The product of a Chicago native and 2010 graduate of the “Hot Dog University” in Chicago, Scruffy’s Hot Dogs opened in 2011 with a tasty and much needed idea: bring the Windy City’s best dishes to Dayton. The restaurant’s interior is filled with all things Chicago, from the namesake band to the typical posters espousing the use of Ketchup on a hot dog, which is tantamount to a desecration of the famous dish.
For all of the great places I’ve visited, this one is a little bit different. It’s not the food that makes this place truly outstanding. It’s the genuinely superb service that makes me want to come back.
The menu itself is pretty small right now; there is a small array of hot dogs, topped by the Scruffy’s special; the Chicago-style hot dog. A “real” Chicago hot dog is a complex beast: a real Chicago dog is based on a Vienna Beef dog, with a poppy seed bun, and “dragged through the garden” with mustard, onions, relish, a pickle, tomatoes, sport peppers and celery salt. The first time you try that dog, the flavor stays with you. True to the Chicago original, these dogs are spot-on, and as true to the original as you will find in this city.
The second best menu item is the Italian burger, another Chicago tradition. Italian beef is a close-shaved roast beef dipped in au jus between an Italian loaf. It’s a hefty, hearty sandwich with the options of cheese and a pepper topping to add some heat. They aren’t normal toppings in Chicago, but they are good. The other hot dogs are good, I tried the West Virginia style chili dog with cheese and mustard which was good. There is also a New York-style street dog and a polish sausage with just about any topping you want. You can also try the Gyros. These other food items are good, but honestly, the restaurant’s biggest strength is the aforementioned Chicago dishes.
So, the food is good, but what really pushes this restaurant from a great place to a spectacular place is the service, in the form of owner Steve Bell. From the moment you set foot into this place to the moment you leave, Steve will make you feel like the most comfortable person on earth. He’s exceptionally gregarious, very friendly, and very happy to talk all things Chicago. Even if you aren’t the talkative type, you’ll get a very honest “thank you” from the owner on the way out.
It’s amazing. Like anyone else, when I think about a restaurant I want to visit, I’m thinking about the food first. Service is of secondary importance. But to see a restaurant owner with this much passion is heartwarming. All of the staff have an infectiously good mood. It’s about the most pleasant restaurant I’ve ever experienced.
The friendly small town of Springboro sounds incompatible with the street food of fast-paced Chicago. But the distinct cuisine is perfectly translated. Seriously. You will have a good experience here.
- Get the Chicago Hot Dog first.
- Get the Italian burger second.
- This is definitely a family-oriented place.