What’s cookin’ in and around Chicago? Here’s a closer look at one of the area’s delicious dishes you don’t want to miss.
Bobby Morelli and his 9-year-old daughter Brooklyn have long been on a quest to find the best hot dog in Chicago. They’ve visited all the classic spots in the city.
It’s a “cool” bond the father-daughter duo have, according to Brooklyn.
“I like the hot dogs that we search for,” the incoming fourth grader said. “But sometimes it’s not as good as the ones that my dad has.”
Morelli, with the help of Brooklyn and his wife Shy, and youngest daughter, opened The Hot Dog Box in August 2020 as a side project after the pandemic cut in half the client pool for his web design and marketing company.
The Bronzeville bourbon fillet mignon steak dog served at The Hot Dog Box.Brian Rich/Sun-Times
“I was looking for something that I could do myself that was fun, not a lot of stress, and we came across this particular box,” Morelli said as he gestured to his fire-engine red stand in Boxville, the city’s first shipping container marketplace located near the 51st Street Green Line station.
Morelli started serving classic Vienna Beef Chicago hot dogs last fall, but he always knew he wanted to create a menu that made him stand out from the rest. So, he closed up shop for a few months last winter and started to brainstorm on creating a signature dog.
“I just started to research different hot dog toppings, different things that we can do to just add the extra oomph. … So I said, let’s come up with a filet mignon steak hot dog,” Morelli said. “Nobody’s necessarily done that before that I know of here in the city of Chicago, and that would be something that I feel most people would be intrigued by.”
Morelli launched several variations of the filet mignon steak dogs in March, and they were a huge hit, especially the Bronzeville Bourbon Filet Mignon Steak Dog.
That dog, in particular, is special for Morelli because it features his wife’s signature bourbon-infused barbecue sauce.
“That’s a family secret,” Morelli said of the sauce. “We definitely have our unique spices and of course, the bourbon. [It’s a] trade secret though; I can’t give too much details about it — my wife will kill me.”
What Morelli can say is that the sweet-and-spicy sauce pairs well with the juicy filet mignon steak dog. They add texture to the Bronzeville Bourbon dog by dressing it up with a dry cabbage and carrot medley. They also top it with peppers and bacon, because, as Morelli says, “everybody loves bacon.”
Another unique feature of The Hot Dog Box is that it caters to various diets. All the steak dogs can be subbed for vegan, turkey or salmon dogs, Morelli said.
The Hot Dog Box, 332 E. 51st St. The Bronzeville Bourbon Filet Mignon Steak Dog is $13.75. Visit https://www.thehotdogbox.com/.
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