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Restaurant Mon Oct 19 2009
Wiener and Still Champion, 802 Dempster St. in Evanston, is one of the rare hot dog stands that doesn't rest on its laurels. Hot Doug's aside, it's a rarity to find innovation in the realm of mom'n'pop fast food joints. But as some new items debuting on this spot's menu today prove that a little ingenuity takes you a long way.
Take the corn dog. Most places offer the same boring version pulled out of the freezer. At Wiener and Still Champion, they make their own "Dippin' Dogs," all-beef hot dogs hand-dipped in a slightly sweet, polenta-like cornmeal batter when you order one. The result might ruin you for inferior corn dogs forever. Now owner Gus Paschalis has taken his Dippin' Dogs to a new, gut-busting level. The top of the line used to be the Deluxe Dippin' Dog (or "DDD," named in honor of the restaurant's appearance on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"), two Dippin' Dogs covered in homemade chili and Merkt's cheddar cheese. Now you've got the Big Dipper, a 1/3 pound, 10-inch hot dog wrapped in enough batter to make it hard to imagine actually eating.
Weiner and Still Champion already sported country fried bacon, a lightly breaded strip of bacon deep-fried to a golden brown. Now you can get the same treatment with slices of gyro meat and served with a new Mediterranean cucumber sauce that's not as tangy as tzatziki but just as fine a complement to the beef and lamb of the gyro. The new "deep-fried chili" balls were an unexpected treat: dollops of chili wrapped in Dippin' Dog batter and fried, they look like hushpuppies until you bit into them.
And speaking of that country-fried bacon, there's a new variety that'll pop up "on special occasions," like football Sundays: candied bacon, tossed in a brown sugar-habanero glaze. Sweet, spicy and addictive.