18 March 2006

Reason #1 i miss ann arbor

Reason #1 i miss ann arbor
Originally uploaded by deepfry.
ann arbor, home of many sports bars (more, it seems, each time i go back), is also home to Red Hot Lovers, a cramped and greasy chicago-style hotdog joint down the street from campus. if there is a heaven, i can promise you that it provides an unending supply of cheese fries from Red Hot Lovers. RHL is modeled on the traditional Chicago hot dog stand, found on an almost block-by-block basis in that fair city; the place is covered with chicago paraphenalia, always has blues on the radio and even has red vinyl booths...though not many of them. but i honestly believe that the cheese fries raise Red Hots a notch above even some of the finest chicago hot dog establishments (i say this knowing that my mother may actually disown me for uttering such blasphemy...but thats what she gets for raising me in the suburbs instead of the city).

i've only been back to ann arbor a handfull of times since graduating, but each time i make sure to stop at RHLs at least once...usually more. this time, i got a polish (with ketchup, mustard, neon green relish, tomatoes, a pickle, peppers, pepper and salt on a poppyseed bun), cheese fries and a small diet coke...a typical selection unless i'm, ahem, going for the second time in two days, in which case i'll go for the tofu dog instead of the polish because that really cuts down on the calories! abbey, who joined me for my first trip, got, more or less, the same stuff, differing only in the toppings on her polish.

i love love love Red Hot Lovers. if the choice was forced, i might pick Red Hots over oxygen. just writing about it now and looking at that picture of the polish is making my mouth water. how could it not. let's consider:

Red Hots:
polish sausage(served in a soft, warm poppyseed bun and piled high with toppings): the polish is grilled to perfection, slightly charred and suggesting crispiness on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside. placed in a slightly sweet white bread bun, covered with the perfect combination of sweet, spicy and salty toppings. each bite is a little bit of heaven.

cheese fries: waffle-cut fries smothered in melted cheddar (none of that fake cheese junk here), best with a touch of ketchup. a large is just big enough that two people can barely finish it, thus guaranteeting that no fights erupt over the last fry.

small diet coke: served in a waxy blue and white cup, the coke ever-so-slightly cuts the grease from the polish and cheesefries, making it easier to power thru the entire meal. a small isn't really enough, but there's something about waiting for the ice to melt at the end and getting a few slurps of watered down, waxy soda that provides an excellent close to a meal.

odorless, tasteless, invisible.

...okay, and also that which gives us life. but whatever.


Anonymous miranda said...

ooooooh. RHL's.
you're making me drool.

i have yet to find a satisfactory greasy spoon here in melbourne. my area is too yuppy.

i'm working on it. by the time you come to visit *hint* I'll be a regular at whatever fleetwood replacement i find.


6:37 PM  
Anonymous Ryan Dawe-Stotz said...

Huh, and here I've been thinking about not much for the past few days besides a Chicago hot dog, and this sounds damned similar, down to the colorful relish. Didn't know such things made it much outside of the city, but it gives me faith that the gospel of The Greatest Food That Ever Was will eventually make it out here to Eugene. In the meantime, I'll have to content myself with occasional shipments of dogs and condiments from Vienna Beef. Which isn't so bad at all, really.

Cool to find your blog. Food kooks are thin on the ground here.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Deepfry said...

hey ryan,
have you tried that hot dog place behind the safeway at 17th and oak (or something like that)? i keep meaning to try it but hvaen't made it over...i feel like i might be setting myself up for disappointment by even thinking that it might approximate what i'm looking for. anyways, glad ya found me! maybe all of us chicago folks should gather for our own chicago hot dog feast.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Ryan Dawe-Stotz said...

I have been to the place a few times. It's good, and they actually have all the toppings (save the relish, which is sweet but not the right color) for a Chicago dog down to the sport peppers and celery salt. But, no poppy seed buns and, more importantly, I don't think the dogs are natural casing, or if they are they don't possess the necessary snap of a Vienna Beef dog. They're also thicker than I like. That said, they are all-beef dogs, nicely seasoned, but if you're anything like me it'll half-satisfy you for a bit then make you want a real Chicago dog even worse. Like Chicago dog MSG syndrome.

For the most part, they do a good job with the sausages they make themselves (available for sale in a separate cooler), but sometimes authenticity isn't all it could be. For instance, their andouille is ground, not chopped, and definitely doesn't look smoked, let alone over pecan wood. (I'm a Louisiana boy, not a Chicagoan, but my love for Chicago knows no bounds.) Their linguica is tasty for what it is, but it's not likely to make you feel like you've been swept away to a dank Lisbon caldo joint when you eat it. German-style sausages are more successful, but then I usually make those myself or buy Usinger's. Despite all this, the place is worth a visit, as a good sausage can certainly be had, and it might help to have another local hounding him to switch to Vienna Beef dogs.

I am absolutely up for a Chicago dog party. I threw a few back in New Orleans and people went nuts. The perfectionist in me says wait until ripe local tomatoes show up, but the cherry tomatoes at Trader Joe's are cheap and very, very good, so we could do this soon.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sure you grew up in the suburbs, but what about michael's -- and their great cheese fries -- which some people suspect is Merkt chees spread melted, for a recipe tip -- and stash's -- and big herms in skokie and the ORIGINAL big herms in skokie (a block apart on Dempster -- not in chicago, but all wonderful

3:36 PM  
Blogger Deepfry said...

dear "anonymous",
Big Herms? what's that? why did we never go there? how could i have missed a place called "Big Herms"? it sounds vaguely like an std: "oh, he's got a case of the big herms. poor guy." but i'm sure its great!

and ryan, yay chicago party! i can have my mother (ahem!) send me some chicago style pizzas from malnatis and we can !!! i love it! email me: breakstone@hotmail.com.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Deepfry said...

miranda/pirate dentist,
what with my ever-growing frequent flyer miles, this future trip is looking better and better every day. but not until you've found a melbourne-style greasy spoon.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous mirnanda said...

awesome. it looks like i'll be here for at least 18 months... i mean: hurry! i might leave at any time!

i'm always on the lookout for a good greasy spoon. a good quote to encourage you would be this one from the other night:

3am cellphone call

"hey! where are you?"
"i'm at the falafel joint, where are you?"
"i'm at the souvlaki king... wait. you must be at the one next door.... ... ... no. where are you?"
"oh. i see you. i'm across the road"

i live in the world of 24hour coffee shops and souvlaki. mmhmmm.

i also ate dumplings till i burst yesterday for $4.40. yep.


