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The Dog Show Tue Apr 02 2013

The Dog Show: Chris & Rob's in Minnesota

Thumbnail image for TheDogShow_01.jpgThere has been much debate about where to go for the best hot dog in Chicago, but where would one find a decent hot dog dragged through the garden elsewhere?

If you happen to be in Minnesota, then the answer is Chris & Rob's: Chicago's Taste Authority. The Chicago-born-and-raised Chris and Rob Dubnecay opened their Chicago-style grill in Minneapolis and have since opened two more restaurants in the Twin Cities area.

While you could order a Chicago-style hotdog from a national chain like Sonic, what sets Chris & Rob's apart from other Chicago dogs abroad is authenticity, according to Dubnecay. Sonic's dog is topped with generic relish, according to a photo on its website, while Chris and Rob's has Vienna Beef's bright green relish, and everything else, shipped from Chicago.

Rob Dubnecay"We literally have trucks every month that come up from Chicago that bring the buns, the peppers, the bread, the dogs, the relish," said Dubnecay. "Everything's authentic all the way from Chicago so that we can truly be a Chicago-style eatery."

They even had to get Gonnella, a Chicagoland bread company, to develop a bread that could be shipped all the way to Minnesota without having to freeze it, according to Dubnecay.

"The frozen stuff they had didn't perform the same, and I wasn't going to use it, so it was great to have a partner that wanted to work with us," said Dubnecay.

The walls of the Minneapolis location are adorned with keepsakes and memorabilia, including a 67th Street bus stop sign, two seats from Soldiers Field, and a signed picture of Ditka. There's even a Chicago map on the wall, where visitors from the Windy City can mark their home with a pin. The Chicago-themed adornments may seem a little forced, but the hotdogs the Dubnecays serve prove that this place is the real deal.

Chris and Rob's hotdog

The Chicago-style dog at Chris & Rob's does not disappoint. The Vienna Beef dog has that distinctive snap, and the bun tastes as fresh as it would in Chicago. Everything is how it should be, and if the Dubnecay's served their dogs back home, they'd be among the better dogs in the city.

The menu has other offerings that would be in a true Chicago joint, like Polish sausage, Italian beef and Supreme-brand tamales. However, one Minnesota favorite has made its way onto the menu: cheese. The menu features cheese curds and cheesy Italian beef sandwiches.

Thumbnail image for Chris and Rob's map"The other thing they like is cheddar cheese, which I know some places in Chicago have," said Dubnecay. "But where I grew up, you didn't get cheddar cheese on Italian beef."

Introducing some locals to Chicago food has been part of Dubnecay's job. A few Yelp reviewers complained that the Italian beef sandwich was too soggy.

"You had to explain, 'It's supposed to be dipped in gravy,' and then right away they think of gravy on mashed potatoes," said Dubnecay. "You have to kind of educate them and teach them how to do that and get to that part."

It appears as if Minnesotans are taking a liking to Chicago food. Chris & Rob's sells 1,200 hot dogs a week, according to the restaurant's website, and they were named the Twin Cities' best hotdog by City Pages in 2005

Chris and Rob Dubnecay have found a way to bring a little slice of home with them to the Twin Cities, and they've done so by refusing to compromise on their food's authenticity.

 

Bruce Kraig / April 9, 2013 12:22 PM

This looks terrific: an example of how regional hot dogs can be and how styles can spread. In this case, it's the power of the Chicago brand. For more see: Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America (2012, Alta Mira/Rowman Littlefield)

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