You can keep your filet mignon and your foie gras and your pheasant under glass -- when Gut Check feels blue, what we crave is a hot dog.
Suffice to say, Gut Check had no intention of ordering deep-fried Twinkies or muffins.
Audi-K's This Central West End shop, while smaller than Pam's, immediately struck us as the more stylish of the two. From the lovingly hand-chalked menu over the register to the walls with their bright washes of orange and blue, this is a place where you could take a date or a visiting niece and nephew. Indeed, strollers were in abundance on the evening we visited, as were attractive coeds.
The tables outside, too, felt a touch more upscale. In front of Audi-K's, you've got a great view of the nightly Euclid Avenue street parade, with plenty of friendly dogs of the living-and-breathing variety eager to come over and say hi. If they were offended by our dinner choice, they certainly didn't let on.
The food, too, is a bit more frou-frou than Pam's. We were blown away by the bun on our dog -- amazingly soft and ample, it bore a distinctly fresh-from-the-oven taste.
But that bun proved to be our dog's undoing. No poppyseeds, for one thing. And while it tasted good, it was a case of too much of a good thing. Worse, it failed to stand up to the hot dog it cradled. Quel dommage! Half of our dill pickle ended up on our tray! And unlike Pam's dog, the lingering taste from this dog wasn't charred meat or sharp peppers; it was bun. Add in the fact that the friendly young woman who dished up our dog omitted the celery salt, and we found ourselves recalling Pam's dog with some nostalgia.
For the record, Audi-K's specializes in New Orleans-style shaved ice, and it also serves up those divine Billy Goat chips (including a decadent nacho plate -- yum). And Audi-K's signature dog, featuring a fascinating-sounding mélange of cream cheese, grilled onions and cucumbers, irresistibly beckons us back for more.
Audi-K's scores major points for atmosphere and them there Billy Goat nachos. But when it comes to the classic Chicago dog, we gotta side with Pam's.
235 North Euclid Avenue; 314-361-0270
Pam's Chicago Style Dogs
6016 Delmar Boulevard; 314-721-7267
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