Week of Chicago Dogs: As Americans near their various and as sundry Independence Day celebrations coming this July 4, there will be a great number of hot dogs consumed. Most of them will be grilled, Oscar Mayer numbers with a pathetic assortment of condiments of least resistance. A few of them, God help them, will have ketchup on them--ketchup! To help liberate the masses from mediocre hot dogs, this next week will detail the essence of a good Chicago-style hot dog from several Midwest vendors. You're welcome.
Throughout high school, this place was my weekend afternoon alternate. Since most of my friends lived in the area, it'd be easy for us to swing by Mr. G's, grab some tube steak and fries, and then pounce around the local wetlands preserve and Antioch community property. Nowadays, the wife and I find time to stop by on our way to other southern locales, and it's always a fun bit of nostalgia for me when we do so. For this particular visit, we grabbed a gyro, medium soda, chili-cheese fry, and Chicago Dog all for a smooth twelve bucks.
Dog: The hot dog was Vienna Beef, of course, but Mr. G's also has the distinction of cooking their hot dogs just right to give them an almost perfect amount of firmness. This sturdy hot dog's skin is almost equivalent to finger surface tension--you really feel like you're chomping into a once-living thing with this dog, and that's the way meat should be in general.
Bun: Their bun has no poppy seeds on it, which is a bad blow to a place with such a great meaty core for their Chicago Dog. The white bread is fluffy and sturdy, yawning gracefully to contain its bounty (see the picture above). It makes for a good handle on your hot dog, but the negative mark of not having poppy seeds is nothing at which to sneeze.
Toppings: Mr. G's toppings cover your general bases. There's no cucumber on this bad boy, but that is really extra credit where Chicago Dogs are concerned. The sport peppers have a fresh, juicy pop to them, and their mouth-watering hotness combines with their heavy celery salt for a strong one-two punch to your taste buds. This is no weakling's Chicago Dog. Pickle is a bit more watered down than most, especially thanks to their thick tomato slices, so you don't get as much of the garlic taste as you might elsewhere. Overall, the Mr. G's Chicago Dog is a savory, filling hot dog that has just one or two hiccups that keep me from going out of my way to get there a bit more often.
Side: Where chili-cheese fries are concerned, I count myself a connoisseur. In my household, in fact, chili-cheese is seldom uttered--we have to abbreviate it to 'cha-cha fries' or 'cha-cha dogs'. The cha-cha fries at Mr. G's are a unique slant on the bombastic side. Start with those crinkle-cut zig-zag fries about the length of your average golf pencil but the thickness of your middle finger, and you have good amounts of crispy potato flesh without the skin (a plus to some). The cheese is a fluid sauce drizzled over the fries--not really nacho flavored, but it's still a con in my estimation. The chili, however, is the really unique thing. It's a smooth and fluffy chili, a little bit sweeter than most you might try, without any beans to find. The overall texture is like a semi-moist refried beans, and it combines with the cheese sauce to have a thick, viscous hold on the fries beneath.
Venue: Mr. G's is another one of these community establishments that features a smattering of photos of locals plastered to the walls as though they were your average CBS 'celebrity'. The walls are not as cluttered as some places, though, and so you get a bit less atmosphere than elsewhere. Again, this is a plus for some, and I imagine it's deliberate since Mr. G's is on the north side of town and hence probably gets more people passing through town as well. The service is fast, too. Our food was ready faster than it takes a Canadian to waffle over fountain drink selection. By the way, if you're having a hot dog, the right answer is always root beer.