When it comes to hot dogs, Chicagoans take them so seriously that there are rules about how to top them ( with plenty of people syaing a bottle of ketchup shouldn't be within miles of them, unless French fries accompany them ).
However, Lincoln Park spot Dog Haus Biergarten Lincoln Park ( 2464 N. Lincoln Ave.; lincolnpark.doghaus.com ) has turned the hot dog on its headand succeeds brilliantly with its gourmet twists on the creation.
Franchise co-owner Jesse Koontz ( who runs the spot with Toni Siprut ) was struck with inspiration when he visited a Dog Haus in California. "I was in the Marines from 2005 to 2009, and a lot of my friends are either still serving or they stayed in the area," Koontz told Windy City Times. "So, in late 2015, I went to visit my buddy Josh. We were going to another friend's house and we happened to pass the Dog Haus in Burbank. He wanted to stop in and said, 'I've been waiting to try this place.'
"As soon as I walked in, I immediately fell in love with the conceptthe modern industrial [look] with concrete floors and butcher-block tables, the '80s music and the case that lets you see all the sausages. So I contacted corporate as soon as I got back."
And Dog Haus is a booming concept. Although there are about 30 locations right now, it's project to expand to 650 over the next few years. "One group bought the right to 12 states," Koontz said. "I committed to five locations in Chicago: I have Lincoln Park [the only one currrently in existence], Lake View, River North, Wicker Park and West Loop/Fulton Market."
As for what separates Dog Haus from other wiener-focused spot, Koontz said, "It's definitely the toppings, like avocado, aioli and fried onions. As for the sausages, they're more traditionalbut they're hand-crafted by our [corporate] celebrity chef, Adam Gertler. He actually handcrafts all of the sausages in his kitchen, and then he plays around with them, adding things like garlic and fennel. Then, a facility makes them in small batches of 300 pounds at a time, package them and ship them to their respective branches."
When asked what hot-dog purists have to say, Koontz responded, "Everyone has been pretty receptive of the brand. Obviously, we've had some people who are not used to the King's Hawaiian rolls [a staple of Dog Haus' hot dogs and other sandwiches], but they become [fans]."
And who could resist these concoctions? Dog Haus' wieners ( which are hormone- and antibiotic-free, by the way ) have variations such as the Free Bird ( turkey dog, avocado, tomato, smoked bacon and miso ranch ), Chili Idol ( haus chili, cheddar cheese sauce and onions ) and the pun-tastic and very tasty Scott Baioli ( smoked bacon-wrapped dog, cheddar cheese sauce and caramelized onions, garlic aioli ).
However, Dog Haus offers so much more than hot dogs, like burgers ( and the standard cheeseburger tastes like an upscale Big Mac ), sliders, ice cream, and even beer and boozy milkshakes. The Bad Mutha Clucka rounds out the menu, offering guests a crispy fried or grilled chicken sandwich served with lettuce, pickles and miso ranch. ( By the way, there are veggie options for just about every sandwich. )
And as if all that isn't enough, Dog Haus has partnered with No Kid Hungry for a year-long chef collaboration series to roll out a new menu item every two months this year, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the national charity in its mission to end childhood hunger in the United States. It seems like a great package deal: great food and a great cause.
ZED451's summer cocktails
With summer coming, you know what that means: rooftop parties that offer refreshing drinks and ( hopefully ) cool views.
River North spot ZED451 ( 739 N. Clark St.; zed451.com/ ) offers both.Many know the restaurant for its Brazilian steakhouse conceptbut more are becoming familiar with the cocktails as well. A recent media event featured tasty sips such as the peach sangria ( peach puree, chardonnay, orange liqueur and Korbel brandy ), ginger-bourbon lemonade and the Granda ( pomegranate juice, lime juice, agave syrup, Milagro Silver tequila and Peloton de la Muerte mezcal ).
However, there are tempting eats as well, including tomato mozzarella skewers, hanger skewers with chimichurri, crispy buffalo shrimp and addictive pork-belly bites.
The rooftop offer stunning views of the River North area. Pick a comfy chair and just relax.
AFC Chili Cook-Off May 12
Asians & Friends Chicago ( AFC ) second annual Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, May 12, 3 p.m., at The North End, 3733 N. Halsted St.
Competitors are urged to bring a crock pot of chili ( there will be extension cords and plugs ) to be judged. In addition, AFC still needs to raise about $750 for its Pride float, so there will be a 50/50 raffle; people are encouraged to bring items to raffle.
See AFChicago.org .