Two Hands is one of the deep-fried Korean style corndog joints that popped up all over the city in the last couple of years. This was the first time I ever tried one of them. I didn’t like it. Too sweet and too doughy, despite the beef dog inside being good quality.
Portillo’s is a Chicago mainstay, so it was only natural that it was our very first stop on a trip to Chicago last weekend.
We ordered two Chicago classics, the Chicago style hot dog (poppy seed bun, sport pepper, yellow mustard, relish, pickle, etc), and the Italian beef sandwich (shaved beef with giardiniera).
The dog was pretty much perfect. I would have liked more sport peppers, but hey. No complaints otherwise.
This was my first time having a proper Chicago Italian beef sandwich, and I was blown away. The dip into Italian herb infused gravy is the perfect way to finish this sandwich, and the spicy giardiniera is the perfect way to get pickled flavors into it. I added some shredded mozzarella for good measure. This is different from a Philly cheesesteak for sure, but I like it much better. It’s more about the beef!
We also tried the chocolate cake shake and the frozen custard, both of which were great desserts.
On a second trip, we did the Polish sausage. Excellent.
When I first went to New Orleans in 2009, my wife and I walked by this little dive diner joint a bunch of times and kept contemplating going in to try a burger. It looks like just the kind of place where you might find something fantastic. A hidden gem, so to speak.
They even claim to have the best burger in the world.
The menu is actually funny to read. Check it out.
You can actually see the hubcaps they use.
So we had to get it.
But look at the menu description for the hot dog.
So we had to get it.
Well, despite all the excitement, these two items didn’t quite deliver. They were just okay. But I do love the atmosphere here – a very small old style diner, open 24 hours.
Even complete with slices of pie. Here’s the ice box key lime pie, which was actually great.
Gray’s is a NYC institution. I believe the chain has dwindled down to one remaining shop, on Broadway & 72nd Street. There are/were a few knock-off versions, if I recall, like Mike’s Papaya and Papaya King, but Gray’s is the one and only. Get it while you still can, if you feel the overwhelming need to try one.
They’re known for cheap-ass grilled “franks,” which are essentially their snappy lips-and-assholes hot dogs slapped on a bun, which are then guzzled down with some fruit slush type exotic drinks. The juices are pure sugar deliciousness.
When I was in law school, the “Recession Special” was $2.75 for two dogs and a small drink. Fast forward 15 years and we are still in a recession, yet the price for the special is now $5.75.
These fuckers will give you heartburn, stinky burps, and the runs, but they’re great in a bind or when you’re in a hurry …or when you are completely fucking wasted.
Harlem Shake is a cool little diner/burger spot up on 125th & Lenox.
Also… It’s this:
Anyway, my wife and I grabbed a sweet deal for this place through Amazon Local. I think we paid about $8 or $10 for $20 worth of food. Taking the new subway fare hike into account, though, we nearly broke even with 4 x $2.75 to get there and back for two people. So we made it worth our trip by buying a fuckload of food. Here’s an aerial view of what we ordered:
That’s $39 worth of delicious.
First was the classic burger:
This was constructed with two thin patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and special sauce. It was perfect on the soft potato bun. Really good job. A much better tasting burger than their two thin patty competitor Steak & Shake, though I’m not sure I’d venture all the way up to Harlem for this when Steak & Shake is literally a stone’s throw down Broadway from us.
Next up, the classic fried chicken sandwich:
This had crunchy slaw on it, and pickles, but I think it was in desperate need of mayo. They have some next to the registers, so make sure you grab a packet or two if you order this. I liked it, but was sort of expecting a more juicy, thicker piece of chicken.
Let’s keep it rolling here with this amazing “jerk dog:”
This snappy, tasty dog was topped with pickled slaw, diced jalapeños, pork rinds and jerk sauce (not to be confused with semen, jizz, boy batter, man mayo, or cum). The pork rinds added a really interesting crunch element, and the hot dog bun was of the perfect pillowy potato variety.
Our last entrée item was the cherry pepper and bacon relish grilled cheese, sandwiched between two buttery and toasty slices of good old-fashioned white bread.
This was sweet, spicy, tangy crunchy and gooey all at once. Such a nice concoction. I’ll definitely be trying to make these at home soon.
The fries were nice. A natural cut style, nicely seasoned without going overboard, and with a decent crispy crunch to them. They could have been better, but I wasn’t complaining.
For our first drink we had a watermelon cooler, which was delicious. I was half expecting some sugary, diabetic coma-inducing watermelon “drank,” but this was a delicious, natural tasting watermelon juice. Not too sweet, not too pulpy, and extremely refreshing. Big fan of this:
Next, of course, was a vanilla shake. At nearly $6 I was expecting a let down, but this was a good size and it had great flavor. It was light and easily suckable – like a guy with a 2-inch pecker, and unlike some joints where they basically give you soft serve ice cream in a cup and expect you to blow an aneurism trying to suck the shit through a 3mm diameter straw. Fuck that. This was ready to go; no melt-wait time needed. Nicely executed:
So that’s that. Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this place. If you live nearby, it is definitely worth a visit. If, however, like me, you will need to get on public transit to make it here, then make sure you try to score a coupon first… and go with the intention of delving into a ton of grub to make it worth your trip. Go for and gorge thyself!
