Welcome to Burt's Food Blog

Hello I'm Burt Fleisher, a Chicago area restaurant lover who travels the USA extensively, and is always seeking out interesting and unique food wherever I may be. This Blog has become my photo-journal, chronicling most of my restaurant and dining experiences with a bit of humor added in to keep it light.

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Eat well and take care!

-Burt

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lake County Hot Dog joint taste off & results

This is a list of my Lake County Hot Dog taste off results from over the past year. As I put this list together I realized that this year was out of control!

Anyway , this is how it works; star ratings are on a scale of 1-5 possible with 5 being the best. And, no stars + no comments means I have them on my list to visit, but I just havent made it there yet.

1. 5-points Restaurant – 2505 Greenbay Rd North Chicago * * *
Good Gyros and a nice old skool hot dog stand atmosphere.

2. Big Bites - 573 E Il Route 173 Antioch, IL * * * ½
I really liked this place; they had a great Chicago sports team walls with lots of vintage 80's Bears stuff! Really made me feel like I was right in the city. When I ate there with the entire family, everything we had was good.

3. Big Jack’s * * * * *
By far the best place in Lake County...Period! In my book they own the following "Best of Lake County" categories: Hotdog, Italian Beef, Italian Sausage, Maxwell St. style Polish & the best darn French fries too! The Italian Ice and Burgers are also very impressive as well.

4. Big Norm’s **
These guys are new in town (2007), but the food isn’t very good. Stale hot dog buns, stale bread for the Italian beef which was overcooked and cut badly, the fries were re-fried probably for the 3rd or 4th time, dark and dried out. etc, etc. It just never got better, IMO, pride and quality are what’s really lacking here.

5. Browns Chicken – Gurnee, Round Lake Beach & Park City * *
Sort of OK, sort of not. Let’s face it, I’m glad they offer the Chicago menu, and the beef is great for take home parties etc, but to eat it there? Not really! They still do chicken best and the Chicago menu is just OK and not really their sweet spot.

6. Butchy's Hot Dogs-Beef Burgers - 3900 Washington St Gurnee, IL * *
Eh , nothing

7. Country Dog’s hot dogs – Rt 120 near Rt 45 (the red caboose next to the Arby’s); ***
It’s a little cute seasonal railroad car themed hot dog stand (this is their 2nd season I believe). The hot dogs are Vienna but of the skinless variety and not the more authentic natural casing type (which are vastly superior with that signature “snap”). The Maxwell Polish came on a huge Gonnella roll with grilled onion and mustard, the roll was too large, and it took away from the sausage and since it was a charred Vienna brand link it lacked the true flavor of the Southside anyway. This really made me regret that the Maxwell St Depot in Waukegan had not been able to survive, what a loss that was. Anyway back to the Country Dog, cute, more theme than substance, nice place to eat with the kids outside or if you’re passing by, not a top tier dog joint by any means.

8. Cuz Cuzine (Home Depot) Gurnee, IL * * * ½
Can’t sit there, can’t even stand! So what’s so great about them? They do just one thing, and one thing only, but they do it very well; hot dogs. It’s simple a hot dog cart/stand located at the exit of Home Depot in Gurnee, in fact, most Home Depot’s have them, but this one is just about the most consistent of the bunch. They serve Red Hot Chicago brand hot dogs and Supremo steamed tamales… It’s Good stuff!

9. Dog House - 2632 Washington St Waukegan, IL * * ½
You have to ask for “no ketchup” here, just for that, they flunk on assembly alone. I used to really like this place when they had the Southside Chicago dogs from David Berg, but now, they do a regular skinless Vienna. It’s too bad, they could really be so much more, it’s got a great diner vibe to the joint but the food is just OK.

10. Dog-N-Suds- Grayslake, Fox Lake/Ingleside * *

11. Fodraks

12. Franks & Fries - 38170 N Sheridan Rd Beach Park, IL

13. Fratellos * * *
I always feel like they are Portillo’s wanna-bees. But it’s a busy place with a good following, which keeps the food fresh and tasty.

14. Genesee Restaurant - 0 Stars!
The sign should read “Beware: STUPID at work”! This is the home of the hot dog taco!! Seriously, this place gets my award for the stupidest staff combined with worst hot dog in the entire Chicagoland metro area, that’s right; IT IS THE WORST! These boneheads serve up their hot dogs with lettuce, tomato cubes, ketchup and relish; it basically looks like a hot dog taco from Taco Bell! When asked what the hell is this? I ordered a Chicago style Hot Vienna dog, they said “sorry, buts that’s the way we do it in Waukegan, how did you want it?” I pointed at the proudly posted Vienna signage that graces both the counters & front windows and said”like that” to which they replied “oh, so that’s a Chicago dog? Sorry we don’t make them like that here”. I’m flunking these guys for not even being able to look at a picture and reproduce a simple hot dog, but I’m also warning anyone who is a true hot dog lover to avoid the Genesee Inn restaurant like the plague! Bottom line is, they don’t belong in the hot dog business, period!

