A good hot dog seems easy enough right? They’re pretty plain and standard. I’d imagine hot dog eateries would overflow streets a lot more than I see around town. Well.. I had never given that much thought until after I ate at Hot Dog Heaven. Nestled on the side of Colonial Drive in Orlando, this spot has been serving Central Florida up with Chicago Dogs since 1987. The hot dog biz seems great still today. With an ongoing line at 2 o’clock on a Tuesday in the Florida summer sun, I was surprised honestly. Surprised because I guess I am a newbie to the hot dog game and pumped because I knew my lunch was gonna turn out awesome.
I’ve had plenty of hot dogs in my day yet never a Chicago Dog. Living in central and south Florida I’ve just never had the pleasure. Down here hot dogs are only paired to concession stands, BBQ’s and the occasional mall food court. The Chicago area ridiculously boasts more Chicago Dog restaurants than McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King’s combined. That’s the very reason hot dogs are an unfulfilled territory here. Whats does Florida know about the hot dogs and their origins. Chicago was the first city introduced to Vienna Beef frankfurter’s. Around that same time a Bavarian sausage seller in Chicago was the first to throw the sausage on a roll to avoid customers burning their fingers while eating. These seeds were planted as far back as 1893. Chicago has come a long way since then though. Now they own their own hot dog classic, the Chicago Dog. Featuring an all-beef Vienna dog on a steamed poppy seed bun topped with mustard, relish, dill pickle spear, white onion and hot peppers, Hot Dog Heaven keeps the Chi-town roots to a T while adding some creativity to make for too many delicious-sounding dogs than I could have in one sitting.
The place from the outside seems pretty cool already and the inside just made it more real, more authentic. Open the doors and you know where you’re at, what you’re in for, CHI-CAG-O! Chicago sports, murals, photos of the city, of the owners’ neighborhood, everything Chicago sports and city nostalgia envelops is hanging on the walls. Going up to order the menu Steven and I ordered the basket meal deal. Any dog in a basket deal comes with a hill of french fries and the choice of one side; baked beans, cole slaw or macaroni salad to fill you up. I set my sights towards the:
“Jalapeno and Cheddar Dog” – (Deep fried sausage infused with chopped jalapeno and cheddar cheese topped Chicago-Style)
The “BBQ Dog” – (Chicago-Style)
Everything was so delicious I was upset with myself for not having the gut to kill off the whole basket and the root beer float I got. I wasn’t the one to go out and grab some hot dogs before but Hot Dog Heaven can count on me doing so now. When you at here it’s simple. Nothing flashy, no trendy decor to mask the quality of the food, just hometown Chicago flavor in an Orlando neighborhood. It could feel like a little getaway for the people that keep coming here and even more so for the ones who haven’t tried Hot Dog Heaven. There’s always a different dog for a different day or just that classic you can’t do without. This Orlando staple has been serving Orlando for over 20 years and will probably go for another 20. Grab a friend, eat outside or inside, it seems like just a hot dog but it’s an experience, do it.