Jun 2, 2013

A Chicago fast food sampler – Part Three: Wiener’s Circle

Before I continue my series of Chicago fast food joints, I want to thank my faithful followers (all five of them) for all the kind words about this blog over the past week.  It’s very gratifying to know people are reading and seem to like my slant on things.  It has definitely helped me get out of a personal funk and hopefully broken the writer’s block I've had over the past couple of months. 

On to stop #3 on my Chicago fast food binge with the Young Curmudgeon – Wiener’s Circle. 

I chose Wiener’s Circle in part because I wanted to make sure I had at least one classic Chicago-style hot dog on our road trip and its location on North Clark Street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood made it easy to get to from the Chicago History Museum, which was also on the itinerary. 

The interior is small … there’s more seating outside than inside, but it’s not like you’re going there for sit-down table service.  In fact, if you're eating inside at all, you're perched on a stool along one of the railings and looking out a window.  From the windows you get a view of either life going by on Clark or the pawn shop that seems appropriately placed next door.  The menu is basic – hot dogs, burgers, polishes and fries.  You place your order at the window with one of the surly staff members and watch them go to work. 

The grill is all fired up and ready to go!
One thing Wiener’s Circle is famous for is char-grilling its hot dogs and hamburgers.  I found the charring added a good smoky flavor to the hot dog itself, and it works really well with all of the standard trimmings piled onto the dog, which is split before it’s placed in the bun.  Here’s the finished product:

It’s definitely a top-notch Chicago dog.  As for the Young Curmudgeon, he ordered a char burger and fries and reported similar satisfying results. 

The other thing Wiener’s Circle is famous for, which I was unable to experience since we ate there in the middle of the afternoon, is its late night atmosphere.  From what I gather, the staff kicks up the natural surliness a few hundred decibels, and the verbal abuse slung between employees and patrons becomes part of the fun.  It’s part show therapy and part self-punishment for a night of drunken debauchery. 

This may, in my mind, make Wiener’s Circle the perfect late-night food spot after a night of drinking in Lincoln Park.  It definitely intrigues me enough to want to make a return trip on a late weekend night and order a “chocolate shake.”  I just won’t bring the Young Curmudgeon with me. 

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