Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chicago! A Bunch of Meats: Hot Doug's & Publican

Chicago, why has it taken me so long to visit you?  Why do you continue to haunt my dreams?

Diana and I spent about an hour and a half in the hot, hot sun waiting in line with other schmucks at Hot Doug's.  We just had to.  Ol' Mr. Dougie said he's going to stop serving these dawgs in October, so gotta git it while the gittin' is good! (Is this a saying that anyone recognizes outside Texas?)

We thought Friday early afternoon is a good time to do this.  Everyone and their mother and their girlfriend and their brother had the same idea.

When you wait in line that long, you contemplate a lot of things, like, "Why are we doing this?" (To eat delicious hot dogs!) and "When is this ever going to be over?" (When we are eating delicious hot dogs!)

You also get time to look at all their cool stuff.

I need these sort of credentials.

And then finally, after two sweet hours of bonding and sharing what slivers of shade the tiny awning outside can provide, you can stare down at beauts like these!

We just ordered a bunch of specials, and you really can't go wrong with any of them.  The toppings are fresh, the cheese tangy,

the sauces completely decadent,

and the ones with fruit essence, like this one with pear wine reduction, make the dog so sweet, savory and wonderful.

I wish I could remember more,

but all you really need to know is that the encased meats are fantastic, with great snap and texture,

and they are often oozing and gooey with cheese, and that's just how life should be.  Cheesy, over the top and great.

And of course, don't forget the duck fat fries.  (No one forgets the duck fat fries.)

A couple hours later, we made enough space for a dinner at The Publican Restaurant.  The space is interesting, with corralled booths on the sides, and a U shaped community table setting around the perimeter of the restaurant.

In a tucked away corner, Diana and I shared smoked mackerel, which was by far the largest mackerel I've ever had, with lots of oily, tasty meat and slivers of fresh citrus,

a side of fried cauliflower - and as delicious as cauliflower naturally is, it is that much more delicious fried.  Completely crisp, ungreasy and awesome.  I may have eaten this whole thing myself when Diana wasn't looking.

The platter of porchetta is honestly enough for at least 3-4 people, but Diana and I tackled what we could, which was easy since

the porchetta was tender beyond belief, requiring no chew at all, disintegrating immediately like a phone from Mission Impossible.  The skin was so flavorful, so fatty, and so ridiculously good (as all pork fat should be).

And after you finish feasting on all the variety of quality meats the Publican has to offer, immediately order the vacherin.

It's a cake of sorts, layered with crispy, chewy meringue and bright citrusy ice cream.  It's nothing short of brilliant.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: The hype of Hot Doug's is deserved but figure out a better time to go (early lunch midweek?).  Publican is a positively great place to go with friends, order a bunch of platters and go to town. I just want that porchetta fat to coat my throat and the insides of my arteries again.

3324 North California, Chicago, IL 60618
Hot Doug's on Urbanspoon

837 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
The Publican on Urbanspoon


  1. you know what haunts my dreams? that meringue!!!!!!! gahhhhh...

  2. OMG! So glad I found your post. Too bad Doug is ceasing his gourmet hot dog venture. Hope we get to visit while we are in town this weekend. Though a 2 hour wait isn't going to be doable with a 5 and 8 year old. I'd go to Publican just for that meringue and ice cream cake!

  3. Yeah dear!! I love your article. I wish I could throw a party at this place but now I have booked best boozy brunch nyc, so better next time.