Thursday, August 13, 2009

There's Corn Dogs, then theres Dipping Dogs

-Eating like a local: Regional food specialties
The Spots in the city for Illinois' famous Corn dogs

Its almost the end of summer and many people around the country are flocking to their states annual fair. The US state fairs, some of which date back as long as 150 years ago, started off as a way to showcase livestock and agricultural offerings. It was a way to promote the food grown in the particular state and ways to cook with it. The food has always been a big part of state fairs and back in the day stuff such as pie baking contests and who could grow the largest vegetable were a big part of the entertainment. Nowadays the fairs have become an all out festival with everything from amusement rides to concerts and of course-regional food specialties. Its no secret that the state fairs are a goldmine for fried foods and some of the wackiest items to eat always pop up at one of the countries annual festivities. I'm thinking of heading to the Iowa state fair for some breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches and maybe to check out the Michael Jackson butter sculpture. Do you think they used powdered sugar or flour to put white residue marks under his nose?

Poster from the 2009 IL State Fair

If I don't make it to Iowa then I might get over to Milwaukee for the Wisconsin State Fair and see what kind of cheese creations they have. Maybe a Swiss Cheese sculpted Michael Jackson? the holes being from all the needles he inserted and what not. I remember going about 15 years ago but its been a while and even longer since I've been down to Springfield for the Illinois state fair. All three states (IL,WI, IA) fairs are going on now. Check out this list here of food on a stick available at the WI state fair this year. Keep in mind, that's just food on a stick. One of the Illinois state fairs claims to fame is the corn dog. It was created in Springfield and the IL state fair is now filled with different vendors trying to outdo each other for 'best in fair'. So if your heading down there I hear that Voses, located on state fair grounds, are the best corn dogs there. Luckily for us city folk-you don't have to travel all the way down to Springfield to get the best battered hot dog on a stick. I'm talking the best in state and most likely the country. You see these are so good they have their own name...Dippin' Dogs.

-Got beef?
The (Corn) Dogs of Chi

The Winner and Undisputed Fast Food Champion

One of the best in the biz-located in Evanston, IL

The Wiener and Still Champion is one of the 100+ spots that make Chicago the fast food champ of the freeworld. It was started by a guy who spent years working at his family's hot dog stand and took everything he learned from over there to create one of Chicagolands best joints and a five star roadfood type establishment. If your a fan of Diner's, Drive In's & Dives then you might remember Guy Fieri going loco over some dipping dogs. Anyone considering opening a hot dog stand should take serious notes from this place. Its amazing how much research and work goes into the menu and you can taste the difference. While it may look like a clone of any other dog stand around town-its on another level than the rest.

Dont let the little unassuming spot on Dempster off your radar

So what puts W&SC ahead of the rest of the food stops around town? How about everything on the menu. I wasn't kidding when I said they put TLC into everything, there's a reason I love this place and its not just the angelic beauty working there who can handle the grill. She might be every BBQ man in America's dream girl. Food Network should give her a show, I'd watch. Whoops I'm typing out my thoughts here-now onto the food. I always say that if a place takes the time to make amazing fries they almost always do other things great. Instead of using some boring old frozen spuds, the owner Gus took the time to concoct the perfect batch of fries. These things ladies and gentleman are top 5 fries in Chicago and maybe the best. Some of the best I have ever had on my roadfood adventures. Perfection is reached by using the twice fry method. Its so serious over there that they have secret menu items.

If you know of a better batch of fries...let me know

How serious are they about quality product? they have over seven different dipping sauces for your fries and other items for your dipping pleasure. All of which are homemade by the staff and go great with everything from the fries to the burgers. If cheese fries are your thing W&SC gets many nominations for best in city and uses real Merkt's cheddar. More on them later. Different sauces available include curry ketchup, spicy aioli, Argentine herb and garlic and a few more goodies. The fries aren't the only thing they're cooking to a golden perfection over there.

The Deep Fried Pickle Chips-one of my favorite food items in Chicago

I mentioned above how the state fair is a great place to eat if you like fried food items. Well the same goes for the W&SC. Except whats great about the Wiener is its a year round operation. If your a frequent reader of this site than you can imagine I've been through quite alot of battered snacks in my lifetime. Well they all rank behind the deep fried pickle chips offered over there. I'm a big time pickle fan and was introduced to fried pickles while living in Tampa. Its definitely a southern thing that I am glad to see reach into the Midwest. Every beer bar in America should offer complimentary pickle chips. It doesn't end with just the pickles-country fried bacon is also a must get in my book. If those two aren't enough how about fried gyros? fried pepperoni chips? or have you ever had fried chili? Its all good at the Wiener. I wish they would do wings because I already know they would be some of the best anywhere with their frying ability and sauce making expertise.

