Chicago-style hotdogs find a home in S. Florida

A casual strip-center eatery  on US-1 focuses on Chicago-style hot dogs, game sausages. How about some hoisin sauce on your dog?

To a New Yorker raised on Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, Hebrew National franks from a foil-covered grill at the local kosher deli or dirty water dogs from the corner Sabrett cart, chowing down at Hotdog-Opolis in Boca Raton is a different experience.

This hole-in-the-wall, 25-seat, bare bones, strip center eatery, on Federal Highway, just a few blocks north of Yamato Road, is a torchbearer the legendary Chicago-style hot dog.

What’s a Chicago-style dog? It’s a somewhat garish production: a steamed all-beef dog topped served in a steamed poppy seed bun with bright yellow mustard, neon-green pickle relish, fresh chopped white onions, bright red tomato wedges, peppers, a kosher-style pickle spear, a couple of spicy sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.

Wait. There’s more to Hotdog-Opolis than Chicago-style dogs. Hotdogs also are available with a seemingly countless array of inventive toppings, including pineapple and hoisin sauce. There’s a chalkboard opposite the serving counter that lists the many variations available. Besides toppings—and you CAN have a New York style dog with mustard and kraut or onions in red sauce, if that’s what strikes your fancy, but there are also Polish sausages and game sausages—bison, venison, duck, pheasant, wild board, rabbit, to name a few. I can’t wait to try the venison-merlot-blueberry sausage.

There’s a lot going on here, if you think about it. But let’s not think too long. Let’s eat. At a recent lunch, sparked by a $20 Groupon, I enjoyed a beefy jumbo dog, about an inch in diameter, tucked deep into a poppy seed bun and served Chicago style. It’s a quite tasty, albeit messy lunch. You’ll need two hands to lift this sandwich and lots of napkins, There are a mélange of flavors and textures at play, but don’t dawdle. That beautiful sandwich is apt to quickly fall apart, as mine did from the ingredient overload. A side of hand-cut, well-browned French fries and a tangy, pure sauerkraut-based slaw helped to fill me up. And to wash it all down, a Vernor’s Ginger Ale, America’s oldest surviving ginger ale and a product originally from Detroit. Your tab should be around $10 or so, depending on your choice of sausage, toppings and beverage.

For those who don’t want a hot dog, Hotdog-Opolis offers another Chicago specialty—Italian beef, as well as burgers, sandwiches and salads. Gabilia knishes, albeit deep-fried to a crispy shell, are a New York specialty To drink, there’s the usual array of canned Coke products, plus Vernor’s, Nehi and Boylan sodas, as well as Bud and a couple of craft beers.

While I won’t be giving my eating hot dogs New York-style, I’m now more than willing to add the Windy City offering to my choices. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to returning to try some of the more exotic offerings. And there’s no need to get on a plane to Chicago.

Hotdog Opolis

6020 N. Federal Hwy, Boca Raton

(561) 988-5959

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