Highland Park and Buffalo Grove, IL
I haven't been able to post my all-time favorite hot dog stand because it's in the suburbs of Chicago and I didn't have any pictures. But like a beacon of hope, my childhood pal Caryn Caldarelli was at the Buffalo Grove location today and was kind enough to take some pics for me!
What makes Michael's so exceptional? The hot dogs are absolutely perfect and the cheddar fries unparalleled. Perfectly golden, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The sauce is a Wisconsin cheddar, not that Cheez Whiz bs. I could dip my head in a vat of Michael's cheddar and be very content to live like that for the rest of my life.
I've been going to the Michael's in Highland Park since it was called Nathan's like 30 years ago. Then he got sued and changed the name to Michael's. I've seen it expand with a trendy salad bar in the 80s and the addition of the ice cream stand. But one thing has always stayed the same: the pictures of happy kids eating hot dogs all over the walls.
Some of the staff have been there for decades. I was a camp counselor during the summer in high school and one of my little campers Ben has been there since he was old enough to work. He prob doesn't remember me but every time I go in there and see him it makes me smile.
I go there as much as possible. Even though my parents moved to downtown Chicago, when I visit, I make my mom drive up Lake Shore Drive and Sheridan Road all the way to Michael's. I love looking at the gorgeous mansions in Kenilworth and Winnetka (my fav is a gigantic Spanish estate, picture TK, or a Frank Lloyd Wright) and picking out the one I'll never live in...
The Baha'i Temple is so cool, too...
Michael's: ************ (one million stars)