As I drove down River Road I noticed we were getting in to a sketchy neighborhood. The Des Plaines River is rushing next to the road. I see an old worn down sign saying, “Gene and Judes Hot Dogs.” The parking lot is small and cramped with an assortment of different cars: new cars, old cars, souped up cars, and even broken down cars. The small parking spaces make it extremely difficult to squeeze in between other poorly parked vehicles. As I step out of the car I see a faded white-bricked building as if the building had been sitting there since the 19th century. I smell the sweet sense of a perfect hot dog being made. I hear the diverse crowd talking and laughing but at Gene and Judes no one cares about the crowd of people, we are all there for the same reason: to feast. I hurriedly enter through the small door only to find myself encompassed by people. As a I scramble to the back of the line my heart drops when I realize how long the line is. All I seem to care about at this point is the double dog with fries. Standing in line shoulder to shoulder I see the workers rushing from station to station. It’s like magic watching fresh potatoes being turned into perfectly sliced French fries in a matter of minutes. In a matter of seconds a hot dog gets made with every topping known to man. My mouth salivates as I watch other people happily eat their hot dogs and tamales as I stand in line longing for my hot dog. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves in the middle of this old unattractive restaurant. After what seems to be hours I stand at the front of the line and order my two double dogs with everything on it except tomatoes and a medium coke. Finally my food is ready and I rush out to the alley behind Gene and Judes to begin my feast. Sitting on a rocky curb in a trash filled alley I can’t be happier. Never have I tasted the delight of sinking my teeth into a perfectly seasoned and cooked hot dog with a few perfectly salted fries chilling on top of the hot dog. It’s a beautiful concoction just so that no topping dominates and everything seems to blend together to make the perfect hot dog. Once the first bite is taken, there is no question why we choose to drive 30 minutes to this run down area every weekend. We all leave with a smile on our faces pndering the next time we can return to this perfect joint.
The Perfect Hot Dog
January 12, 2012