Hot Doug's is a Chicago-based restaurant, specializing in hot dogs and other encased meats. The self-proclaimed "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium" is in its second location at 3324 North California Avenue in the city's Avondale neighborhood. Its first location, on Roscoe Street, closed after a 2004 fire.
Hot Doug's features a diverse and rotating menu that includes the traditional Chicago dog, to more exotic items such as the "Game of the Week", a rotating selection of game-animal sausages. The menu also features several specials that rotate over time. Some specials that have been featured include Calvados Infused Duck Sausage with Apple Mustard; Beef and Lamb Gyros Sausage with Artichoke Tzatziki, Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese; and White Wine and Dijon Rabbit Sausage with Sauce Moutarde and Tilsiter Cheese. The restaurant's purveyor and head chef, Doug Sohn, has been mentioned in the Chicago media alongside well-known culinary personalities, like James Beard and Rick Bayless, for his work to create affordable gourmet food.
Hot Doug's won a 2006 Good Eating award from the Chicago Tribune, which noted the restaurant's "cult status" among hot dog aficionados. Hot Doug's has been featured as a Critics Pick on CBS, NBC, ABC, and the Travel Channel. He has also been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Bon Appetit, The Chicago Tribune, The Sun Times, Time Out Chicago and many other publications. Hot Doug's is highly rated by The Zagat Survey and is included in many of its Top Lists including Food Tops and Best Buys. Bon Appetit listed it as one of the 50 Best Restaurants on the Planet. The editors of Citysearch Chicago named Hot Doug's the 2006 Editorial Winner for Best Chicago Hot Dog. The restaurant also received a 2007 Best Hot Dog honors in a reader poll conducted by the magazine Time Out Chicago.
The restaurant was in the news due to its use of foie gras, which the city of Chicago banned in 2006. The ban had been pushed by Chicago chef Charlie Trotter and Alderman Joe Moore. Trotter entered into a public debate with Doug Sohn and other Chicago restaurateurs, arguing that the making of foie gras constituted cruelty to animals. Sohn, the owner of Hot Doug's, was eventually fined $250 and 30 pounds of foie gras were confiscated from the restaurant. While Sohn may not have enter the argument to garner publicity, the restaurant did benefit from the controversy. Sohn was the first in the city to be fined, though a city spokesman stated that enforcement of the ordinance was "one of our lowest priorities". The ban was repealed in May of 2008 and the foie gras dog was brought back into the rotating menu lineup. The restaurant continues to serve its specialty french fries, which are cooked in duck fat.