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Dog day afternoon

D&B Taste of Chicago's hot dog stand is serving up an American classic

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Loud rap roars. It's car wars outside of Tony's Hand Car Wash Detail Shop. Spring fever is in the air and a cluster of folk hangs out displaying bling and other things. They wait for their status-mobiles to come out of the finished end of the Latino-run business, all shiny and new.

In front of the car wash, a subplot is at play as Sharonda scurries to prepare for the promised lunch rush at D&B Taste of Chicago, the hot dog stand she is staffing today, much to her chagrin.

She works hard for the money: "They all come at once," she tells me as I order one of the first dogs out of the chute for that day.

"Who's worse? The business crowd or ones waiting for their cars to be washed or the laborers?"

"They are all bad," she says, but with a good-natured smile. "And they all want everything at once."

"Hey, girl! Throw me one down. I need to get my dog on," screams a customer approaching, as if on cue.

Dawg! There's nothing more American than the hot dog, even if it did hail from Frankfurt, Germany. And like all things American, there is many a heated argument about which region of our country does them best. Many a true dog connoisseur will swear by the Chicago dog, which is usually dressed with requisite fixings of diced onions, nuclear green relish, tomatoes, small hot peppers, a pickle spear and a dash of celery salt. It doesn't stop there. The all-beef dogs must be served on a freshly steamed poppy-seed bun and come in natural casings, which render a crisp snap when bitten.

D&B's dogs fall short in two areas: They don't have the snap, and the dill spears that top them are limp and wimpy (words you don't want associated with wieners).

Other than that, the $3 dogs are a deal, satisfying and well-dressed and served in unencumbered Americana al fresco.

Diverse dogs: According to Sharonda, secondary favorites are the beef Polish sausage ($4) and the "jumbo" wings (six for $4.50). Try the sausage but skip the "Chernobyl" wings. Shrunken and dried and served devoid of celery or dressing, they were a dire disappointment during my visit.

For those who are willing to throw all caution to the wind, get the crinkle-cut chili-cheese fries for $3. A whole lotta heartburn on a paper plate. Monster burgers and cold deli turkey sandwiches are also on the menu. Occasionally, Blue Bell ice cream and milk shakes ($2.50) are also available.

At D&B Taste of Chicago, the scene's the thing. And the dogs may not have the "snap," but they do have bark. In the words of one famous man from wienerland I never thought I'd quote: "I'll be back."

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