I have a t-shirt from a restaurant in Chicago (the hot dog capital fo the world), called Hot Doug's (the best hot dog restaurant I have ever been to), that reads, "There are no two finer words in the English language than "encased meats," my friend."
I couldn't agree more. I'm a sucker for dogs, brats, polish sausage, hot links, red hots, frankfurters, knockwurst (or any other kind of wurst), Italian sausage, andouille, linguisa, chicken sausage and any other ground meat you can shove in a natural casing. I do, however, draw the line and any sort of vegan, tofu, or wheat-meat dogs. In this case, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.
This weekend I stopped by Pug's Dog House here on Wilmington Ave. in Dayton. I have been frequenting here ever since they opened a few years ago. Pug's is a place that makes a great dog, using Vienna Beef dogs, a Chicago staple. They are nice people that run a small, relatively clean operation (how clean do you really want a hot dog joint?).
My buddy Drew and his kids joined my daughter and me. The kids all had plain dogs, but Drew and I got some house specialties. Chicago dog and a chili and cheese for me ( with a chaser of Pepcid later that afternoon). Both were excellent, although I miss the poppy seed bun for a proper Chicago dog. The Pug's Chicago dog has all the standards including neon green relish, tomato, pickle and sport peppers, but with the addition of french fries on top. This is a real winner with one caveat: the fries are the only downside here. Pug's has the best intentions, cutting their fries fresh. However, they only give them a single trip through the fryer, wasting the effort. Frankly, they would be better with frozen fries. Luckily, I usually judge people on their intentions, and this is a good one, just please...double fry.
Drew got a slaw dog and mini burgers. I didn't try them this time, but the Pug's slaw dog is one of the great treats of Dayton. Creamy, tangy coleslaw is the perfect foil for snappy Vienna Beef dogs. Just thinking about it gives me a reason to go back.