Hot Doug’s (Restaurant, Avondale)
Duck fat fries. I wasn’t even sure I had heard correctly the first time it was said to me. That unusual delicacy was certainly worth a double take, and so was the rest of the menu at Hot Doug’s. This quirky little shop dubs itself a Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium; check out their specials if you think they are exaggerating. A friend from Florida came in for the weekend and I decided it was time for me to take a visit to see what all of the hype was about. I found out quickly enough; we got there a half hour before they opened and were greeted by an eager line of dedicated meat enthusiasts and future duck fat devourers.
Hot Doug’s is located on the 3300 block of North California, a quick ride west on the Belmont bus off of the red, brown, or purple line. Doug’s knows their target audience and are only open from 10:30 until 4:00, closed on Sunday. It ends up being all the time they need because people pack in from open until close. When Billy and I arrived we expected to be the first ones in when they finally unlocked the doors. What ignorant fools. The line inside takes you by a window looking into the seating area and the first guy to get his food sat at a booth right in front of it. It was brutal; he had an entire room of tables to choose from but he chose to taunt us with his succulent gourmet hot dog and heaping pile of French fries crisped in duck fat oil. Conversation in the line turned from what we were going to get into the many ways we were going to seek revenge on this quiet, gloating display.
Cash only. Thank goodness for friends on vacation. If you are like me and only carry plastic make sure to hit up your nearest Chase. I was going to say bank, but, come on…I’m sure you have that Chase card with the cityscape in the background. The cash man looks like he was pulled straight from a Vince Vaughn movie and he writes down your orders by hand. Speaking of orders, don’t waste your time in line. Check out that menu because you have a wider variety of options than I thought imaginable for a hot dog joint. They name their dogs after celebs and have specials upon specials. You can get anything from a simple hot dog to a, and I haven’t added any flourish to this, “foie gras and sauternes duck sausage and truffle aioli, foie gras mousse and fleur de sel.” Sit that next to your heaping pile of duck fat fries, which they only serve on Friday and Saturday, and you’re guaranteed to give a visitor a meal to remember. You’ll probably find yourself back in that same line next week. Look for me if you do. Hot Doug’s has a motto: “There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘Encased Meats,’ my friend,” and I think I believe them.
Location: 3324 N California Ave.