Daynes Chicago Beef and Dawgs  
2951 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Thousand Oaks   

I am always on the hunt for cuisine that comes from other parts of the country or the world. Luckily enough for me, a semi-new joint opened in my neighborhood, serving Chicago-style beef and hot dogs. Being that I am a native Californian, I can’t know for sure if this was truly authentic, but I can say that it was delicious.

Daynes is situated on a main street and has a large outdoor patio complete with tables and heat lamps. The interior is small but warm, and feels as if you’re stepping into your neighbor’s home. It has a very hip yet laid-back vibe, especially with the bold logo plastered everywhere. There are a few metal tables, along with a communal table that allows for people watching.

When I arrived for dinner the cashier/server was very friendly and took the time to answer all of my questions about what to get. The service was quick, and within five minutes, my companion and I were enjoying our meal.

Since this restaurant is known for its Chicago specialties, we went with the two most popular dishes, the Chicago dog and the beef.

The Chicago dog came piled high with the classic Chicago fixin’s: relish, mustard, a kosher pickle spear, onions, sport peppers, tomatoes and celery salt. I couldn’t see the dog at first because of all the toppings piled on top. The relish on the dog was unlike any typical Heinz relish I had grown up eating. This relish was the color of green Jell-O and had much more flavor. It had a bit of tang, but was lighter and more refreshing. The tomatoes and fresh pickles provided sweetness and crunch, while the onions and peppers balanced the sweetness with their spiciness. The best part was that even with all of the toppings, I still tasted the rich, juicy and fatty flavor of the all-beef Vienna dog.

While I was devouring the hot dog, I even felt somewhat healthy due to all the veggies. I am used to eating hot dogs that make me feel as though I am in a food coma, so it was refreshing not to feel as if I was going to explode after enjoying this one.

Daynes claims to have the “tastiest sandwich this side of the Mississippi,” so of course I had to try it. I mean the words beef and dawg are in the eatery’s name, so I had pretty high expectations. My companion and I love spicy food, so we chose to have our sandwich topped with hot peppers. It should be noted that for those with milder taste buds, you can opt for sweet peppers.

The sandwich came on a thick Italian roll, very similar to ciabatta. The top of the sandwich had our spicy giardiniera (pickled vegetables), which was loaded with onions, habanero peppers and carrots. At first bite I felt my sinuses clear right up from the pungent vinegar and heat of the giardiniera. After my second bite I was able to taste the distinct flavor of the tender, thinly sliced beef, while still having the heat lingering in the back of my throat. The sandwich was doused in its own au jus, making it extremely juicy. The sandwich looks small, but it is heavily stuffed with beef. It’s definitely the kind of sandwich that you need to lean into to get a good bite.

By the time we had shared the hot dog and beef sandwich, we were pretty full, but we decided to share a small side of chili. After all, you can’t go to a hot dog joint and not try the chili. The chili was chock-full of ground beef and spices. Immediately I felt warmed, due to the nice heat that crept up a few seconds after swallowing the first bite. The chili was thick and rich, and seemed like it had been simmering for hours. There were no beans, which was an added bonus for me, since I am a no-bean chili kinda girl.

Daynes serves up great Chicago classics in a comfortable, neighborhood atmosphere. There is a complete menu of pizza breads, gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches, so there is always something new to try. I definitely will be back to sample some more good eats!