Who can forget the scene from the Christmas classic “A Christmas Story” when Ralph is helping the old man change the tire outside. Ralph accidentally spills the lug nuts all over the street and drops and F-bomb in front of his dad. Later on in the scene Ralph was talking about how his dad was an artist. Some artists work in oils or clays, but his dad worked in profanity, and that night he weaved a tapestry of profanity that to this day hangs over Lake Michigan. I only mention this story, because just as “the old man” was an artist that worked in profanity, there exists right here in our fair city of Salt Lake a different kind of artist. His name is Johnnie and he works in hot dogs. Just as some artists work in paints and clay, Johnny created a masterpiece of a hot dog for me today and called it “The Tucson Dog” Here is to the Michelangelo of Hot Dogs, here is to Johnniebeefs Chicago Style Hot Dogs!
Johnniebeefs can be found in the Texaco station over on Union Park Boulevard before the Wal-Mart and across the corner from Wingers. I pulled in today with a hot dog in mind, and what I got exceeded all my expectations. Johnnie has his hot dog stand on the west side of the gas station, and it was filled with devoted customers today, many of them knew Johnnie by name and vice versa. If I may, let me break down the Tucson dog I had today. I want to start with the bun. These are not your store-bought buns that are stale and bland. These are also not the hot dogs where your first bite is all bun and toppings and no actual beef. Johnnie uses a warm, soft, poppy-seed bun that is just perfect. Johnnie also uses a cooked to perfection 100% beef hot dot to go with that bun. Stop right there and throw some mustard and ketchup on top and you have yourself a pretty decent hot dog both in taste and size, but this is where the true art comes in. My Tucson dog has spicy pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, tomato, cucumber, sour cream, and sport peppers on top. Two things really stood out to me about these dogs. First, the appearance, just look at the picture, these dogs are beautiful! Every topping looks fresh and tastes amazing. Second, the taste of this dog was awesome. As I worked my way through the dog, I could distinctly taste each flavor from the sour cream and guacamole to the hot dog and celery. There were so many flavors at one time, it was almost sensory over load. (Did I mention that Tucson dog has bacon too?)
Johnnie has hot dogs to cater to every taste. You can get a simple Utah dog with mustard, and celery salt, or you can get one of Johnnie’s specialty dogs like his pastrami dog, or New Yorkie, Chicago Fire, or Barbeque Johnnie. Today while I did not take advantage of the special, I noticed that it was called the “Double Dipper” or a foot long hot dog with two different types of cheese and chili and onion. I can’t wait to try that one on my next visit, but you never know what Johnnie’s special will be. A dear friend of mine told me he had a peanut butter and jelly dog once. When you have an artist like Johnnie, you have to let the artist work his craft and just feel grateful you can sample his wares.
Hot dogs are not the only specialty of Johnnie. Being from Chicago he of course has to offer Chicago’s famous hot Italian Beef sandwich. This sandwich has seasoned roast beef thinly sliced, served on a French roll with sweet peppers. This sandwich was soooooo yummy! You can get it three different ways, dry, medium or “wet”. I highly recommend you get it “wet” your first time. By not doing so, it is almost a man-card penalty. Johnnie will dip the sandwich in the hot au jus, which makes the sandwich so juicy and tasty while not making the French bread overly soggy and gross. It really is quite a creation and just part of Johnnie the artist’s repertoire. Need a yummy side dish? Johnnie has the luxury of being in a Texaco gas station so there are dozens of different soda options. You can get a combo that comes with a cold beverage and macaroni or potato salad, or you can get a “Frito Pie” which is basically a bunch of frito lays covered in cheese onions and Johnnie’s own chili.
You don’t have to go to Chicago to try one of Chicago’s best. I would recommend paying Johnny a visit at his stand. Indulge the senses and get a nice Chicago dog and cold Coke. You may think differently about hot dogs after you go there, and you are sure to not forget your first visit to Salt Lake’s best dog stand – Johnniebeef’s Chicago Style Hot Dogs!