Sunday, April 6, 2008

Housewarming Hot Dogs

Not too many people think “hot dogs” when they think “housewarming gift.” But thankfully, my dear friend N and her husband do. Because they are just that cool and they know us that well.

They live in Chicago, and they sent us a “Tastes of Chicago” gift, complete with Chicago hot dogs (with all the essential toppings) and Chicago pizzas. We were ecstatic. (If I had known what goodness was waiting in the box when the UPS man delivered it, I might have hugged him. And offered him a frozen hot dog.)

We’ve already gobbled up one of the pizzas and almost all the hot dogs. And, as we did, we recalled our last experience with Chicago hot dogs.

We were visiting the city for this same friend’s wedding. Since Husband is crazy about hot dogs (in a way that I can’t convey in a short blog post), we decided to hit a real Chicago hot dog eatery.

I found a couple of recommended hot dog joints in the airline’s in-flight magazine. (If you’ve ever wondered who actually reads those magazines, the answer would be – me.)

Then I used a very methodical process to select a restaurant, by picking the first one listed in the article (as opposed to one that might actually be nearby) cleverly called
Hot Doug's.

We left our hotel in downtown Chicago, and we hopped in a cab.
I handed the driver the address. “All the way to North California St?” he asked.

I answered “Yep!”

Nothing was going to come between us and a great hot dog. Or doug. Or whatever.

So we drove. And drove. When we got on the highway, heading out of the city, I knew we were in trouble. I wondered if he was bringing us to California the street, or California the state! The meter was already up to $16, and I panicked. “Are we almost there??” I asked him. He assured us that we were.

A few minutes later, with $20 on the meter, we arrived at Hot Doug’s. Thankfully, we had enough cash to pay the cabbie, and even a little to spare to buy our lunch. Husband asked him where we could catch a cab for the trip back, and he assured us that “many cabs” pass by there.

The place was a tiny joint, but full of quirky memorabilia and, of course, a menu full of various hot dogs. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. (Husband would recall that I mooched too much of his coke and I should have ordered my own, but that’s a different topic altogether.) The hot dogs were delicious and were certainly worthy of a mention in an in-flight magazine and more.

We walked out of the restaurant, ready to find one of the “many cabs” that supposedly pass by the area. But there were none to be found, and there were barely any cars passing by.

Finally, we spotted a bus that was stopped. And, in an embarrassing move, I knocked on the glass door and then asked the driver a series of questions about the bus system as if I were an alien from another planet. It’s probably good that the driver didn’t suspect that I was actually once lived in the Chicago area, since he probably would have scolded me and left us in the dust. Instead, he was quite helpful and polite, and eventually we made our way back to our hotel.

We went to the wedding rehearsal the next day, and my friend asked us what we did in the city. “Oh, well, we went to Hot Doug’s for a Chicago dog.”

“Oh wow. All the way there?” she asked.

Yep, all $20+ in cab fare and a couple hours in travel time on the return trip that involved both a bus and train.

From then on, she knew then that we were serious about hot dogs. So what a perfect housewarming gift for us.

Now I take my dog with ketchup, mustard, and relish. Just hold the onions and the cab fare.


A, B & C said...

I love Lou Malnati's! What a great gift. My Mom, Dad, and Brother moved to Chicago about 8 years ago (once I had gone to college), but we spend as much time visiting as we can! In fact, my husband and I occasionally talk about how we can move there for good. I love a good hot dog, and the best place is any one of the amazing hot dog shops in Chicago.

trying said...

what a great idea! ill have to make a mental note of that for the next time we need a housewarming gift. (im sure it'll be next month or something!)

though no offense, ny pizza is far better then chicago! : )

tootie said...

Yes, it's truly an awesome gift. The food itself is superb, and it arrived in great shape. I'm not sure how expensive it is, but regardless, I would say it's worth every penny!

Kristen said...

I lived in Chicago for ten years. The thing that my husband and I miss the most is the food. This post made me homesick.