Katharine Shilcutt's article on Sonic's version of a Chicago dog inspired many readers to weigh in on the American classic. Here's the ever-popular Fatty FatBastard, on what James Coney Island was serving up: "I keep telling you to go to James Coney Island for their Chicago dog. It is EXACTLY the same as one you'll get at any vendor in Chicago."
Perfect. I was in Chicago a few months back and just so happened to consume a Chicago dog from a typical local spot. I even took a picture. With the memory still fresh and my stomach empty, I headed to my nearest James Coney Island to see if Fatty was correct.
He was not. In fairness, I hate James Coney Island, and their take on a Chicago dog did nothing to change my opinion of the place. It certainly looked the part. But here's the difference. I devoured the real-deal Chicago Chicago dog. I didn't make it through half my James Coney Island one, probably because I was still thinking about that recent authentic experience.
JC's bread was a tad crunchy on the edges, the pickle didn't extend the length of the bun (sounds like a personal problem), the pieces of tomatoes were small, and the wiener just tasted strange (that's what she said). All the veggies were fresh and tasty. I guess it wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't eat it again. Hey, the dog was the best part of my combo meal. Those fries were tasteless, high-caloric sticks of nothingness. Wait, to be fair, I did enjoy my Diet Coke.
I thought Fatty was onto something when I first opened my box of food, but the look just didn't match the taste.
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