WICKER PARK — Late-night hot dog lovers, brace yourselves for Underdogg's return, minus the second "g," and with the addition of Mexican-style hot dogs wrapped in bacon and eventually an ice cream parlor.
"A change, a new look, a new menu and new spelling," are all in store for the resurrection of a 5 a.m. hot dog joint in the basement of Flash Taco, owner Ulysses Salamanca said Tuesday.
Salamanca, owner of Flash Taco as well as Underdog, announced plans to bring Underdog back to a subterranean space beneath Flash Taco at 1570½ N. Damen Ave. at the Milwaukee, Damen and North avenues intersection.
In addition to dropping the second "g," the restaurant, which was open for about nine years before closing in 2009, has added a tagline of, "What Up Dog!" that was recently installed in neon lights adjacent to Flash Taco's sign.
Renovations have included pulling out a wall to unveil an original mural depicting a hot dog-eating-underdog character as well as installing Spanish tiles that are used in New York City subway stations.
Hoping to reopen as Underdog in late November, the restaurant will be open until 5 a.m. daily and offer four varieties of classic Vienna Beef Chicago style hot dogs, including boiled and grilled hot dogs with mustard, relish, onions and sweet peppers, chili and chili cheese dogs, and Mexican-style hot dogs.
An existing hot dog cart that sits in front of Flash Taco on weekend nights served as the inspiration for "Panchito," a hot dog topped with taco meat, onions, cilantro and cheese.
"A customer of the cart asked if we could top the dog with taco meat, and that's how we came up with the Panchito," Salamanca said.
Another hot dog, called a Chilango, will be wrapped in bacon and topped with mayonnaise and was inspired by a recent trip Salamanca took to Mexico City.
Prices will be $3 for all hot dogs, and will include French fries, though Salamanca is working on fry recipes as well as pricing on other menu items such as hamburgers and gyros.
In the springtime, an ice cream parlor will be added to Underdog, too, Salamanca said.
Vegetarians won't be forgotten, either. Underdog plans to serve Smart Dogs brand hot dogs with fresh pico de gallo tossed in olive oil and topped with Southwest corn.
In August Salamanca closed his other restaurant, Cafe Con Leche at 1732 N. Milwaukee Ave. in order to put more "focus on the six corners," which he joked is the "epicenter of the world," but clarified he is talking about the Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues intersection and not Irving, Milwaukee and Cicero in Portage Park, which has long laid claim to the official name of "Six Corners."
A Yelp user named Grace L. wrote a four-star review of Underdogg in July 2009 and called the restaurant "an essential part of the Wicker Park crotch," referring to the unseemly word some use to describe Wicker Park's main hub.