Everyone has heard the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” When it comes to Windy City Red Hots, don’t worry about the fact that this “restaurant” is actually a lunch wagon parked in the corner of an Ashburn nursery. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on the best red hots this side of Chicago. Some like their hot dogs grilled, some prefer them steamed or others, like me, simply don’t care. But I have to say that since going to Windy City, I now have a greater appreciation for steamed, not to mention a poppy seed hot dog roll. I’m usually a creature of habit when it comes to my dogs, ordering one with mustard and onions and a second with chili and ketchup. I continued this trend at Windy City and while owner Angel Miranda may have been disappointed at my lack of red hot etiquette, he never mentioned it. The other day, I asked Angel for a traditional red hot with everything — mustard, relish, onions, tomato, pickles, peppers and celery salt. How good was it? Well, I’ll put it this way: I’ve wasted a year’s worth of red hots and I should be ashamed of myself. From now on, I’m going traditional, which will not only please Angel, but also Doug from Hot Doug’s, the famous “Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium” in Chicago where I began my love affair with this style of hot dog. (Hot Doug’s also forces you to ignore your first impression as it is located in a not-so-great part of town.) Since Windy City doesn’t have the space, Hot Doug’s has the edge when it comes to selection, featuring more than 10 types of “encased meat” on the menu and another 10 or so daily specials. But when it comes to quality, Windy City native Miranda more than holds his own with Chicago’s red hot icon. In fact, I shouldn’t have written this before eating lunch since I’m now craving a couple of traditional Windy City Red Hots. (Update: On the day I wrote this, I drove past Windy City and sadly, they had closed just 30 minutes earlier. The very next day, I stopped by and had two red hots with everything. I also tried the pizza puff for the first time and that is another winner. Angel mentioned that his wife, Pia, had found my blog post from just one day earlier. I’m not surprised. She did an outstanding job with the design of the Windy City Red Hots Web site and the portfolio for Pia Miranda’s graphic design company is first-rate.) Windy City Red Hots rating: Double thumbs up

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