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The Fat Kid Road Trip part 3: The Revenge

After our stop at Chicago's most unusual hot dog venue, we departed to the magical land of Portland, Wisconsin...I mean Milwaukee, Oregon...I mean...

Maybe it was just the district we were in. Maybe it was because Summerfest was happening in roughly the same area. Maybe we were just being judgmental. There was no denying, however, that there were a lot of people who's legs were apparently uncomfortably hot while their heads were apparently uncomfortably cold.
If you or someone you know is afflicted with being a hipster, seek professional help
Hipster's aside, Milwaukee is a pleasant place during the summer (which I understand lasts roughly two days). It has more of a small-town vibe than a big city feel, and getting around is nowhere near as harrowing an experience as somewhere like Chicago.

We hadn't come to wonder at the population of hipsters or the scenery, however. We came for the Comet Cafe.


Name: Comet Cafe
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Suggested by: Joemiroquoi

Despite the extensive vegan menu and soda menu consisting of things “you've probably never heard of”, Comet Cafe and I can find common ground in one way: we love bacon. Few non-vegan dishes on the menu are without this champion of meat, and that alone is something I can appreciate. With that in mind, Joel and I ordered different variations of the bacon-wrapped meatloaf.
More like the MEAT TOWER
Before a meatloaf at Comet Cafe is cooked, the entire pan is covered with bacon. Once the beef is prepared and added, the bacon is wrapped around the entire block, giving every slice an outer shell of pure goodness.

Joey had come for one thing though, and strangely enough it was one of the few non-bacon dishes. He had come for the “Thanksgiving in a Ball”.
A dish so American I just saluted thinking about it
Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes all rolled up into balls larger than baseballs and deep fried to perfection. The picture does not do justice to the magnitude of this dish. Joey looked as one who had achieved Nirvana, but there was a problem: there was too much food.

He plowed through a ball and a half out of three, and although he said the food was just as good as the first bite, there was only so much his system could take. There was no way, however, that we were going to have driven that far just for him to give up halfway through. Joey needed inspiration, and we had just the thing.

The previous night we had been playing the fighting game Dead or Alive 4. There were four catagories of characters in that game for Joey: Ones he likes, ones that were okay, ones that were bad, and Akira.
Try not to get my gi mom just bleached it
For those who haven't played the game, Dead or Alive relies heavily on a counter system, meaning you have to be good at predicting the kind of move your opponent is attempting. Akira's off-tempo style makes this very, very difficult. Oh the rage, oh the ranting, oh the insults towards to a set of animations. Joey's loathing of Akira and everything he does in that game was as passionate as it was hilarious, and it just might have saved the day. Turning to Joel, I said the magic words.

“You know, I bet Akira could finish that.”
(artist's rendition of the reaction)
That lit a fire in Joey's eyes. It wasn't pretty, he wasn't in good shape after, but he conquered the Thanksgiving in a Balls. I'm not saying we had to get a wheelbarrow to get him out of the establishment, but I'm not going to formally go on record to say we didn't.

It was early in the trip for a meal to be so difficult to put down, and it would only get harder from there. Would the trip south bring greater challengers? Would we be able to finish everything on our plates? The quest continues in Martinsville.


He is the Knight

Just a classic image of a classic character. Doesn't get much better than that.


The Fat Kid Road Trip part 2: Electric Boogaloo

The first full day of our journey for a larger waistline took us northwards, and as the northernmost resident of Illinois, I got to be behind the wheel. I can't speak for how many readers regularly travel the city of Chicago, but for those who haven't gotten the chance, let me be the first to congratulate you.

It's not fun.

If you adhere to the tenants of defensive driving and general “not-feeling-like-you're-an-inch-from-death” then the Windy City is not the place for you to commute. Want to change lanes? Well, you're more or less forced to cut someone off to do so. Don't worry though, because odds are you'd have been cut off with brake-slammingly little warning about three times by that point. And make no mistake, you will certainly have to contend with this. Unless you've memorized the highway layout, figuring out what lane to be in at what time is going to be like a sodoku puzzle locked in a Rubik’s Cube given to a color-blind man.

But I digress. We made it to our destination with surprisingly little hassle and surprisingly large chunks of our car intact, just in time to enjoy some Hot Doug's.


Name: Hot Doug's Meat Emporium
Location: Chicago, IL
Suggested by: Geekasaurus Mike

I like hot dogs, and I'm sure as a red-blooded American, so do you (all of what google tells me is a surprisingly large Russian audience can ignore that statement). In my humble opinion, there are few better places to enjoy encased meats than Hot Doug's.

Located at 3324 N. California Ave in Chicago, the establishment is well known for its high-quality product, it's unique atmosphere and staff (more on that in a moment) and it's creative dish naming. Every one of the regular menu items is named after a celebrity, and those names change on a regular basis. The Bo Derek, an Andouille Sausage, for example, has been formerly called the Brigette Bardot, the Salma Hayek, the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret.
None of which are pictured here
Hot Doug's major claim to fame, however, is the Game of the Week, or a hot dog made with a different unusual animal meat every week. These have included yak, rattlesnake, wild boar and kangaroo in the past. Every Friday and Saturday, the restaurant also offers “duck fat” cooked fries.

If you're looking to eat at a decent hour, you'd better get there early. We had a half-hour wait outside just to get inside the building, let alone to the cash register. Doug himself was working the till when we arrived, and that's when their unusual take on customer service began. Upon learning that we were eating in, Joey was implicitly told to order a small drink, but just take a large cup so he didn't have to keep refilling it. I can't name many places that would argue with someone trying to pay more, but there you are.

The second unusual thing was, as we were sitting outside due to space, a voice rang out from behind me.

“Hey! Joey!”
From the tone, I expected a miracle coincidence had occurred where someone Joey knew had run into us. I was wrong. The voice belonged to our server. The third unusual thing was that it was a Chicago hot dog store that had ketchup bottles.

What we hadn't realized upon leaving, sadly, was that the establishment was cash-only. We were somewhat limited in our choices therefore, but although we had simple Chicago-dogs, corndogs (the Shirley Hardman) and a Bo Derek between us, Hot Doug's certainly managed to live up to its reputation.

If you want to eat at Hot Doug's, you'd best hurry. Sadly, Doug will be retiring, and closing his shop on October fourth. Until then, I highly recommend giving it at least one shot before it's gone forever.