much has changed, though one would not expect much change to occur.  The names on some of the shops have changed, and there has been a modest amount of new construction – the wheels of change grind slowly in places like this.

One of the ‘new’ spots, is the first out of state branch of an Ohio supermarket chain, called “Heinen’s”, named for the founder’s family, which opened the doors in 1929 in Cleveland.

And what a perfect addition it is to Barrington, as fresh and lovely a grocery offering as you will ever see, equal to Whole Foods, not quite as spendy, and shelves and coolers stuffed full of the hoity-toity fixin’s Barrington families would clamor for.  The woman ahead of me in the check out purchased eight (8) seemingly nondescript items, less than one bag full, and “ker-ching!”  it rang up north of $160!   (I might have to take back that comment about being less pricey than Whole Foods).

Anyway, nice place.  If you’re around Cleveland, or Barrington, IL, and feel the need to buy some pretty groceries, check out Heinen’s.  Even the website is above par, with great recipes, and how-to videos.

At the “opposite end of the spectrum” as it were, on the way out of Barrington on US Highway 14,  which makes a mad dash for the even more distant burbs and eventually, Wisconsin, one first comes to the burg of Fox River Grove, home to, for as long as I can remember or have knowledge of, “Mr. Beefy’s”, a typical Chicago burger and hot dog joint.

Mr. Beefy’s manages to fine some pretty fine grub at very reasonable prices.  In addition to the “American fare”, one can also grab a gyro, or that Chicagoland favorite, an Italian beef.

As for the burgers?  Frozen 1/3 burgers are started on the flattop and finished on the char-broiler, and are pretty ample and tasty.  The bun was ultra fresh.  The cheese fries?  Guilty pleasure.  I don’t think that “cheese” has never been near a cow, but as it coursed (sloshed?  oozed?) through my veins, it was delicious!

Mr Beefy of FRG

Double Cheeseburger w/ Cheesy Fries


Mr Beefy's on Urbanspoon


Algonquin, IL – Chubby’s


Chubby’s, in the NW burbs of Chicago, is a ‘mom and pop’ style burger/dog/Greek fast food place.  They serve above average quality, cooked to order foods.   It’s always amazing to me that independents can survive these days, but at noon,  at least, this place is fairly busy, and like most suburban eateries, is surrounded by the big chains.

I went with a plain cheeseburger, at $3.99 for what looks like a third pound patty, built to resemble hand-formed, but my guess it’s a machined patty.  While the flavor was OK, with some smoke flavor enhancer added, the texture, a relatively fine grind, was not to my personal taste.

The soft bakery roll, dusted with cornmeal, was amble enough to stand up to whatever one would choose to layer between it.

Will I go back?  Yep.  I’d like to try some other items on the menu, which you can peruse here  before you visit!

2015 Update:  I don’t think I really noticed their fries last time.  Hand cut, skin on.  Really outstanding.  A damned fine cheezy beef, too.

Chubby's Gyros Algonquin


Chubby's on Urbanspoon


Algonquin Chubbys


Wauconda, IL – Scooter’s Hot Dogs


Out beyond the hoity-toity Chicago suburb where we raised our family, there’s the outpost of the town of Wauconda, IL,  a nice little lake, some shops, quiet neighborhoods.  We used to go there pretty often for an ‘all you can eat’ Friday nite fish fry, quite common in Northern Illinois,  Southern Wisconsin.

But today it was just a quick pass through and a stop at a local weenie emporium called Scooters, which has been around since ’86.  Scooters is one of the 1000+ places in Chicagoland that serves hot dogs, beef, and sausages from my favorite (and Chicago’s) supplier, Vienna Beef.

I went with a Maxwell Street (a Vienna brand) polish with kraut and mustard, and added a side of Greek fries;  which have Greek seasonings, oil and vinegar, and as you can see, a healthy dose of Feta.   They’re great, my new favorite thing I shouldn’t eat.

