I once heard it somewhere, someplace that a person can never experience a great hot dog until he/she has had a Chicago hot dog ... Or, as those in the know would say, a Chicago red hot. Whether that's true or not is debatable, but seeing that we won't be in the Windy City anytime soon, we're glad to have a place like Wayne's Chicago Red Hots to visit when in Portland, Oregon.
Now, as far as I can tell, Wayne's Chicago Red Hots opened their dine-in location on the Northeast side of the city roughly three years ago. Before that, they generated a loyal fan following via a converted bread truck that was based primarily in St. Helens. Regardless of their history, it's become no secret that they've been serving heaven on a bun for some time. Just take a look at what "the people" have been saying:
"... Could easily be found in the shadow of Wrigley Field." - The Oregonian
"Best dog in town!' - Willamette Week
"With a Red Hot in one fist and an Old Style in the other, the distance between Portland and Chicago can be crossed, just like 'dat.' Wayne's Chicago Red Hots have it all, plus huge flavor ..." - Portland Mercury
After walking into the place, two things immediately hit us square in the face: the distinctive aroma of all beef franks being made to order and the wall-to-ceiling decor of sports paraphernalia. White Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and most notably, the Cubs are all represented in pictures, uniform jerseys, clipped articles, cards, spent tickets, and any thing else seemingly under the sun. It's enough to leave any Chicagoan proud.
But it's their menu that leaves you in awe with no less than thirteen different red hot varieties, each brandishing a colorful name such as the Five Holy Martyrs, the Al Capone, the Barack Obeef, the Little Leaguer, the Pulaski Polish, and the Chicago Firedog. All of their selections feature franks, polish sausage, or brats from Vienna Beef, and each order includes a hefty helping of their famous fries.
The kids each put down a Lil' Willy Chili Dog, which included an all beef frank, a slathering of beanless chili, a helping of cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of crisp onions. It's recommended that you eat this one with a fork, but the kids threw that out the window and just chowed down. As the guys behind the counter noted, "If something ain't gettin' dirty, like your face, it ain't worth eating."
For us, we elected to go with their signature dog, the Chicago Red Hot, which featured an all beef frank that was "dragged thru da garden with yellow mustard, onions, neon green relish, tomato wedges, sport peppers, a dill pickle, and served on a steamed poppy seed bun." In a word, yummmmmmm!
And if that wasn't enough incentive for you, I understand that in the month of September, they close the street alongside of the storefront to play host to what they call the Chi-Town Chowdown, an all-day fest that features live music, prize giveaways, tons of food, and fun for the whole family.
So, what are you waiting for? Train, plane, car, bike, or bus ... The PDX and Wayne's Chicago Red Hots are dialin' you in!