The questions I ask myself when considering the worthiness of GNR nominees are these:
How does the nominee stack up against other restaurants in its category?
Would I travel beyond my own neighborhood (and past similar restaurants) to eat at the nominee?
Are there distinctive aspects of the nominee?
Is there an item (or items) the nominee serves that I find myself craving?
When considering The Wiener and Still Champion, the answer to all 4 questions is "yes."
I recently took the family to lunch at WaSC so that they could experience it and I could reorganize my thoughts about it . . .
The Wiener and Still Champion is located at 802 Dempster in Evanston. As was posted above, it's 'locationally challenged' but still relatively easy to find.
The interior is small but cozy and clean.
#1 Combo Meal with a hand-dipped corn dog (aka 'Dipping Dog') add-on for only $1.00
This also comes with a medium fountain drink and is priced at $4.50. The natural casing dog had a wonderful snap to it and the bun was as soft as a cloud. The 'Dipping Dog' was just terrific, too. Most places offer a frozen version of a corn dog. At WaSC, they're made with fresh dogs, hand dipped and cooked to order. If you don't think that makes a difference, try one. This rendition is carefully thought-out, real food -- not just an accomodation for the kiddies.
The #6 Combo Meal; a cheeseburger and fries, also with the 'Dipping Dog' option
Unlike at so many other hotdog stands, the burgers at WaSC are cooked lovingly and not obliterated. The quality of the meat allows for this type of reasonable cooking. At most places, you can only taste the char on the overcooked burger patties. At WaSC, you can taste the moist meat, too. The subtle seasoning on the burger highlights it without obscuring it. The soft, sesame seed bun is just about as fresh as can be. And I do enjoy the Merkt's cheese option very much.
The #8 Combo Meal, featuring a Grilled Chicken Breast sandwich
This is another item of which most hotdog stands offer a lousy, perfunctory version as an accomodation. Here the chicken, which is taken seriously, is tasty and again, cooked properly so that it still contains moisture. It's not pre-marinated. It's fresh and it tastes like it. There's nothing to hide or apologize for with this sandwich.
The briquettes under the cooking grates add quite a bit of flavor to WaSC's grilled sandwiches and help distinguish it from so many also-rans in its category.
The french fries alone are worth the trip. They are among the best I've had. They're hand-cut in the restaurant and dunked twice. They're remarkably crispy and tasty -- and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of salt. The extra steps taken here make all the difference in the world. These are fries that you simply cannot stop eating. Long after the sandwich is gone, they are great all the way to the very bottom of the basket in which they are served. If I go too long without them, I begin to crave them.
In a town where Vienna Beef stands are ubiquitous, the exceptional ones are few and far between. WaSC is one of the best. Across the board, the food is extremely well-prepared with great care, to order. It's immaculately fresh and reasonably priced. I live in Deerfield and I cannot even begin to accurately count the number of hotdog stands I drive past on my way to The Wiener and Still Champion. Just off the top of my head, I can think of about a dozen of them and I'm guessing there are even more than that. With the possible exception of 1, none of them are even in WaSC's league. This is a place that rises above its category and sets the bar. Based on the questions I posed above, there's no doubt in my mind that The Wiener and Still Champion is deserving of GNR designation.
That's what I do. I drink and I know things.
I just wanna live until I gotta die. I know I ain't perfect but God knows I try --Todd Snider