Update (November 2009): Based on the e-mail we received from Steve (the owner), we were excited to give Mad Dog's another try. They appeared to have made significant changes/improvements to their Chicago Dog, so we expected great things. The good news is that Mad Dog's has changed more than just their logo and delivered in a big way. Their Chicago Dog is now one of the best in town!
We anxiously waited as our Chicago Dogs were assembled. Mad Dog's now completes the Chicago Dog for you, so thankfully, the customer is no longer responsible for finishing the dog. Another notable change is that they now serve all Chicago Dogs with Vienna brand hot dogs instead of Hebrew National. The other dog-related items on their menu still come standard with a Hebrew National, but you can easily substitute with a Vienna if you want. We were extremely happy to see that they also switched to the coveted neon green relish...need we say more?
Our Chicago Dogs were fantastic...a welcome change from the dog we experienced on our first visit. Their DOGS score has rocketed to a 9.7 from the mere 7.9 they received from our first review. Their overall rating has also jumped from 3 stars to 5 which places Mad Dog's in the "Definitely recommended" category. This dog was so good that we're pretty sure that even Paul Soglin would love this dog.
Update (October 2009): We received the following e-mail from Steve, the owner of Mad Dogs:
Just to let you know, we have learned the error of our ways and have updated Mad Dog's to three items:
I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the Chicago Style purists for our past mistakes and invite you to try us again, for the best Chicago dog in Madison!
- We now make all Chicago Dog's to completion.
- We now have the neon-green pickle relish from Vienna.
- We now proudly serve Vienna beef hot dogs and stick to our motto "We have bigger wieners" by serving 5/1 hot dogs as opposed to the 6/1 served elsewhere.
Original Review (August 2009): We were excited to hear about the reopening of Mad Dogs. Our good friend, Doug Moe, gave us a heads up. He mentioned that the new ownership was going in a slightly different direction than the previous establishment. The new Mad Dogs features a number of signature dogs and sides. Pulled Pork, among other things, is prominently featured on the menu, both by itself and as a topping. The outside of Mad Dogs looks exactly the same as it previously did and the inside is very similar including shelf seating with stools and one table in the middle.
We arrived at Mad Dogs around noon. They were not overly busy, but there was a steady stream of customers once we sat down. Signature dogs (polish or brats) can be ordered, however, you can add condiments and topping for a nominal charge. We ordered a few Chicago dogs and a Harry Caray Special (a polish with pulled pork on top). The dogs arrived quickly after ordering, but we were surprised to find that the Chicago dogs needed a little manual intervention to bring them up to Chicago Style standards. We were instructed to use the self-serve area that contained mustard, a condiment which shall not be named, standard relish and onions. This was a little disappointing, since we're lazy and more importantly, there wasn't bright green sweet relish anywhere on the premises.
Mad Dogs serves 1/4 lb jumbo Hebrew National dogs, instead of the traditional Vienna Beef or Red Hot Chicago brand dogs. The dog was nice and juicy and tasted good. It didn't have the complex flavor of some of the aforementioned dogs, but it was still tasty and much better than their retail line of Hebrew National dogs. The pickle was decent size and had a nice crunch. A poppy seed bun, two tomato slices, two sport peppers and a couple of dashes of celery salt rounded out the portion of the dog that was prepared. We'd have to break a couple of rules to make it Chicago Style...mainly, adding mustard on top of the celery salt. When you order a Chicago Dog, you have certain expectations that the dog is complete and ready to eat without the need to roll up your sleeves and finish the job.
A dog, fries and a drink run under six bucks, which isn't the perfect price point in our book, but the dog is super sized and they're pretty generous with the oven baked fries.
Overall we were somewhat underwhelmed by Mad Dogs Chicago dog. It wasn't bad, but with other places such as Cocanates within shouting distance, we don't find a compelling reason to get a Chicago dog here. However, if you're craving some pulled pork, homemade Italian beef, or a funky combination of dog and toppings, it may just be nirvana to you. They also have a great slogan, "Our wieners are bigger".