Second Helping: Mile High Vienna

At the tender age of incredibly-awkward-teenager, I was packed, along with an econo-sized bottle of zit cream and my discman, into my family's mini van for a summer road trip through the romantic Midwest. I was a terrible human to be around at that age, bitching about every stop along the way until we got to Chicago.

In the Windy City, I was placated by a barrage of junk food, and I became especially fond of Chicago dogs, Polish sausage and Italian beef, shredded and peppered on hefty Gonnella rolls.

The onset of every summer since then has brought on an intense craving for the Chicago street snacks I ate until I became rotund. This year, I decided to sate the craving at Mile High Vienna, a hot dog spot that opened on Santa Fe Drive three years ago.

Inside this small space, Sonny Jarock and Jeremy Williamson have created a shrine to Denver and Chicago sports, lining the walls with memorabilia from both cities. The menu shares a similar division, with Chicago dogs and Italian beef sandwiches available alongside green chile and tamales.

A Chicago dog is more dependent on recipe than technique, and Mile High does it exactly right, piling a springy Vienna beef dog with sliced tomatoes, onions, neon green relish, spicy sport peppers, a pickle spear, mustard and celery salt (of course) on a steamed, poppy seed bun. I always order two with a clip of crispy pencil-thin fries, powering through it all while I remember trudging through the streets of Chicago.

Mile High Vienna also makes a proper Italian beef: thinly sliced roast beef piled with giardinera -- a blend of carrots, celery and serrano peppers marinated in salt, pepper, Italian seasonings and oil -- and sandwiched between two halves of an authentic Gonnella roll, dunked in beef jus so that it's wet and chewy. This sandwich is an ideal taste of the Windy City -- without the humid heat.

Mile High Vienna opened another location near Coors Field this year, too, which serves as an ideal pre-Rockies game stop.

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