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The moment I set foot in Chicago, they told me I needed to try two things: a Chicago-style hot dog and a deep dish pizza. So I’ve decided to tackle the hot dog first, but I thought I’d do things a little differently this time. This is Adrift in the Distance’s first ever “dog-off”: a heated contest between my first experience with a Chicago Dog versus the all-familiar L.A. Downtown Dog. Here goes:

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THE CONTESTANTS:
The Chicago Seven: all-beef frank with mustard, raw onions, hot sport peppers, tomato slices, dill pickle, green pickle relish, and celery salt on a poppy seed bun.
Los Angeles Dog: bacon-wrapped hot dog with grilled onions and green peppers,  ketchup, mustard, mayo, jalapeños and pico de gallo on a toasted bun.

THE BUN:
Chicago’s poppy seed bun really gives the bun a different texture, breaking up the monotony that usually is an artificially-preserved piece of bread. The chewy bits of poppy seed were a very pleasant surprise. L.A., I know you tried to get in the game by toasting it, and it is a valiant effort, but that just compromises the structural integrity of the dog and its ability to hold everything together.

THE FRANK/DOG:
Bacon. Wrapped. Hot Dog. Need I say more? Even though I’m usually not a big fan of bacon, I gotta say I love the ingenuity LA displays by wrapping their meat with an even fattier and crunchier piece of meat. Some may call it cheating, but I call it risk-taking and give props. Chicago’s all-beef franks are nice and juicy, but just doesn’t have the same pizzaz.

THE ALL-IMPORTANT TOPPINGS:
Chicago prides itself on topping their dogs with fresh vegetables, known as “dragging it through the garden”, which is very commendable. The sport peppers are also have just the right amount of kick and have the bonus of being easy to eat, unlike LA’s fascination with the whole jalapeño pepper. However, points off for pickle relish AND a dill pickle. Pickle on pickle just makes for a very tart hot dog with nothing to balance it out except for mustard slathered on top. Also, no ketchup. Why no ketchup, I implore you? LA’s warm grilled veggies on a steaming frank just sounds right, although I do admit all those toppings mask the taste of the dog sometimes. And the 3-condiment combination of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise makes it considerably messier and greasier.

VERDICT:
Sorry Chicago, but Los Angeles wins this dog-off. I might be a bit biased, but given a choice, I would pick a Los Angeles street dog for $3 from the Mexican lady grilling on a tin push-cart outside a nightclub any day. It may be a little grittier and a little messier, but hey, that’s LA.

If anyone disagrees or would like to nominate their city’s hot dogs as best in the country, please comment below.

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