Mile 7: 74th-66th Street
This painting is a part of my Western Avenue Series, through which I'll be making 24 watercolor paintings, one to document each mile of Western Avenue, in Chicago. I started this project because while it is not considered to be among the most “beautiful” of Chicago’s streets, Western Avenue is a perfect place to document the humanness of Chicago, the positive and the negative. In the words of Stuart Dybek, "Western, with apologies to State Street, is a great street, Unlike State, it is a street that goes to the interior, the heart of the city, as it glides and glows through a United Nations of neighborhoods." Check back next Monday to see a post about the next mile of Western.
Fat Johnnies, a rather modest white window-service hot dog stand has been open since 1972. It is open all year, so you'll find customers waiting outside in line despite bone-chilling snow or blazing heat. The available seating is at picnic tables (set up during warmer months), and they serve hot dogs Chicago-style: steamed and topped with mustard, neon-green relish, chopped onions, cucumber, and tomato. For the more adventurous, they offer the double dog (two franks, one bun) or a “fat one.” They also serve up Mighty Dogs (hot-dog-and-tamale combo) and Mother-In-Laws (tamale topped with chili and served in a bun).
Fat Johnnie's seemed an appropriate representation of this mile because it is an icon of the neighborhood, in fact it has even attracted the attention of Anthony Bourdain. In this stretch heavily traffic commercial stretch fast food restaurants are prevalent and Fat Johnnie's seems right at home.
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Who do you think has the best Chicago-style hot dogs?