11:18 PM  
Blogger Zahrala said...

Here in Rochester, NY we have 'white hots' which are delicious pork hot dogs. I may never go back to regular reds.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Deepfry said...

i hear rochester also has something called the Garbage Plate...have you had one? i guess they're served at a restaurant called nicks.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Zahrala said...

I've had a Garbage Plate at Gitsi's but not the original at Nick Tahou's. It's on my list of things to do :) For further information check out rocwiki's info on the garbage plate

9:18 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

that all sounds pretty damn amazing!

I found your blog while doing a search for Butter Burgers, and I am loving it!

I'm curious, you said in your butter burger post that you where going to get a chance to go to the real Solly's...did you go? was it everything you imagined?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Alas, no self-respecting Chicago hot dog would ever be seen in public wearing ketchup.

anonymous, there are two Herms? I've been to the yellow-and-red standalone building on Dempster in Skokie. And a few blocks west is another great joint, Poochie's. Where is the other Herm's?

12:46 AM  
Blogger Deepfry said...

sadly, i didn't get to solly's. i'm sure i had a good reason. but its a tragedy, nonetheless. next time i'm in chicago, i'll have to go!

its true, i like my chicago hotdogs with ketchup. i've been away from home for too long, i guess. i'm getting soft.


10:55 PM  
Anonymous Ryan Dawe-Stotz said...

Ooh ooh ooh! Look what I found!


Don't know if they're skinless or natural casing (they were boiled and on a roller, and jeebus knows what that does to them), but at least this means they're available here. In fact I may pack the necessary supplementary condiments in a bag and go get one right now.

And, um, I don't ordinarily patronize Target. Had to spend the rest of a wedding shower gift card there. Honest.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken -
There used to be two big herms - both on dempster -- big herms and the original big herms and I have seen a big herms on madison maybe washington in the loop -- on a street that is one way going east just east of the bridge over the chicago river

8:33 PM  
Anonymous extramsg said...

I'm in the midst of hot dog tasting up here in Portland. Most of the decent places seem to do a Chicago style dog with all the usual toppings, even celery salt. When I get done, perhaps one will catch your fancy and you'll have to make the drive. (Favorite so far is the Chicago style dog from Zach's Shack with a red hot substituted for an all beef dog.)

8:43 PM  
Blogger Deepfry said...

hey extramsg,
do let me know what the verdict is. are you trying fries too?

10:20 PM  
Anonymous extramsg said...

No, not bothering with fries. Most of these places don't really specialize in them, I don't think. I did try Zach's fries and they were fine. Crinkle cut, a bit too soft in the middle, but crisp. Still had a little bit of that freezer taste, though. Sort of reminded me of the Ore-Ida fries we'd make as a kid. Okay, though. I always try fries on my burger tastings, though.

I'm also debating chili dogs. On the one hand, I doubt many of these places are doing their own chili and if not, then what the hell do I care. Might as well just taste the dog since they'll all be about the same on the chili. I think I might just save tastes of chili dogs for places that have them.

I am trying to have some consistencies, though, like always typical kosher style all beef dogs and specialties of the house.

I wish I had some experience with New York hot dogs, but all my experience is with Chicago dogs and dogs in DC (which were pretty much always Vienna Beef and half-smokes).

12:04 AM  
Anonymous extramsg said...

"I think I might just save tastes of chili dogs for places that have them."

I meant "...places that make their own."

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got caught up reading the Portland hot dog debate and somehow landed on your post.

I am rarely interested in returning to A2, but Red Hot Lover's would be my first stop if I had to go. It was so close to East Quad that we'd stop there at least once a week on the way to class.

I remember deciding to become a vegetarian with a friend of mine and realizing that, as long as RHL was close by, we couldn't make it happen until after graduation!

So, thanks for reminding me of how much I miss the waffle fries and dogs. Mine always had to come with Frank's Red Hot sauce!

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god...such an idiot. CLANCY'S sauce. Developed right in Ann Arbor.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Vicki Jean said...

There is nothing in Portland that compares with RHL, nothing. Zak's isn't bad, neither is Superdog, but neither of them do a good substantial chili that could be eaten on its own. Wynn's has decent chili, but it's a cart. And the places that serve Vienna Beef dogs take shortcuts with other items. It's a doggone shame.

Did you hear that the courtyard apartment building next door is going to be knocked down for lofts?

10:06 AM  
Blogger AGoodman said...

Your wait is over. Goodman's Hotdogs is opening up, this summer, at 16th and Willamette. I'm going to be selling authentic chicago dogs, real vienna beef, steamed poppy seed bun, relish, onions, mustard, pickle, maybe some tomato. Topped with fresh made fries and a soda. Look for us this summer at 16th and Willamette, in the parking lot of the Veterans Memorial Building.

No official website yet, just a facebook group:

Seeya soon.

4:14 PM  
Blogger AGoodman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:15 PM  
Blogger E Flo said...

Yay I was there today.
RHL is the BEST. EVER.

1:43 PM  

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