If you’re not familiar with the Vienna Beef Cafe at the factory on Damen between Fullerton and the river, perhaps that’s just as well. We like factory cantinas as much as the next guy (at the Anheiser-Busch factory in St. Louis, there are ways to artfully skip the tour and go straight to the tasting room, where your free entry tickets gets you two beers. When we were there, they didn’t card us! Which was exciting, even though we were over 21 at the time. Also, this is something of a different principle from the Vienna Beef Cafe, which doubles as the factory’s cafeteria), but the hot dogs here get perversely low marks.
LTHForum user “djenks” writes:
“The thing about the vienna beef cafeteria that boggles my mind is that, imo, the two most average things they have there are the hotdogs and fries. The fries are bad and the dogs just….are pretty average. Sure, they are vienna and really good - but the prep just doesn’t sit with me well.”
While we haven’t been ourselves, we just phoned the Café and the woman who answered the phone couldn’t have been less energetic or helpful. The Vienna hot dog is a fine raw ingredient, but treat it carelessly at your peril!
(In all fairness, djenks does say that sandwiches are generally good, and one would be hard-pressed to find a better place in Chicagoland to purchase uncooked Vienna hot dogs in bulk, especially the natural-cased version.)
Other hot dog options in the area:
• Hot Doug’s in Logan Square is an obvious choice; in addition to all the crazy foie-gras-style stuff they do, they also offer Vienna dogs
• What’s the Beef in Lincoln Park offers eponymous existential quandries, but also online ordering!
• Big Boy Gyros in North Center gets great reviews on MenuPages, and is said to be the best of its kind in the area
[Photo: they’re called sport peppers? Yes. (Vienna Beef - Building A Chicago Style Hot Dog)]