Chicago, Illinois – Gold Coast Dogs (Chicago Style Hot Dog)

Restaurant: Gold Coast Dogs
Cuisine: American/Hot Dogs/Fast Food
Last visited: June 17, 2012
Location: Chicago, IL (Midway)
Address: 5700 S Cicero Ave Ste tc03
Transit: Midway
Where I stayed: Hyatt Regency Chicago (Taxi recommended)
Price Range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: n/a, pay at cashier
Ambiance: n/a, at airport
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Franchise
  • Popular for hot dogs
  • All Vienna beef
  • Char grilled
  • Natural casing
  • Quick/casual
  • Budget friendly/cheap eats
  • Family friendly
  • Standing room
  • 7 days a week (Lunch/dinner)

**Recommendations: Char Grilled Dog (Chicago Style)

From 3 Michelin Star to airport food. My last meal in Follow Me Foodie to Chicago was supposed to be at Alinea and I planned it that way too. I knew it would be hard to top and it was an experience that needed time to process. Of course it’s unfair to compare anything to my dinner at Alinea, but I wanted to float on my Alinea cloud for as long as possible, or until hunger called. And guess what? Hunger called.

There are 3 food staples that come to mind when I think of Chicago. There is the Chicago style deep dish pizza, Chicago style hot dog, and Italian beef sandwich. I tried Pizano’s and Lou Malnati’s for pizza and Al’s #1 Italian Beef for sandwiches, but I ran out of time and missed Maxwell Hot Dogs, Hot Doug’s, Portillo’s and Weiner’s Circle. Those were the original places I had chosen for my hot dog quest, but I would have been content even just trying one of them. In the end there wasn’t enough time to dedicate four precious eating opportunities to a hot dog, but if I lived there I would for sure.

I have to admit that I was pretty bummed about leaving The Windy City without trying a Chicago style hot dog. I thought I had missed all my opportunities, but I had accepted the fact that I would have to save the experience for next time. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw Gold Coast Dogs.

To be honest, I really wasn’t that excited because it wasn’t one I had heard of or researched. I was also at the airport so I didn’t expect it to be that great or even legit. I didn’t want to ruin my first Chicago style hot dog experience with a bad dog. I know. I’m very specific with my food, but that’s why it’s called Follow Me Foodie.

I was actually thinking of passing on my chance because I was truly satisfied having Alinea as my last dining experience in Chicago. It wasn’t until an elderly lady sitting near me started raving about how delicious the hot dog she just ordered at Gold Coast Dogs was. She said “I’ve had a ton, but that one was the best”. Well then. I might as well, and besides I was getting hungry.

Again, this was my first time trying a Chicago style hot dog so I have nothing to compare to. However I just had a feeling it could get better. Gold Coast Dogs was once named “Chicago’s best hot dog”, but it’s a dated title perhaps going back to the early 90’s. It was a good hot dog, but I’m not convinced it’s “the best”, and I was hoping for one of those experiences that would convince me to believe that a Chicago style hot dog is not “just another hot dog”. It didn’t quite happen here, but I’m confident it could somewhere else.

It was a decent introduction and good for being at the airport, but in a city notorious for hot dog joints, it probably isn’t in the “creme de la creme” of Top 10 Best Hot Dogs in Chicago (according to my research and not personal experience).

On the table:

**Char Grilled Dog4/6 (Very good)

  • $3.49
  • Chicago style condiments: Mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle, sport peppers, celery salt.
  • So that’s it. That’s what makes a Chicago style hot dog – those ingredients. Never ask for Ketchup.
  • Adding Ketchup goes against Chicago traditions and it wouldn’t be a Chicago style hot dog with it.
  • The sausage is steamed and then char grilled and reheated on the grill upon order.
  • Traditionally a Chicago hot dog is steamed and not everyone offers the char grilled technique, but nowadays it is preferred.
  • The sausages were sitting on the grill and reheated, so my sausage never got as hot as I wanted it. Char grilled fresh would be better.
  • They scar the sausage and cut the ends open so that there is more surface area for the meat to caramelize and get crispy. Scaring the sausage is ideal.
  • The sausages here are 100% Vienna beef in all natural casings.
  • If you don’t order them Jumbo, then they’re just standard weiner (“little sausage”) size.
  • What makes a good Chicago dog is that it has to have a crunch of fresh ingredients and the sausage should have a nice snappy skin.
  • This one definitely had a crunch and I could taste every topping without it being a salad of ingredients.
  • It had a slight spicy kick from the combination of raw onions, peppers and mustard, but it just tasted like what the ingredients suggested.
  • The poppy seed bun is traditional and this one was super soft and tender and a sweeter type of bread. I loved the bun.
  • There was good contrast of crunchy vegggies, decently snappy sausage and pillowy light bun.
  • There was a smear of bright neon green relish which freaked me out, but apparently neon green relish is what makes a Chicago hot dog iconic.
  • The relish tasted okay, but it just looked so artificial. The tomatoes were a bit weak as well.
  • The only thing that I couldn’t detect was the sprinkle of celery salt on top, but otherwise it was very good.
  • I honestly didn’t see what the big deal was and I appreciated it for the idea, more so than the sausage or Weiner being that good.
  • It’s something you could remake at home, but again I think I just need to try some of the “best hot dogs in Chicago” to be convinced.
  • It’s a bit apples and oranges, but I was more impressed with my New York style hot dog.
  • I believe in the Chicago style hot dog hype, I just haven’t experienced it yet.
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Gold Coast Dogs at Midway on Urbanspoon
**Garrett Popcorn Shops5/6 (Excellent)

  • Chicago Mix
  • This is a random addition, but I didn’t know where else to include it and I think it deserves a shout out.
  • This is something unique to Chicago so you should try it.
  • It’s touristy, but I know Chicagoans like it too.
  • This is the “Chicago Mix” gourmet popcorn from Garrett Popcorn Shops and it’s the only place you should try it.
  • It’s a mix of CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn so it’s taking sweet and salty to the max.
  • It’s almost like Crunch N’ Munch and the CheeseCorn flavour is very cheesy with sharp cheddar cheese.
  • The CaramelCrisp is crunchy and candied with brown sugar and I must say the combination was addicting.
  • I love sweet and salty so I liked this and I would rather have the mix than having one flavour alone. I would get sick of one flavour.
  • It was a bit oily, but not greasy and very fresh without preservatives.
  • It’s best eaten immediately since it’s made fresh daily.

Garrett Popcorn Shops (West Jackson) on Urbanspoon

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