Alexis and Brandon, the owners and operators of Chicago Style Dog’s
, are from Cicero, a Chicago suburb that shares a border with this food writer’s home village. The city gets name-dropped in "Cell Block Tango," one of the showstoppers from the musical Chicago
, and more recently was the hometown of Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman, from "Better Call Saul."
The owners, who didn't want to give their last names for this story, have lived in Texas for seven years now. Last month they opened a Chicago hot dog spot in Garland in an effort to bring this Chicagoland specialty to the folks of North Texas.
Chicago Style Dog's is the newest entry into the Chicago hot dog scene in North Texas.
The small spot has seating for about four and shares space with an auto mechanic garage. You could say it pretty much nails the lack of pretension that real Chicago-area dog joints are known for. The menu’s main draw is their version of the Chicago-style hot dog for $6.50, along with both regular and Maxwell Street Polish sausage, and a traditional hot dog. There's even a chili dog for those who don’t like a garden with their dog. They also offer pizza puffs, and on Fridays only, Italian beef sandwiches. Most importantly, the beef and dogs are genuine Vienna Beef as God intended.
Since our visit was on a Thursday, we couldn’t try the Italian beef, but we ordered a Chicago dog, a Maxwell Street Polish and a pizza puff. Alexis told us the puff would take about five minutes because they fry them on demand, so we settled in at a bar stool and enjoyed the two dogs as they were ready.
A Maxwell Street Polish: sausage smothered in grilled onions and mustard.
The Maxwell Street Polish was ready first, a plump sausage with a good snap to the bite and generously slathered in mustard. The grilled onions were plentiful as well, and the bun was substantial enough to hold everything together. It’s kind of hard to mess this up if the sausage is of good quality, and this came through with flying colors at $8, which is relatively inexpensive for a Maxwell Street Polish in the D/FW area.
A Chicago-style hot dog: Vienna beef hot dog with tomato, mustard, pickle, relish, sport peppers and chopped onion, all in a poppy seed bun sprinkled with celery salt. Nailed it. (There is a hot dog in there somewhere...)
The Chicago hot dog was correct and perfectly dragged through the garden with tomatoes, a kosher pickle slice, mustard, sport peppers, chopped white onions, and the correctly hued neon green relish. The bun was of the poppy seed variety, as it should be, but we’ve seen some local purveyors of alleged Chicago dogs serve them up on a sesame seed bun. Not here. A dash of celery salt completed the dog for under $7.
Pizza puff: a deep-fried pocket of tomato sauce and cheese. Don't call it a Hot Pocket.
When the pizza puff was ready, we decided to offer it to the two Garland police officers who were sitting next to us. They had been asking questions about it, never having seen one before. Yeah, it’s sort of like a Hot Pocket, or a really large Totino's pizza roll, but sort of not. The verdict from the hungry cops: it was very good, the tomato sauce flavorful and the crust flaky. They’ve become pizza puff converts. I take them at their word.
North Texas is lucky in that we now have several places that serve Chicago-style hot dogs
, and by the end of the year the granddaddy of them all, Portillo’s
, will open in The Colony. Until then, smaller independent places like Chicago Style Dog’s will do just fine, and truth be told, they often do them better.