If you ever get to Wauconda, stop by Scooters for your Vienna fix, then hang around til Friday nite for one of the local fish frys.

Scooter’s menu is online.

Scooter's Greek Style Fries

Scooters on Urbanspoon


Dog Day Afternoon Becomes Three, er Four Dog Night


I was in the mood for hot dogs today, actually this thing started at about 3AM this morning, but I couldn’t motivate myself to get out of bed to pan up some weenies. So I went ahead and did it for breakfast at 730A, two Oscar Meyer all beef franks, buns, yellow mustard only.

This feat reminded me it has been some time since I went in search of dogs, so I headed downtown to sample a few. I didn’t want any repeats, so I skipped Bro Dogs, Beez Neez, Superdogs, and a couple of other also rans, like “Hot Dogs on the Square.

My second dog of the day was at Theo’s, which was apparently something else previously, but recently underwent a name change and a spiffing up of decor. Theo’s offers a “Naked Dog”, a kosher 1/4 pounder with your choice of condiments, or a Chicago Style, which ordinarily would come (in Chicago) with mustard, neon green relish, chopped onion, sport peppers, pickle spear, tomato, a dash of celery salt on a poppy seed bun. Theo’s (below) comes with pickled onions, sweet relish, cucumber slices, tomato, mustard on a toasted roll. It was a meaty sucker, all beef, of that I am sure, and weighing in at a full quarter pound at least. The grind was very fine, and it was skinless. A lot of hubbub has been made online about Theo’s potato salad, which was my side choice, I guess it was pretty OK. It’s a big serving, but I don’t get why fries (which have less components and take less labor) require an additional fee? Service is P-O-K-E-Y at best, even when there are few customers. Many online comments echo that. Will I be back? Why sure, I gotta try the burgers, don’t I?

Here’s the Theo’s dog:

Then it was on to NW Burger at the corner of 2nd and Couch, kitty korner from my attorney’s new office, but he was nowhere to be seen, probably hobnobbing with the rich and famous an the Benson or Ringside. I was the only customer at NW, and interrupted the counterman’s own lunch of a dog and fries. I went with the “plain hot dog”, another hefty weenie, weightwise, for $3.50. He fried the dog on a griddle, and toasted the bun nearby. NW offers a very short menu, just the basic dogs, burgers, and fries. Interior signage by Pepsi Cola, White Plains, NY. Since I had asked for my dog to go, the dude handed it to me, and pointed me at the condiment tray, said after I finished, he’d wrap it to go. Condiment selection was brief. I took a little kraut and yellow mustard, and departed the shop, to notice a plaque on the side of the building that proved to be far more interesting than my hot dog crawl. On this site, was our little “Japan town” prior to WW2, and it was from these very buildings the local Japanese were herded up and taken to the camps. A dark day in our history, if you ask me.

Interior, NW Burger:

NW’s dog was denser than Theo’s, and a little coarser grind. It didn’t appeal to me as much, but then, I was only in for a bite, to taste and compare. I’ll hit NW again too, to try a burger someday.

NW ‘s Dog w/ kraut and ‘stard, pictured here.

I had a few yet to go – Big Fat Wiener, Taste of Poland, and the Smokin’ Pig. Could I make it?

Fortunately, the gods of smaller waistlines were  funnin’ with me today, I couldn’t find Big Fat Wiener (and this is the second time I have looked, are you invisible as well as fat?). Taste of Poland folks either slept in, or sold out in the first ten minutes they opened today, as the cart was closed up tight. And Smokin’ Pig didn’t have a dog listed on his menu board. If you’re selling it, announce it, buster!

So total consumption was a mere four, when i was aiming for seven. Fortunately, or hopefully, I will live to see another day and try again!

Now dog tired, I packed it in, and got on to the more pressing elements of the day….like buying some new underwear for my next burger and dog road trip.

Theo's on Urbanspoon

NW Burger on Urbanspoon

Smokin' Pig BBQ (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

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