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Hot dogs in Highland Park

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Restaurants & Bars

Hot dogs in Highland Park

George R | Jul 13, 2004 11:18 PM

Several months ago, when I posted on Dempster Street hot dog stands, Cathy2 asked me to report about Highland Park hot dog places. Today I did a chowscience study of Michael’s and Stash’s, two long-time HP hot dog purveyors, and also compared them with Best Kosher’s outlet.

Quick summary is that all three are pretty good and incredibly close in taste, but Best’s is much cheaper. Also, Stash’s clearly beats Michael’s on fries. Best only offers bags of chips.

I went to all three today during the lunch hour. There were lines at Stash’s and Michael’s, but my simple order was handled quickly. At Best there was no waiting.

Best is different in that you apply the fixings. They put the dog in a piece of foil on the counter next to the condiments and you go to it. No grilled onions, but raw are available as well as the usual mustard, relish, ketchup (ugh), peppers, pickles, and celery salt.

Hot dogs from Michael’s and Stash’s look exactly alike and taste virtually the same (my son preferred Stash’s slightly). Both are on poppy seed buns. Michael’s uses Rosen’s buns (I saw the box). I didn’t see what buns Stash’s uses, but expect it’s the same.

Best has a completely different bun, seedless, much larger and breadier – rather challah-like. The bun is so big it almost overwhelms the dog.

A hot dog costs $2.59 at both Stash’s and Michael’s. The same size is called a junior hot dog at Best and costs just $1.25. Best’s jumbo hot dog, which is about twice as big and comes on a larger bun, is only $2.25 – a great value. Best’s jumbo with a bag of chips and a can of pop is a reasonable meal for most people.

All three were meaty and chewy with a reasonable amount of pop. Best’s junior dog seemed slightly less juicy, perhaps because it may have sat in the hot water too long. Best’s jumbo was just fine – it was my favorite with lots of flavor. I’m sure the formula is the same, but the size may help it to keep its juices. Also, they probably sell five jumbos for every junior so it doesn’t sit in the hot water as long.

Michael’s fries ($1.59) are a slightly thicker version of McDonald’s, but don’t quite pull it off. They lacked the texture and flavor I expected. Stash’s fries ($1.79) are about the same thickness, more gnarly with some skin, and taste better. Definitely worth the small premium. Stash’s has a sign which says “best fries on the north shore.” I don’t know if that’s true, but they are the best within a two block radius.

At both I asked if the fries were salted. The counterman at Stash’s said no. I then had to ask him for salt. At Michael’s I was told the fries did have salt, but one taste said otherwise. Fortunately, the salt from Stash’s improved the situation, but even so Stash’s was clearly better.

All three places have other offerings. Michael’s and Stash’s have extensive menus. Best’s has several kinds of sandwiches (corned beef, salami, pastrami, etc.). A big part of their business is kosher butcher shop products.

Best Kosher
1630 Deerfield Road
Highland Park 60035
847-831-9435
Closes early (about 3pm) on Friday and is closed all day Saturday

Michael’s Chicago-Style Red Hots
1879 Second Street
Highland Park 60035
847-432-3338

Stash’s
Port Clinton Square
Highland Park 60035
847-432-6550
The official address is on Central Street, but they actually are around the corner in the 1700 block of Second Street

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