Vital Information, the Mayor of Chicago Chowhound, put out the call for Chowhounds to review the Chicago style hot dog joint closest to their house, irrespective of quality, Top dog certainly falls in to the irrespective of quality category.
I have not been to top dog for 5 or 6 years and, most certainly, without the mayoral edict would have happily never set foot in the place again. The first impression as you walk in is one of grease, stale grease in the air, sheen of grease on the counters, even grease in the countermans hair. The second impression or, more accurately, thought, is what the heck am I doing here?
The counterman was friendly and talkative, possibly due to the fact that I was the only customer he had seen in a while. This might be attributable to the fact that it was Saturday and the two neighboring businesses were empty, Forum office complex and Skill building, but was most likely due to the quality of his offerings.
I ordered a dog and fries, the Chicago hot dog stand baseline, and hoped for the best. I was not encouraged by the fact that while I waited the fellow making the hot dogs in back transferred, with his bare hands, relish out of a gallon plastic jar into a smaller container for his dog stand mise en place.
How was the hot dog, you ask? In a word, terrible. A 6 to the pound skinless Best Kosher that tasted as if it had been cooked the day before and then reheated when it did not sell. Stale no-poppy seed bun, onions that had dried out days ago, hand-made relish and yellow mustard, the mustard being the best thing about the hot dog.
The fries, which were medium thick and nicely salted, were cooked slightly crisp, exactly as I like them, but had an off freezer burn flavor and a mealy inside texture.
Top Dog makes Bunny Hutch seem like the Everest Room.
Peterson at about 4100 W
(Rodgers and Peterson)