Monday, March 14, 2011

Tony's Chicago Style Hot Dog

Robert recently returned to Tony's and had a Chicago dog. He sent me the following picture that he took with his phone while there.
This reminded me of the first Chicago dog I tried at Tony's many months ago. I pulled back up my blog entry and pictures from that visit just to have a look. Link This all kept rattling around in my head for a couple of days resulting in my own revisit to Tony's to have another. Below I have put a picture of the dog I was served back in August:
And here's the dog I got during this visit.
I can't help but notice some differences between these three hot dogs. They all came across the same counter. The third one, my dog on this recent visit, has larger pieces of tomatoes than either of the other two. I know this one was prepared by the owner and that my first one was not. It was prepared by a cook who was manning the grill that day. I don't know who prepared Robert's. This together with other experiences have convinced me that the best food comes when the owner is involved in it's preparation. There is no substitute for the passion and care that the owner will have for the food he serves.

Now some comments about Tony's Chicago dog. It might very well be the closest thing to the real Chicago dog I have found. It is good and has almost all of the ingredients called for. I especially liked the more generous application of fresh tomatoes. The thing it seems to lack are the poppy seed bun and the "sport peppers".

Regarding peppers: I still don't know for sure what a sport pepper is so I might be wrong on that. I plan to order a jar from Chicago to lay that question to rest once and for all.

Regarding poppy seed buns: The poppy seed bun is just not available locally. Only one server, Max's, has gone to the trouble and expense to import these from Chicago. Nice touch!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mike's In Homewood - Another Visit

Last week Robert and I set out to visit what we understood was a new and previously unknown to us hot dog stand in Homewood. We arrived at our destination to discover we had misunderstood several important facts including the name. We had successfully found our way to a bar BQ restaurant instead of a hot dog stand. Since we were hunting hot dogs we moved on to Mike's Chicago Hot Dogs, also in Homewood. It was hard to decide between Sam's Super Samwichs and Mike's but our recent interest in Chicago style hot dogs finally led us to go there.

So here we were at Mike's for a third visit. This time we wanted to try the Chicago style dogs for ourselves. On our second visit one of our party had one and really liked it; but so far neither of us had tried one. We also knew of Mike's reputation for having great burgers; so on this visit we decided to order one Chicago hot dog (They are big) and one hamburger (also big) and split them both. To this we each added a bag of Zapp's potato chips and a drink. I know someone recently reported after eating a "Chicago dog" at a different hot dog stand, he was tempted to ask; "Where's the beef?" This will never happen at Mike's. It doesn't sound like we had a big meal but we both left full and satisfied.

So how was the Chicago style hot dog? It was good. There are some differences between their hot dog and the Chicago dog as described by the purists and hot dog Nazis. (See our recent post regarding Chicago dogs) Those differences are:
  • No poppy seed bun
  • Canned tomatoes rather than fresh
  • No dill pickle spear
I can't say defiantly about the peppers since I've never had a "sport pepper" that I know of. The generously applied peppers on top were mild and flavorful. A couple of thoughts about the canned tomatoes. They probably tasted better than most "fresh" ones you can get in February, but they also added a little too much moisture making the bun almost soggy.

Even with these differences I must say that I like this hot dog and remain a fan of the unusual and unanticipated. I look forward to taking a former Chicago resident to try some of these.