Doug Sohn’s influence looms large over Chicago, so it makes sense that Octavio Garcia and Juan Carlos Garcia, former Hot Doug’s cooks, took their knowledge and opened Hot “G” Dog in Uptown, basically reincarnating the original.
Down to the duck fat fries on weekends, “G” is the same. The line is shorter (to the door on a weekday), but it’s cash only and the Instagrams of your lunch are going to look exactly like your Hot Doug’s Instagrams. The Andouille is still “mighty hot!” The duck sausage, with medallions of foie gras, truffle aioli and fleur de sel, faithfully recreates Sohn’s most famous sausage, created to flout the foie gras ban. The brat was my go-to at Hot Doug’s, and here it’s sliced in half and grilled, so there’s more char and less juicy interior, though both styles have their place. There are also specialty sausages, like jerk chicken with banana peppers and asiago, and these combinations vary in success, just like at Hot Doug’s. Overall, the sausages are a little dry, but not so much that you won’t want to eat them.
But Hot Doug’s was never really about the food. It was about the collective experience of waiting in line and having the kind of customer service you can’t get elsewhere. True, Chicago wouldn’t have had this relationship to Hot Doug’s if the food wasn’t awesome, but it’s the experience that was truly special. “G” doesn’t have this yet—it is, as my lunch date said, like the difference between Kuma’s Corner and Kuma’s Too. You can recreate the food, but something important is lost in the transition.
Atmosphere: The space is pretty generic hot dog stand, though there’s a fair amount of seating and a TV playing daytime talk shows. They’re hot dogs—who cares what the space is like?
What to eat: Andouille sausage, duck sausage, cheese fries.
What to drink: There are fountain drinks as well as bottled options, including fancy-for-a-hot-dog-stand Vitamin Water.
Where to sit: The largest table possible so you can fit all your sausages onto it.