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.
Yesterday I featured one of the first hot dog places I'd ever patronized, so today I thought I'd feature a new favorite. Trolley Dogs is a family owned and operated place in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I've been going there for more than three years now, and it's one of those places I always try to bring out-of-town friends and family when they visit. This particular visit I got my usual--two Chicago Dogs and a cheese fry--and my wife got a Polish Dog with a french fry, all for about thirteen dollars.
Dog: Trolley Dogs' Chicago Dog is a red Vienna Beef hot dog with a good, tough skin. The skin is just right, giving that satisfying snap as your teeth tear into the dog. This is an important but elusive trait of a good hot dog--having that 'snap' alludes to the hot dog's heterogeneous origins even as the savory meat is itself a homogeneous wonder.
Bun: The bread is soft and moist. They include the critical element of a requisite amount of poppy seeds on the bun, but the soft bun is the most defining factor. Since Chicago Dogs are usually so packed full of good toppings, having a moist bun allows the constituent elements to stick to the foundation and helps ensure that every bit of the bountiful hot dog ends up in your mouth.
Toppings: Trolley Dogs' Chicago Dogs are defined by fresh, crisp toppings. The onions are still mouth-watering, infusing the entree with their signature tang. The traditional glowing green relish gives a sweet counter to their bursting hot peppers, whose seeds spill out onto the dog and looming over the other toppings' contributions to the overall taste. The mustard, tomatoes, and celery salt are judiciously applied, so that the full toothsome effect of the hot dog is a fully diversified panoply of distinct elements.
Side: With an order of cheese fries on the side, the Trolley Dogs meal is rounded off with rich, savory flavors that are satisfying. At Trolley Dogs, your average order of a hot dog or Polish will be wrapped in an order of french fries, so they are naturally distinct and delicious. Thick and lightly seasoned with the skin still on them, the fries are the soft, fleshy sort you can normally eat without anything else. But dipping them into the cheese sauce, which has a slight nacho flavoring, completes the meal with heavy staying power.
Venue: Trolley Dogs is a nice, small lot. The front door enters immediately in front of the counter, and you'll always find yourself served quickly. The long, thin shop features a long row of booths, with an electric train set going overhead, which ends in a couple of arcade machines. The front part of the store's walls and counter space is covered with local photos and news, making it a firm fixture in downtown Kenosha's quiet culture. And, located near Lake Michigan, when you're finished eating at Trolley Dogs you're only a couple minute walk from a beach or marina.