Saturday, March 19, 2011

Top Dog Hot Dogs - The Name Says It All

I remember a couple of years ago when Caleb Robinson first started selling hot dogs from his cart in downtown Racine. He called his operation Top Dog Hot Dogs. At first, the city tried to stymie him with petty rules and regulations. I, and many others, cheered Caleb on in online comments. Wisely, the city relented and allowed the cart to stay. By winter, Caleb had an indoor location, too, in the food court at 520 Monument Square.

I don’t know how many times I drove by that cart and thought to myself, “I have to try a dog one of these days.” But I didn’t, until yesterday. I was driving down Wisconsin Avenue, thinking about food, when I suddenly realized I was in Top Dog’s territory. I parked and walked to the food court’s rear door, directly across the street from Kewpee’s restaurant.

I lived in Chicago for ten years and while there I became a hot dog snob. I only like Chicago style hot dogs now, and I only like them done right. I’ve suffered through some pale (and sometimes weird) imitations in Racine and elsewhere. After all the raves I’ve heard about Top Dog, I figured that if anybody in town can get it right, it should be them.

At Top Dog’s counter, I ordered a Chicago style dog. And, much to my delight, that is exactly what I received. It was superb. In fact, it was perfect. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve had a good Chicago style hot dog and I’m overreacting, but I’d say that the only thing missing from the hot dog I ate yesterday was the sound of the El overhead. I heartily recommend Top Dog’s Chicago style hot dog. I’m also going to go out on a limb and recommend all of their hot dogs. Anybody who can make a perfect Chicago style hot dog can make any other kind, too.

I noticed from their menu that Top Dog also offers Italian beef sandwiches. That is another taste I acquired in Chicago. When I can afford it, I’m trying one of those next. If they do Italian beef as well as they do Chicago style hot dogs, I may seek residence above the food court.

Top Dog Hot Dogs, 520 Main St. (Monument Sq.), Racine, 262-637-7043

Here’s their Facebook page:

Below are scans of their menu:


Sassa said...

I've tried to make hot dogs taste as good as the ones at a ball park. I steamed them, broiled them, baked them..and nothing. There is something about the ambience. It has to be in a ball park. I also tried the brand Ball Park but to no avail. I like them plain, no goodies on them. Maybe I'll try these next time I'm at Lakeview.

Why Not? said...

I remember reading something maybe last summer that he was going to try to have a cart in Island park during the week.. I wonder if he is doing that or should I say allowed to do it.. I would love it as we live really close by, I could definitely support him then..

OrbsCorbs said...

Now that you mention it, I remember that, too, Why Not. I don't think he did it, though, but I'm not sure.

Sassa, they never taste as good at home as they do bought elsewhere. Chicago style lovers swear it's the Vienna beef wiener that makes it. I don't know if that's what Top Dog uses, but my dog was great. I'm going there again.

jedwis said...

Thanks for the info, Orbs. I too spent many a lunch time while working in Chicago enjoying Chicgo style dogs. My favorite was the chain of carry out places called "Bozo's". Had all the fixen even cucumbers, and NO ketchup. "Dog & Suds" had some good dogs too. And great root beer. The car hops were also a nice feature, if you get my drift.

lizardmom said...

ok, you'll have to enlighten me, I have heard of Chicago style hot dogs, does that refer to the kind of hot dog itself , how it's topped or both? I'll have to check them out :)

jedwis said...

Lizard. As Orbs mentioned it is the vienna beef that is used and the variety of unique toppings, but NO ketchup. Also the buns were poppy seed, so you had to be careful no drug tests after lunch. Wait that was before drug testing, it was the time of the "martini" lunch.

kkdither said...

Not a fan of the wiener or the associated mystery meat. I'm a burger and a beer kinda gal.

jedwis said...

No brats KK? i agree some dogs have that "mystery" meat attachment to them, but the vienna beef solves that problem, I think. Given a choice, I tend to go for the burgers has well, and maybe a beer, or two to wash it down. lol

OrbsCorbs said...

To me a Chicago dog is as jedwis said, Vienna beef (steamed or hot water, never boiled), poppy seed bun (often steamed), mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickle/cucumber, often peppers, often celery salt, but NEVER ketchup.

On Friday afternoons and Saturdays, this old guy with a hot dog cart sold them on a corner down the street from the auto repair shop I worked at in Chicago. Delicious! Devil Dogs are also good. And I'm trying to remember the name of the joint near the shop. They had fantastic Italian beefs. In Chicago, there's a hot dog/Italian beef/gyros/burger/whatever stand on every other corner of major streets.

kk, Top Dog has Polish sausage, Italian sausage, Italian beef and Johnsonville brats besides hot dogs. They also offer a turkey dog and a tofu/vegetarian dog (omg, yuck).

SER said...

I can make a pretty good chili dog, messy, but good. And the dog makes all the difference, you have to use quality weenies.

kkdither said...

I can eat them... just not a big fan. If you grill the crap out of a brat so the grease is gone, then one or two a year hits the spot. (beer in hand is a must)

I think as a kid I just had my fill. My mom was a fan of sausage. She had to be to feed all of us as kids on a limited budget... the worst (or should I say wurst?) was the ring balogna she cooked, then ground up with pickle relish for sandwiches... eek, still gives me shivers.

I wish this guy the best. Small business is not easy and is definitely something good for a city.

drewzepmeister said...

Chili dog with cheese! Mmmmm!