As soon as Craig Bagdon mentions the Seattle-style hot dog — an all-beef dog with cream cheese and grilled onions — a customer eating one a few seats over gives two thumbs up. But on the menu at Chicago Beef Company, the Seattle dog is just about the only Northwestern item: As you might guess from the name, it's all about Chicago food.
"There's a whole culture that surrounds Chicago-style foods," says Bagdon, Chicago Beef Company's owner and a Spokanite who spent five years living in the Windy City.
Some might think of its deep-dish pizza as Chicago's signature food, but Chicagoans also are passionate about encased meats, says Bagdon. As a popular manufacturer of Chicago-style hot dogs and Polish sausages, Vienna Beef is a big part of that. Everyone who has lived in Chicago knows the Vienna Beef logo. "We had a lady come to a dead stop out in the middle of the street when she saw the logo," says Bagdon.
In December, Chicago Beef Company became only the second location — alongside Joey T's Taste of Chicago in Rathdrum, Idaho — to sell Vienna Beef products in the Inland Northwest when it opened in a shared space with Mr. Wok at the North Division Y.
The core of the menu revolves around hot dogs, with options such as a beef chili dog ($3.95) or a classic dog with mustard, onions and relish ($2.95). But if you want the full Midwest experience, you'll have to go with the Chicago dog ($3.75).
"Essentially, the Chicago-style hot dog is an all-beef hot dog drug through a salad bar," Bagdon says.
On the Chicago dog you get yellow mustard, chopped white onions, relish (not your conventional relish; it's neon green), a pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato wedges and celery salt, which all becomes a struggle to contain in the poppy seed bun as you bite your way through.
A bratwurst, several Polish sausages ($4.25-$7.25) and an Italian beef sandwich ($7.50) also appear on the menu. Vienna Beef condiments are sold, and come St. Patrick's Day, you'll be able to get retail corned beef to cook at home. ♦
Chicago Beef Company • 9222 N. Newport Hwy. • Open Mon-Thu, 11 am-8 pm; Fri-Sat, 11 am-8:30 pm; Sun, 11 am-7 pm • 279-2500 • chicagobeefco.com