Country Fried Bacon

Country Fried Gyros w/ BLT Dipping Sauce (Picture by Ed Fisher)

Please Note: Pic above from ehfisher's Chicago Food flickr account-Check it out!

Wheres pretty much the only place I'll ever order a corn dog outside of state fair grounds? you guessed it-W&SC. When Gus the owner decided to put a corn dog on the menu he only knew one thing was for sure-it wouldn't be a frozen pre-made frozen boring old piece of junk that tasted more like carpet than a carnival in your mouth. Gus decided to do a test tasting session using a few different batter recipes that he himself came up with. So he brought in a few people who know a thing or two about good food and soon thereafter the Dipping Dog was born. Its not just the perfect taste tested and approved breading that's used to hand dip the dog in but also the all beef hot dogs. Together they make these corn dogs Usain Bolt the competition around the country.

Dipping Dogs are so much better than corn dogs

Feel me yo! look in my eyes, see what I see, do what I do, eat what I eat...

It was four years ago this past July that the W&SC opened its doors to the people of Evanston and Chicago and we are all ready for 40+ more with more amazing menu items. I always said that the only suburb I could really live in is Evanston. You ever realize people from E-Town say they're from Evanston? Its also a nice little college town with some good eats and has a nice Jamaican population but the Wiener might one day be the reason I don't move there. I wouldn't last a month before going into cardiac arrest if I lived close to this foodies paradise. Its a must stop place to eat in Evanston. All parents going to parents weekend at Northwestern this fall better let your kids know where you want to eat. Check further down for address and website.

-Got beef?
The (Corn) Dogs of Chi

I must admit that before I tried the Wiener-I had a corn dog from Cameron's Delights that I thought was the best I had ever had. Cameron's is a little ice cream shop you might expect to find in a vacation resort town. It rests on the corner of Southport and Diversey so its right near me and I first tried it for some ice cream and a burger when it first opened a few years back.

a nice stop en route to the lake for families, friends and bikers

Its got the feel of an ice cream parlor located somewhere where there would be lots of families with children which I guess there are in this part of Lincoln Park so its a nice fit in my book. Please don't forget unless you've been here longer than 27 years its my book, not yours. My first visit I went ahead and got the first thing that caught my eye-the hot apple dumpling sundae with caramel, graham cracker crumbs and vanilla ice cream. I also had to try a burger because sometimes these parlors can make up a good old school cheeseburger. I took one for the team, no need to try the burgers. The sundae however was awesome and I went back for a few here and there and I rarely eat ice cream dessert. The hot apples paired with cold ice cream topped with graham cracker dust and whipped cream is a classic. It taste just like apple pie with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Hot Apple Dumpling Sundae

Turtle Sundae

So then on one of my visits for a sundae I saw this sign below posted in the windows. Looks like I was going to have to try one and see if they were any better than the frozen kinds served everywhere else.

Always a good sign

I ordered a corn dog and watched as the nice lady battered a Vienna Beef Hot Dog with some homemade batter from the fridge and then dipped it into the fryer. It came out looking and smelling real nice and I brought it into my car to eat so it could cool down and not burn the roof of my mouth. It took all of 20 seconds for the car to smell of a sweet aroma and so I couldn't wait anymore and took a nice big bite. The batter was very good and even though there was a hot dog in there it was so sweet that this along with some caramel hot apple dumplings on a sundae became my favorite dessert instantly.

corn dog from Cameron's

Get at me dog

Now go out and enjoy the rest of the summer and see what kind of regional eats you got.

Wiener and Still Champion
802 Dempster
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 869-0100

Myspace Page

Wiener and Still Champion on Urbanspoon

Cameron's Ice Cream & Grill
1401 W Diversey Pkwy
Chicago, IL 60614-1111
(773) 880-9119

Camerons Ice Cream & Grill on Urbanspoon


Nov said...

still champ looks bomb but athenian room's fries are better

web design company said...

Country fried gyros? Definitely trying it!

KingT said...

Well Nov, while AR has really good fries and the sauce is great, there just frozen steak fries made good with the sauce.

These are fresh cut and fries twice to come to crisp perfection and real potato taste

Im afraid its no contest although I do love the ARs fries.


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