Gapers Block held its first ever hot dog contest in the parking lot of Schuba’s on July 13, and, fortunately, it didn’t involve competitive eating. Rather, it was a delicious and food-coma inducing cook-off featuring five local restaurants and their encased meat creations.
The rules were simple: make something tasty using a Vienna Beef hot dog. Even a bun wasn’t required, which gave the contenders a bit of freedom for their entries.
While Portuguese restaurant Fat Rice chefs weren’t present, Gapers Block Drive Thru did its best with what it had: a Thai sauce over a skewer of hot dogs, veggies, and fruit. Messy? Yes. But also unique? Most definitely.
The Haute and The Dog also got creative with how it served their entry. Everything - including their popular Dr. Pepper pulled pork - went into a tortilla, which then went into a snowcone cup.
Surprisingly, Kuma’s Corner didn’t use any burger meat, but it did use a hearty five spice chili and a broccoli slaw, because if the Avondale restaurant knows how to do anything right, it’s toppings.
Other contenders went the fried route. For one, Harmony Grill served a bacon-fried hot dog that was topped with jalapeno pepper jam, Monterey jack, and Cheetos-fried onions. Yup, you’re reading that right. Cheetos on a hot dog? Yes, please.
While all of these Gapers Block hot dog cookoff contenders were delicious in their own right, it was ManBQue - a men’s barbecue club - who took home top dog honors. And these guys deserved it, considering all the thought they put into their Vienna Beef creation. Not only was the hot dog wrapped in smoked serrano bacon, but it was topped with such ingredients as avocado crema, red and black beans, pickled onions, queso fresca, and so much more.
Not only did the judges - Hot Doug’s Doug Sohn, Author Bruce Kraig, and “The Food Dude” David Lissner - name ManBQue the first place winner, but so did the people, who could all partake in “Chicago-style” voting by stuffing the ballot. Every dollar gave ManBQue another vote, because, after all, this hot dog cookoff was a fundraiser benefiting the literacy organization Reach Out and Read Illinois.
The judges also chose The Haute and The Dog for third place, and Harmony Grill for the second place, while the people’s choice awards named Harmony Grill as number three and Kuma’s Corner for number two.
Were you at the cookoff? Which hot dog was your favorite?
Or, did you miss the contest? Have no fear. Since it’s National Hot Dog Month, there’s encased meat treats in abundance throughout Chicago.
© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2013
Have a question or tip about the world of hot dogs? Email Elizabeth here.