While planning my trip to Chicago this past October, I came across a tour that I really wanted to take. However, there were a couple of problems.
- The tours are only given on Wednesday mornings and we were arriving Thursday night
- The tour was booked up through winter 2014
The tour that would elude me was a visit to the manufacturing facility of Vienna Beef.
If I couldn’t get to learn about how hot dogs were made at VB, I decided to do the next best thing- visit the Vienna Beef Factory Store & Cafe.
My brother and I drove to Vienna Beef and liked what we saw right away. The building was kind of funky looking (it reminded me of some of the Cold War era buildings of Eastern Europe) with the VB brand logos over the door and on a couple of awnings.
When we entered the store, there were many products for sale.
There was a deli counter with various meats for sale, priced by the pound. The girl at the counter was very generous handing out samples to taste. If I lived nearby or had a fridge in our hotel room I would’ve considered bringing some home. They also had a variety of salamis- some refrigerated, others hanging to dry out. You could also buy the famous Vienna Beef hot dogs by the case. There were also sausages, dried meat sticks, condiments and pickles as well as a small amount of souvenirs for sale.
|The Hall of Fame|
While trying to figure out what to buy, the girl at the counter offered us her employee discount. We had a lot of fun going back and forth with her joking around and negotiating prices. There was a lot of sarcasm involved but all in good fun!
My brother was thinking about buying one of the hanging, hard & dried salamis. I was looking to buy one of the Vienna Beef logo t-shirts. I also asked if there were any VB hats and told her how I collect them. She brought us each a paper hat that the employees wear. (Not exactly the kind of hat what I was looking for but a nice gesture nonetheless.)
My brother ended up buying a half of the dried salami (I forgot what discount he got).
I had to go through a tough negotiation. The shirt I wanted was marked $20 which I was no way going to spend. It was offered to me for $15 but I politely declined saying how I didn’t really need it and would probably never wear it. When I was offered the shirt for a final offer of $10, I had to accept. (I still have not worn the shirt but will probably do so at some point.)
Next up was a little snack in the employee cafeteria/ cafe. I had to try a Vienna Beef hot dog directly from the source. Due to being a very picky eater, I ordered my hot dog pretty much plain, not Chicago style.
For those that do not know, a Chicago style hot dog (according to Wikipedia) is:
Topped with yellow mustard; chopped white onions; bright green sweet pickle relish; a dill pickle spear; tomato slices or wedges; pickled sport peppers; and a dash of celery salt. The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be “dragged through the garden” due to the many toppings.
The only topping I asked for was celery salt. I also like ketchup on my hot dogs. The hot dog had great flavor and was very tasty. (FYI- Vienna Beef hot dogs are 100% domestic beef.)
I also love how Chicago hot dogs come with poppy seed buns.
The cafe menu also had lots of deli sandwiches, hamburgers and sausages available at a reasonable price. From what I could tell, the most popular item in the cafeteria was the corned beef sandwich.
After finishing the visit, my brother and I decided to take some jumping photos. After a few minutes outside, one of the girls from the deli counter came out and tried to jump too. She ended up doing more of a pose but good job for trying!
|My brother Corey trying a jump|
|Michael W. jumping|
|Sorry for the blurry pic|
Overall our visit to Vienna Beef was a lot of fun. We spent much more time there than we initially expected. If you plan to visit Chicago I highly recommend stopping by for some great food. The staff at the deli counter are very friendly, funny & sarcastic. They try hard to make everyone stopping in feel welcome and leave with a smile on their face.
If you want to sign up for a tour of Vienna Beef (after winter 2014) Click Here.
Vienna Beef is located at 2501 North Damen Avenue Chicago, IL 60647.
Opening Hours are: Mon-Fri 8:00am- 3:00pm, Saturday 10:00a-3:00p
(This post is in no way sponsored by Vienna Beef. We really had a great time!)