I don't normally go for hot dogs, but sometimes I just crave one and finding out that Mustard's, a Chicago-Style hot dog joint was around the corner where I used to work in Long Beach, was a good thing in my book.
I was able to visit Mustard's twice. For my first time out, it was all about their Chili Fire Dog which was in a poppyseed bun with chili and onions and a side of fries. Taking my first bite, I could already taste the quality of the meat. It was moist and there was a snap to it with every bite. I also really appreciated how the hot dog was cut partially half-way. It allowed the chili to lay inside the hot dog as opposed to just on top it. That actually meant more chili in general and considering that the chili was quite flavorful, I was happy to have more. The soft poppyseed bun was also a hit. Overall, it was a great hot dog, except for one thing.
The "fire" was missing. Not to say that there wasn't some heat. There was a little bit of a kick, but not one big enough for it to be appropriately referred to as a "Fire Dog." But then I'm not sure if there's any other term that would be more appropriate. Maybe, "Spicy Dog" would be a better fit. Regardless, I wouldn't necessarily enjoy it more if it was actually spicier, just because the quality of the ingredients spoke for themselves.
For my second visit to Mustard's, I went straight for the Chicago Dog, which is a hot dog on a poppyseed bun with mustard, relish, dill pickle, a slice of tomato, onions and peppers. Given that my palate likes strong flavors, I was really looking forward to taking my first bite. Once I did, it was a big mess. The pickle and tomato were hanging for dear life while the pepper almost came off the bun hanging off my mouth and then the relish got all over my fingers. From start to finish, this Chicago Dog was a chore to eat. At one point, I picked off the pickle spear and pepper and ate them separately and removed the tomato entirely. The hot dog itself was still really good as was the bun.
On paper, I actually thought I'd enjoy this hot dog better than the Chili Fire Dog I had before, but it wasn't the case. I've never had a Chicago Dog before in Chicago, so I'm not sure if what I had was close to the real thing or not. Don't get me wrong. I don't shy away from messy hands-on eating, but if the draw of this Chicago Dog is try and capture as many of the flavors of the ingredients as possible, one bite at at time, it just didn't work out for me. What would have made this hot dog a better eating experience for me is if some of the ingredients were at a smaller scale like the pickle spear and tomato which seemed gargantuan. The pepper was generally okay as it was. With the pickle and tomato scaled in size, the hot dog would have been more enjoyable because I would have had a better chance of tasting everything at one time as opposed to separately.
To end, if I were still working in Long Beach, I would have made more return trips to Mustard's. There were actually other foods I saw on the menu that were typical Chicagoan fare that I would have wanted to try like their Italian Beef Sandwich. I may have even ordered the Chicago Dog again, even if I had to cut the tomato and pickle spear smaller myself. Overall, while execution may not have worked at times, the hot dog on its own was superb. Just give me one of those hot dogs in their wonderful poppyseed bun with just a little mustard and onions and I would have been a happy camper. Sometimes food at its simplest form is just the way to go.
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3387 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90807
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