I have been looking for a place to get a good Chicago Dog without getting on an airplane since QT Chicago Dogs, a few blocks from my office, closed while I was away on vacation in 2014.
It took a year, but I found it at the strangely named Vicious Dogs on a restaurant heavy block in the North Hollywood (NoHo) Arts District in the San Fernando Valley.
As a rule I prefer my hot dogs minimalist – a frankfurter on a bun, with a little yellow mustard and maybe some sauerkraut. Anything more than that disguises the taste of the actual wiener, which after all is what I really want. Otherwise you could just put the condiments on a bun and skip the actual hot dog. Which at certain places wouldn’t be such a horrible idea. All this most likely traces back to my Brooklyn roots and the easy availability of Nathan’s Famous Franks at Coney Island.
Some may say there’s an element of paranoia involved in believing a vendor would disguise an inferior hot dog with condiments. Maybe so. But I’ve eaten hot dogs at Dodger Stadium and Pink’s in Los Angeles. If it’s paranoia it isn’t without justification. There’s also the fact that I actually like the taste, texture and experience of a really good hot dog.
I make an exception for Chicago Dogs. Perhaps it’s because the first time I tasted one was in Chicago and I had been primed for the experience by a Chicago-born friend who raved about them. I had been warned not to have the Chicago Dogs at Wrigley Field. It was a warning I ignored after I learned they were serving all beef Vienna hot dogs that had been grilled, not boiled. I was sold and went back for a second one.
I don’t think you can do more to disguise the taste of a hot dog than what is done to a Chicago Dog. It’s served on a poppy seed bun, which is not a problem. It’s topped with mustard, a neon green version of relish, onions, tomato wedges, a pickle spear, hot sports peppers and a sprinkling of celery salt. If the Vienna hot dog was missing you might not notice. But the whole think makes a delightful taste treat. And the Chicago Dogs at Vicious Dogs is up to the challenge.
The menu at Vicious Dogs is extensive. It begins with “choose your hot dog.” The choices are BEEF – kosher, all American, Vienna, and spicy Polish; PORK – Louisiana Link, Pineapple link, Bratwurst, Italian sausage, and Kielbasa; CHICKED – turkey, chicken apple, sausage; and VEGGIE – soy.