15. Hoagie Hut - 2807 Grand Ave Waukegan, IL

16. Key Lime Cove

17. Lily’s – N Cedar Lake Rd Round Lake, IL * *
It’s a high school hangout, nothing to really write about pro or con on this one. The counter help seemed nice, the place was clean, prices seemed fair and they didn’t mess up the hot dog , OK?

18. Lukes – Mundelein, Lake Bluff * * *

19. Lukes (Belalukes) - 505 S Green Bay Rd Waukegan, IL * * *

20. Max’s Dog house – Libertyville **
I had high expectations for this place have heard from many trusted friends how good it was. And maybe that was a bad thing, since I wasn’t that blown away by the food. The hot dog was decent; my bun was so stale it crumbled while I ate it. The menu had fresh cut fries, and they were, but that was piror to the 3 deep fryer trips they went though before making onto my plate! They had a “Char Salami” sandwich on the menu, for those in the know this is a Skokie/Niles one of a kind specialty that to my knowledge only exists on the menu at Boobies anymore. Anyway I spotted this in the menu at Maxes and had to partake. I anxiously waited for my order to be made, and when I finally sat down and bit into it…it was AWFUL. They charred it alright and from the looks of it they lost control of the flame too, but that wasn’t the worst part, the salami was some off brand sliced into little thin salami circles, like what you would use for a deli sandwich and not as a chub that was sliced lengthwise into a patty, so that the bigger piece of meat could withstand a charring. I won’t be going back here with so many other places that are better.

21. Mitch’s Chicago Style Grill - 116 S Il-83, Grayslake, IL * * ½

22. Old Chicago Red Hot’s * * ½

23. Platos Corner - 31 S County St Waukegan, IL * *

24. Poppys 2 - 1535 Washington St Waukegan, IL

25. Portillos * * * *

26. Racer Dogs - 5101 Washington St # 2 Gurnee, IL

27. R-Dawgs - ***
Go for the Gyros. The hot dog was OK, my son found the cucumber to be a bit odd in a Chicago Style dog, but I didn’t mind. Overall, it’s an average dog, thin but decent fries, and Kronos Gyros done very well with tasty sauce.

28. Sam’s Club *
Sam’s went from Best kosher cooked badly, to Nathan’s of NY cooked horribly! It makes no damn sense.

29. Sammie’s – Grayslake, Lake Villa, Round Lake * *

30. Scott Dogs * * * ½

31. Scotty's Hot Dog Stand - 1016 N Cedar Lake Rd Round Lake Beach * * * *

32. Shirl's Drive In - 2132 N Lewis Ave Waukegan, IL

33. Slott’s Hots *

34. Sneaky Pete's on Gages Lake Rd & Rt 45; *** ½
Decent food, Pete seems like a great guy and is very friendly; I hope they stick around for awhile since that location has changed hands a ton of times over the years. He’s remodeled, painted and cleaned it up so that it now looks safe enough to eat at! I had the Gyros, Pete makes a wonderful Tzatziki sauce, unfortunately he is using Corfu brand Gyros (IMO they are way too greasy) but he chars them and slices them up real nice. The chili dog was very tasty and the hot dog was the real deal Vienna with the natural casing.

35. Stadium Hots- *
I want to like the little guys out there, I really, really do. But these guys are creeps! The same crappy attitude that they had as Slott’s is still there. I always get crusty looks here, lousy service and the order is rarely right. The fries are always double or triple fried so they always suck plus the food is just not that good. Last time I went there these jokers f’d up my Gyro’s order by putting the Tzatziki sauce on the meat instead of on the side as I had asked them to; and the remedy? They SCRAPPED off the sauce and then handed it back to me with yet another crusty look! Both my Wife and I wrote this place off that day.

36. Waukegan Gyros - 1120 Golf Rd Waukegan, IL (847) 775-0286

37. Waynes Pizza * *

38. Zabes - 1810 N Delany Rd Gurnee, IL * * * ½
This guy cares about the food, and he knows how to treat a customer. Zabe’s has the real snappy natural casing Vienna red hot, and they do everything very good. If I lived on the East side of Gurnee or in Waukegan, they would be my go-to place for hotdogs.