I understand and empathize with your distaste for long lines. There is an easy solution though. Get there early (Doug opens at 10:30am) as we did and be toward the front of the line, or, wait until later in the day (He closes at 4:00pm) when the bulk of the line has died down. Also, avoid Fridays and Saturdays as the duck fat fries cause a frenzy that doesn't materialize quite so much during the week.
There is some new competition in town, fRedhots (sic) being the first to capitalize on Doug's success with gourmet sausages. They do a reputable job and definitely should be tried. Also entering the market is a new place called Chicago's Dog House over in the DePaul neighborhood. A couple of recent DePaul graduates, inspired by Hot Doug's, started the place a few months ago. They are serving a similar menu to Doug's.
The reason Doug's is so popular is because he was the first one to do what he does, break the mold of the typical Chicago Hot Dog stand and serve gourmet sausages with unique and unusual toppings. Doug is a classicaly trained chef and he brings all that knowledge and talent into his operation.
It's true that he does not currently make his own sausages, but all his siganture items are his recipes, manufactured to his specifications. What he serves could not be found just by walking into your neighborhood butcher shop and asking for it. Plus, he is using toppings that exhibit the true extent of his culinary abilities.
Beyond that, If you ain't convinced now, there's not much more I can tell you.
Buddy Hot Doug's
3324 N California Ave
Chicago, IL 60618-5848
(773) 279-9550 www.hotdougs.com fRedhots and Fries
1707 Chestnut Ave.
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 657-9200 http://www.fredhots.com/
Chicago's Dog House
816 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614-2413