Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hot Dogs at Hamburger Heaven

This started when a friend told me he had eaten hot dogs at Hamburger Heaven recently. I had no idea they even served hot dogs. It has been a long time since I have been there so I suggested we give it a try. In fact the last time I went to Hamburger Heaven it was to the original location out on Crestwood Blvd. For this trip we went to the location on hwy. 280 close to Lloyds.

I remember my dad used to say that you shouldn't order fish at a steak restaurant or steak at a seafood restaurant because it wouldn't be as good as you hoped. That came back to me after we went to Hamburger Heaven to have hot dogs. Hamburger Heaven is clearly a place that specializes in hamburgers. Don't get me wrong, the hot dogs were not bad, but they were nothing special either.

The dogs they serve are large and I presume are Nathan's brand since there is a Nathan's sign on the wall in the rear of the side seating area. We each tried a chili dog and hot dog as usual on a first visit to a place. The hot dogs come somewhat like a "Birmingham dog", with sauce, mustard, kraut and onions. But, the sauce is different from any hot dog sauce I have ever seen. It is actually their own hamburger sauce that appears to be a mix of mustard and ketchup with a little something else thrown in. The chili on the chili dogs is good chili. I didn't think to look but I bet they have a hamburger topped with chili, thus the chili is hot and ready.

We sat there eating and finally talked about the food. It was then that we agreed that while it all seemed OK it just left us wishing we had tried something else. The hot dogs showed no evidence of being grilled and were actually warm rather than hot even though served in Styrofoam caskets that could have kept them warm. It's really hard to come up with specific reasons for our reaction other than the serving temperature and not having been grilled. The bottom line is, both the temperature and the flavor left something to be desired. It is our opinion that at over $2 each, you would do better to have a hamburger at Hamburger Heaven rather than a hot dog.

The thought came to us that despite the many businesses along highway 280, we can think of NO hot dog stands between Homewood and Chelsea. I think there is a business opportunity for someone there.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jim's Trip to Chicago

A good friend of mine, Jim, recently made a work related trip to Chicago. Since he has followed our hot dog adventures he wanted to report on having some Chicago dogs. The following comments are from him.

Cheese Dog and Fries at Billy Goat's

Monday at lunch I had a Cheese dog and a polish sausage at the Billy Goat Tavern location in Merchandise Mart since it was close to my school. I had been to the original Tavern on Michigan Ave when I was there three years ago, but didn't go this year. They don't serve fries at the original location (I'll have to tell you about that) and their hot dogs may be better than the ones they serve in the food court. They were OK, but nothing any different from what we get here.

I talked with Jim about his Chicago trip and his french fry comment. He is an engineer with AT&T attending a school on how to do some technical jobs in the event he is called on to help keep things running in an emergency or during a strike. It seems that a mutual friend of ours had recommended that he eat at Billy Goat Tavern, the original location, and be sure to have their fries. He had fries at his visit to the location at the Merchandise Mart; but when he later went to a different location and tried to order fries he was answered with: "Chips, no fries"; and his attention was directed to a sign stating that they don't serve french fries but do serve chips. He then realized that he had been "set up" by our mutual friend. Jim also commented about another sign proclaiming how they serve Coca-Cola products, not Pepsi products. This is somewhat consistent with the many hot dog sellers in Chicago who refuse to put ketchup on a hot dog. There doesn't seem to be much tolerance for different tastes.

Chicago Dogs and Fries at America's Dogs

OK, now back to Jim's report:
I walked to the Navy Pier on Friday in hopes of getting a real Chicago Dog. My wife and I were there Labor Day weekend in 2009 and that was the first time I had a real Chicago Dog. From a distance, the Navy Pier appeared to be closed, but to my delight I found it open and a lot of people inside. I made my way to America's Dog and ordered two Chicago Dogs. They were as good as I remembered, can't wait to go back!!!

I had wanted to go to Super Dog north of where I was staying, but did not have a car and didn't want to take a chance on getting a taxi there and back. Maybe next time.