So here is another recipe for your meat eating needs. This time we are exploring the wonderful world of tubed meat; the hot dog. This recipe and technique has NEVER let me down when entertaining guests. It’s cheap, easy, and fucking scrum-diddly-umptious. In short this is the best fucking hot dog meal you will ever eat in your entire meaningless life. I call it the Chesapeake Dog.
• the cheapest canned beer you can find
• half sour pickles
• hot dogs (preferably ones that plump while boiling)
• iceberg lettuce
• dijon mustard
• sri racha sauce
• old bay seasoning
• bay leaves
• garlic powder
• onion powder
• chili powder
• corn on the cob
• large boiling pot
• serving plate
• a healthy sense of dick joke humor
Get a big boiling pot out onto your stove and dump an equal ratio of beer and water into it to serve as the base of your boiling liquid (for you complete idiots out there, that means three cans of beer and three cans of water, or six and six depending on how much you are making). I like to use Schaefer since it is usually under $7 for a 12-pack at my grocery store. Occasionally I will use Guinness as well, but that is kind of a waste of good beer, in my opinion.
Add your spices to the liquid – a few heaps of old bay, a few bay leaves, a healthy amount of pepper, onion powder and garlic powder too. You can drop an onion in there too if you have an extra laying around. Cut it up a bit so you can use it later rather than having a full soggy onion lapping around in there. Add your hot dogs and corn on the cob into the liquid and bring to a boil.
The corn is key here, because it adds a sweetness to the cooking liquid that will balance out the heat from the sauce you will make down below. Plus, nothing beats a good boiled corn on the cob as a side for your meat dish… except maybe more meat. Bust the corn in half if the pot is smaller.
While waiting for the dogs to blow up, you can prep your garnishes, fixings and sauces.
Slice the lettuce thinly, like the shredded lettuce you see at the sandwich shop. Slice your pickles and jalapenos long ways so that you can stretch them along the length of the hot dog buns when you assemble the dogs later on. Gather all ye sliced items neatly on a fixings plate and keep it all in the fridge until the dogs are done.
Now for the spicy onion hot dog sauce. First, thinly slice up an onion or two so that rings or long strips are formed (don’t chop, in other words). Leave some aside for raw garnish or toppings – add them to the fixings plate. With the remainder, you can chop into smaller bits if you like, but either way you must throw them in a small sauce pan on medium heat with a little olive oil at the bottom. Sweat them down so they get a little soft, and then lower the heat to simmer. At this point you can also add in the onion that is boiling away with the hot dogs too, or you can leave that for additional toppings later. Next add lots of ketchup so that the onions are covered. Stir often while trying to maintain light bubbling pops on the top. You dont’ want it boiling like crazy – just an occasional bubble. You’ll also want to add sri racha chili paste to your desired spice level during this phase as well.
Slam a Schaefer. Shotgun it if you still consider yourself a man. Get a good buzz going for yourself; after all, you deserve it. You have a huge pair of balls and a hot dog of your own swinging between your legs. When you are born blessed with equipment like that, there is a lot of responsibility that comes along with it. Slamming beers is one of those few male responsibilities than we can also take joy in at the same time. So drink up. The only place you need to go today is your backyard. Shit man, get tanked if you want.
Once the dogs are nice and fat, you can shut the heat before they start to split and burst. Don’t pluck them out of the water, however, until you are ready to assemble them on the buns. If desired, you can throw the dogs on the grill for some char flavor, but it is totally not necessary since these dogs will pack a nice flavor punch as is.
Remove the corn and onions with the tongs, letting them drip dry before transferring to a serving plate. Keep the onions along the side like a garnish, but coat both the onions and corn with a little chili powder.
Now you will get the hot dog factory ready; you will become a one man conveyer belt of meat. Here’s how you set them up for best eating practice:
Open bun, place pickle and jalapeno down first. Then create a nice cushion of shredded lettuce for the hot dog to sit on. Add the dog, and then top with the onion sauce and one or two thin slices of raw onion. Throw on a little dijon mustard and you are ready to rock.
Why all this work for a simple hot dog meal, you ask? Because they’re fucking better this way. The standard hot dog has no texture aside from the initial skin snap when you bite the dog, and that is almost disgusting. This method gives you hot and cold, it gives you crunch and softness, and it gives you sweet and heat, along with a really amazing grouping of flavors in general. So fuck this boring ass hot dog:
As always, eat… and then shit. As a side note, make sure you crack an inappropriate amount of dick jokes throughout the entire cooking, eating and shitting processes.