Mitch here!

As the guy in charge of this hectic family’s food supply, I rely heavily on easy meal solutions. When Kelly and Emma’s teary eyes drift to me with those “feed me now or I’ll ruin your whole day” kind of looks, I know the pressure is on to get a meal together before a (double) blood sugar meltdown is upon me. While we don’t always eat at the table, I somehow always manage to scrounge something up. You could say I’m capable of preventing catastrophe. Two points for Dad! But I can’t be the only family that eats in the car, at the park or in the bathroom… right? (Listen: Emma’s obsessed with sitting on benches right now, and because there’s a little bench in our guest bathroom, we spend a LOT of time in there.)

Our generation’s loose definition of mealtime is why I’m so excited to team up with Dietz & Watson for today’s blog post. They’re unveiling #ChooseTheTable: a celebration of the fact that we don’t need a traditional gather-around-the-table kind of situation to enjoy a meal together. While the Larkins do make a concerted effort to sit down together at the kitchen table once per day, our other meals often take place in the car, huddled around the stroller, or at the playground. Dietz & Watson plays a major part in these meals, as the company is known for its awesome meats, cheeses and condiments–perfect for families on the go.

By the way, Dietz & Watson is currently hosting a sweepstakes, and they’re giving away 10 #ChooseTheTable meals across the country. Each meal will be prepared using Dietz & Watson products by a local celebrity chef. I actually had the privilege of attending a #ChooseTheTable meal in downtown Chicago with Chef Massimo Gaffo, and believe me when I tell you that it was a life-changing experience. Click here to enter the contest before 10/31!

But let’s get back on track. I love the idea that each city in the United States has a go-to “city-famous food” for these desperate meal time situations I so often face. A food so special it seems codified in the city charter.

“Hence forth, our fair city shall uphold this dish as our favorite food! Lo! Travelers upon our broad land shall nibble upon this specific food whence thine tummy rumble!”

I’m talkin’ about cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. Coney dogs in Detroit. Cheese curds in Wisconsin. Chili in Cincinnati. Crab cakes in Baltimore. Po’boys and beignets in New Orleans. Jersey Shore pork rolls. Also of course the lesser known but equally awesome ham horseshoes in Springfield, Illinois. And don’t even get me started on New York’s famous get-you-fed foods: Slices, bagels, heroes, rainbow cookies, mile-high pastrami sandwiches, and Halaal truck chicken and rice. Sigh…

Kelly and I were spoiled in New York, as no matter where we were in the city, we could share a meal together in an instant. Seriously, next time you’re in New York, just hold a dollar bill out in the palm of your hand and I swear someone will replace it with a slice of pizza. It’s the best!

While it might not be as easy to grab a meal out of nowhere here in Chicago, we do have some of the best city-famous foods around. Deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches hold a special place in my heart (specifically right next to the clogs they’re causing in my arteries), but today, I’m here to celebrate my all-time favorite quick-and-easy, eat-it-anywhere food: the Chicago-style hot dog!

The Chicago-style hot dog (with a twist)

Kelly and I have a strong relationship, but when we moved to Chicago, a fissure emerged in the sanctity of our union. Kelly puts–gasp–ketchup on her hot dogs! I pains me to even type it. A proper Chicago hot dog vendor doesn’t even offer ketchup. I looked into it, and apparently putting ketchup on hot dogs is justification for annulment in this region. I’m not saying I’m going to act on this information; I’m just saying that this offense is THAT serious.

For the uninitiated, a Chicago-style hot dog is technically a hot dog, though the “dog” is only one of nine ingredients. And while it may seem that this thing is a haphazard pile of toppings that don’t complement each other, any Chicagoan will tell you that each plays its part in providing the right texture or crunchy tang to each salty, sweet and savory bite. Chicago dogs are all beef (Dietz and Watson’s are our personal faves); the buns must be steamed and covered in poppyseed, which will inevitably get stuck in your teeth, thus announcing to the world that you ate a dog earlier; and are decorated in mustard, pickle relish, onion, tomato, a pickle spear and a dash of celery salt.

And here’s where that twist comes in. For these dogs, I’m opting for hot giardiniera instead of the typical sport peppers. Somehow it seemed appropriate given the city-famous food angle of this post to include hot Chicago giardiniera.

These dogs were delicious. I ate three of them in a row and don’t feel guilty about it at all. Emma had hers chopped up into little pieces served on a dachshund plate, which seemed appropriate, so I followed suit and went with a dachshund plate as well. Find the recipe details below!

And in the comments below, we’d love to hear what your town, city or state’s “city-famous food” is!



  1. Boil hot dogs in large pot of water for 6-8 minutes.
  2. Remove hotdogs and use a steam tray to briefly steam the buns over the boiling hotdog water. (About 20 seconds.)
  3. Place the hotdog in the bun and pile the toppings on in the order described in the recipe above.

Mitch out!

This post was sponsored by Dietz & Watson, but all opinions are our own. As always, thank you so much for supporting the partnerships that keep Kelly in the City up and running!