This tidbit from the Dark City passed through my brain via Facebook this morning. Hot Doug’s, the encased meat emporium and sausage superstore, will sling its last on October 3, 2014. Doug Sohn, owner, has decided that he wants to move on to other things, which is completely understandable. As my mother can attest, owning a restaurant is no small feat. Owning a restaurant that sells between 700-800 sausages a day must be all consuming.

Hot Doug’s is known not only for its high quality classic dogs (Chicago style, keilbasa, red hots), but also for its haute street cuisine approach. The rotating daily special menu included rattlesnake with chili mayo and, most famously, foie gras with truffle aioli and fleur de sel. Fridays and Saturdays feature their signature fries crisped in duck fat, just in case you need extra hedonism on the side. Sohn was also an instrumental figure in the protest against the Chicago foie gras ban (2006-2008). In fact, he disregarded it entirely. His citation from the city was displayed proudly on the counter for all to see.

I had the good fortune of living in Avondale for part of my time in Chicago. Hot Doug’s was my go-to destination for hooky days since they didn’t do dinner service and I wasn’t foolish enough to go on the weekend. While inching along in that impossible queue, one could get a sense of the city through its people – tourists, wanna-be VIPs, the 9-to-5 crowd, cops, hipsters, neighborhood families, students. Despite all this “buy the world a Coke” bonhomie, there were days when the queue threatened to break. I’ll never forget the nasally, receding hairline who wouldn’t shut up about “knowing Doug” and his look dashed hope when the man himself took the order with zero recognition. Hairline stood there a few beats too long, trying to glad hand just the smallest glimmer, when someone from the back yelled “Move on already!” A murmur rose. Impatient shuffling ensued. Only egos were hurt, but I’m certain that all was forgotten the minute food arrived. A lot rests on one bite.

Hot Doug’s is located on 3324 N. California Ave, Chicago, IL, 60618. Enjoy one last summer together before it’s gone forever.

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