Eating an elk sausage in downtown Elkhart during Elkhart Dining Days is probably the most Elkhart thing I’ve ever done.
And I’ll probably do it again.
Elk are not native to Elkhart, but obviously the city’s name makes you think of the animal. That connection is what Eddy Hayden was counting on when deciding what to serve at his restaurant Hotdogeddy’s for Elkhart Dining Days 2016.
Hayden ordered the elk sausage — which is mixed with some chicken and pork — from Chicago and slow-cooked it under a layer of pork belly. The sausage is served on a toasted Italian bun with some of the pork belly, beer cheese and banana peppers.
And boy, is it good.
I had never eaten elk before, but several friends told me that it was really good. I was not disappointed.
When I took my first bite, I was immediately surprised by the consistency of the elk. The sausage was almost as soft as the lightly toasted Italian bun, which was more pleasant than I would have expected. The flavor was similar to a mild Italian sausage and it paired really well with the pork belly (which resembled a shredded, juicy pot roast). The beer cheese was also mild and not too cheesy. The crunch of the banana pepper slices pulled the entire sandwich together — you absolutely cannot skip those and might want to even ask for a couple extra.
The mild flavors were distinct enough to stand out from each other but they melded together like the best kind of comfort food. It blew me away with its simplicity.
It also made me full. The “elk dog” at Hotdogeddy’s is served with an old-fashioned soda, and that was the perfect amount of food for lunch.
Speaking of the old-fashioned soda, Hotdogeddy’s has a really nice variety of bottled soda. I went with Boylan Bottling Company’s birch soda, which tastes like a mix of cream soda, root beer and some kind of fruit. It too was fantastic.
The only downside to ordering the elk dog at Hotdogeddy’s is the price: $15 for the dog and bottled soda (tax included). It’s more than I usually pay for lunch, but the experience of eating elk was definitely worth it, especially knowing that 10 percent of the price of my meal is going to Church Community Services.
The Hotdogeddy’s Elkhart Dining Days menu also includes a Chicago-style hot dog (made with real Vienna beef) and a drink for $5 during lunch and a haystack with coffee, juice or milk for $7.50 during breakfast hours.
You can’t really go wrong with any menu item at Hotdogeddy’s, but I highly recommend the elk dog. You can only get it during Elkhart Dining Days, so make sure to stop by during lunch before Oct. 29.