Chicago Red Hot: Why Can’t New Yorkers Get It Right? Custom American Wine Bar Almost Does


Custom’s version comes close to the original, tastewise.

One of the triumphs of the hot-dog world is the Chicago-style frankfurter. But why can’t anyone accurately reproduce it in New York? Certainly, we’ve had lots of attempts. The latest encountered by Fork in the Road is the “Mid West Custom-Made Dog” at the Custom American Wine Bar in Williamsburg.

This is what a Chicago frank should look like.

The gimmick of the place is that it only serves wines made in the continental United States, principally from New York, California, and Washington. The food menu centers on sliders, franks, and salads.

Four franks are offered, including one that does a decent job of reproducing the Chicago-style red hot ($4). The bun is poppy-seed encrusted, check. The toppings include sport peppers, sweet green relish, mustard, tomatoes, onions, celery salt, and dill pickle, check. The wiener even imitates one version of the Vienna Red Hot, the designated hot dog of Chicago — an all-beef frank with a coarser texture than our own, and a redder color to the skin, which is usually artificial.

Only Custom’s toppings have been chopped, which makes the thing easier to eat, but less authentic, since one of the memorable aspects of the Chicago dog is the way you have to maneuver it around your mouth in order to pack each bite with maximum flavor and not make the ingredients fall on the ground.

Still, the version at Custom American Wine Bar comes closest to the actual flavor of the Chicago frank, and the short but well-selected wine list is well worth exploring.

Custom American Wine Bar
644 Driggs Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn