Few other Oak Park restaurants have received so much love as Tasty Dog.
I remember when the threat of moving this beloved hot dog stand from the south to the north side of Lake Street brought out battalions of concerned families with signs and righteous fervor in what seemed at the time oddly placed social consciousness. Turns out, what was put up in place of the old Tasty Dog was a retail space that now has “For Lease” signs in the windows.
With some help from the Village, Tasty Dog moved across the street and seems to be doing well enough.
I’ve always had mixed emotions about the namesake snack at Tasty Dog.
In some ways, Tasty Dog’s version of the Chicago Hot Dog is a most virtuous rendition of this classic. With loads of veggies on top, this menu selection seems almost like a healthy choice.
In other ways, the Tasty Dog epitomizes one very problematic aspect of this regional sandwich: it’s too damn big to fit in one’s mouth. There is so much vegetation on top that you can’t possibly get a little taste of all of it in one bite, so you end up eating what is essentially a small salad before you clear off the trimmings to get to the dog itself.
The Vienna dog was pleasantly garlicky, though with no discernible “snap,” one of the few criteria dog enthusiasts apply to their wieners of choice (not counting the foolishly self-righteous disdain of ketchup).
In Oak Park, our hot dog choices are relatively limited, but even if we had a few more dog stands, it’s likely Tasty Dog would remain the top choice because it’s near the high school, it has a history, and it seems a part of many Oak Park lives.
It hardly has to be good. Fortunately, it ain’t bad.