The place that makes me pine for Chicago is Windy City Red Hots—not because its dogs are so bad but because they’re so good. The operation was born out of desperation, according to owner Angel Miranda, a native Chicagoan whose cravings for hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches had become a preoccupation. His homesickness led him to start a food truck, which is still parked most days outside a nursery in Ashburn (20052 Lexington Dr.; 703-505-6934). Last year, he opened the Leesburg storefront restaurant, his first.
Replicating the taste of his hometown dog isn’t that hard, Miranda says—it’s mostly a matter of shopping and assembly. He buys only Vienna beef dogs (most Chicago purveyors use Vienna) and gets his condiments from the same suppliers the dog joints in Chicago use. But shopping and assembly also require passion and knowledge, and Miranda has both.
Digging into his Chicago dog—with its deep-green relish, firm hit of celery salt, and poppyseed bun—transported me to a bleacher seat at Wrigley Field.
This is an excerpt from an April 2011 story called Out of the Ballpark. To see the rest of the article and a photo slideshow of hot dogs, click here.