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Hot Dog Island Skokie - Not Great Beef

Hot Dog Island Skokie - Not Great Beef
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  • Hot Dog Island Skokie - Not Great Beef

    Post #1 - April 11th, 2006, 9:56 pm
    Post #1 - April 11th, 2006, 9:56 pm Post #1 - April 11th, 2006, 9:56 pm
    A coworker was in town from NJ for a client meeting, and I took him out for a Chicago lunch. I originally was going to take him to Burt's Place (just two blocks from our meeting), but we didn't get out of the meeting until 1:45, 15 minutes too late for Burt's lunch.

    So I drove east on Dempster looking for inspiration. He's not into Asian food at all (which I thought was a condition for employment at our company), and decided to try Hot Dog Island.

    I ordered a beef, hot, and he ordered two hot dogs. When asked what he wanted on it, he countered with "What are the choices?" After being presented the typical Chicago list (plus kraut) he said "Ketchup and pickles" and turned on his heel to find the loo.

    Needless to say, the counterman and I severely mocked him for his choices.

    The beef was very flavorful, and also very tough. I had to spit out a hunk. A fair amount of gristle along the edge of a couple of pieces marred an otherwise tasty sandwich.

    Fries were excellent: large-bore, crisp and very spuddy.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - April 12th, 2006, 1:34 pm
    Post #2 - April 12th, 2006, 1:34 pm Post #2 - April 12th, 2006, 1:34 pm
    I like this place, but not for their beef. They have a great chicken teriyaki sandwich (get it on french bread), a really good cheddar burger, and great char dogs (one again, get it on french bread).

    My pal swears by their grilled salami sandwich, but I would not get it since it offends my sensibilities to pay $5 for a few pieces of salami when I can get a whole stick for the same price.
  • Post #3 - April 12th, 2006, 10:37 pm
    Post #3 - April 12th, 2006, 10:37 pm Post #3 - April 12th, 2006, 10:37 pm
    Joel

    When you went, was it busy? I know it was recently sold. Even looked at it before I bought my place. It sits on a very bad corner, imo. Plus, having Poochies, Herms, Hubs, Grecian Kitchen, Pita Inn, etc just a little east of there doesn't help.
  • Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 4:45 am
    Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 4:45 am Post #4 - April 13th, 2006, 4:45 am
    gp60004 wrote:Joel

    When you went, was it busy? I know it was recently sold. Even looked at it before I bought my place. It sits on a very bad corner, imo. Plus, having Poochies, Herms, Hubs, Grecian Kitchen, Pita Inn, etc just a little east of there doesn't help.


    Are you saying htat the old school Jewish couple sold it?
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #5 - April 13th, 2006, 7:16 am
    Post #5 - April 13th, 2006, 7:16 am Post #5 - April 13th, 2006, 7:16 am
    stevez wrote:
    Are you saying htat the old school Jewish couple sold it?


    Yes. I believe so. About 12-14 months ago i see it advertised on a restaurant for sale web site. Talked to the broker and he gave me the address. I didn't like the corner it was on plus the $795K for both business and real estate was too steep for me. A few months later, their sign said either "Same food, new owners" or "come in. meet the new owners"

    Can't remember which.
    Last edited by gp60004 on April 13th, 2006, 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #6 - April 13th, 2006, 7:53 am
    Post #6 - April 13th, 2006, 7:53 am Post #6 - April 13th, 2006, 7:53 am
    gp60004 wrote:When you went, was it busy? I know it was recently sold. Even looked at it before I bought my place. It sits on a very bad corner, imo. Plus, having Poochies, Herms, Hubs, Grecian Kitchen, Pita Inn, etc just a little east of there doesn't help.


    There was only one other customer in the place... but it was almost 2PM.
    There were three guys behind the counter, and I can't imagine if it was always that dead that they could support that staff.

    The corner isn't really that bad: It's a lot easier to get in and out of than, say, Kaufmann's, since you can't turn left onto Dempster leaving the big K (take the alley around the block to either Niles Center or Bronx... which puts you at HDI again).

    I used to work in that neighborhood, and thought Mages, the previous label on that place, had better beef, although HDI's fries are a notch better. But yes, I was much more likely to go to Pita Inn.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - April 13th, 2006, 10:51 am
    Post #7 - April 13th, 2006, 10:51 am Post #7 - April 13th, 2006, 10:51 am
    Jerry and Joanne Pincus opened the original Hot Dog Island in Evanston on the three corners of Central, Crawford, and Gross Point. They moved to Glenview(Golf & Washington)in 1978. They were located in the Talisman Village parking lot directly in front of The Works(which opened in 1976). With great exposure, ample parking, and easy access, they did a good business. In June of 2003, their lease was terminated. Jerry reopened on the corner of Dempster and Bronx in Skokie. Although the road traffic was heavy, HDI lacked street parking and had a small parking lot. They marketed many specials, but with their parking and access situation, and numerous established food choices east on Dempster(not including the Portillo's just north on Skokie Blvd), it wasn't as good as Golf & Washington. I wish the new owners well. Gus, you made a wise decision.

    CSD
    Mark A Reitman, PhD
    Professor of Hot Dogs
    Hot Dog University/Vienna Beef
  • Post #8 - April 13th, 2006, 12:47 pm
    Post #8 - April 13th, 2006, 12:47 pm Post #8 - April 13th, 2006, 12:47 pm
    ChicagoStyleDog is correct about Hot Dog Island which is often confused with it's successor at its old Evanston location -- The Little Island.

    Hot Dog Island is at 4925 Dempster in Skokie, a few doors west of Kaufmann's Bagel & Delicatessen.

    The Little Island is at 2600 Crawford Avenue, Evanston (the triple intersection of Crawford, Central and Gross Point).

    Thanks to this thread my son and I had lunch at The Little Island today. The location has high visibility but the parking lot is tiny. The lot was full when we arrived just past noon and we had to park on the street nearby. It was busy inside -- it took a few minutes until we could give our order and then a 15 minute wait until our food (all grilled) was ready.

    We hadn't been in more than a year as the last few times the hot dogs were ordinary -- not on a par with the Dempster Street trio of Herm's, Poochies and Hot Dog Island.

    However, the recommended char dog is quite good. as is the cheddar burger. The regular fries were fine; when we last tried the "hand cut" fries there was no discernable improvement. The teriyaki chicken sandwich was perfectly OK, but not exceptional. It seems as if the grilled foods are the best ones at this hot dog stand. We'll certainly return when opportunity arises.
    Where there’s smoke, there may be salmon.
  • Post #9 - June 18th, 2009, 4:10 pm
    Post #9 - June 18th, 2009, 4:10 pm Post #9 - June 18th, 2009, 4:10 pm
    Stopped in to Little Island today as we were on the north side picking up a buddy of Sparky's, and had just heard about it from Pioneer press (and I thought Mike Sula had led me there, but damned if I can find the reference) - what an extensive menu for such a tiny joint! At any rate, the kids had dogs and fries, I had a burger, and the 'spouse had a red hot. All were good (burger was cooked medium-well - my fault, I forgot to specify) but what I really enjoyed were the exceptionally greasy grilled onion fries - yes, just fries topped with grilled onions, but they were a very nice flavor combination. Fries not up to WASC standards, but still hand-cut and up there for a dog joint. Burgers are handmade, held in a little glass-door soda fridge in the back of the kitchen - if you ask for "everything" on it, you get the Chicago Dog treatment plus ketchup which was kind of nice. Park elsewhere and walk there - we had a really difficult time getting out.

    Next time I'm northerly and luncherly, I'm going back for a rare burger.

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