Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
Feb 14, 2006 10:46 PM

Chicago Style Hot Dog In Boston

  • s

I'm a BU student originally from the Chicago area. Back home, I feel like there are hot dog places on every corner and everyone has their favorite. I've found my favorite deli, thai place, burger, dimsum, north end pasta etc but I'm still desperately searching for even a decent dog in Boston. If one more person tells me Spikes is "awesome" I may get violent. I know hoping for an authentic Chicago Style hot dog (poppyseed bun, boiled vienna dog, celery salt, blissfully unnatural relish, and so on) may be overly optimistic but I'm hoping someone can at least suggest a decent place where a good hot dog costs less than five dollars. I'm not looking for gourmet, hot dogs are one of those things that shouldnt get gussied up. I'd settle for the location of a hot dog cart. Also, I dont have a car, so it needs to be T accesible.
Hot dogs are maybe the one thing from home I really miss, I can't even find the right things to buy. Help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. g

    There was a similar request recently on the New England board. The responses weren't promising but may be worth a try if you feel like driving.


    1. I just saw that conversation on the NE board, too. The one that sounded the best was in Fairfield, CT. (The link is below)

      Sorry, I think the last 10 hotdogs that I've gotten in the boston area were at either Fenway or Home Depot...but hot dogs, even when they're bad, they're pretty good.

      There's a couple of Coney Island type places in Worcester, but I doubt that helps.

      My advice would be to find someone with a car who'll drive you to Fairfield, CT to get a hotdog. Then marry them.


      1. The one thing I will say that a proper Boston dog should be in a proper New England style hot dog roll, which should be buttered and grill-toasted on the outsides. Kelly's does at least that much very right.

        If memory serves, the old-style Boston dogs involved putting relish and onions on the bun first, before topping with a dog, et cet. But I think that way of doing things has died out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          PS: Getting a proper Chicago dog outside of Chicago requires the presence of a sufficient number of able and willing Chicagoans to create demand and a resolution to it.

          The cognate for Bostonians would be trying to get a proper lobster roll outside of eastern New England. There are places where ex-patriots (as it were) manage to get things together, but they are few and far between.

          I do salute the proud hot dog heritage of Chicago from afar, though. I think Chicago is one of the best chow towns around. I think Boston has come a long way, though in the process some of its own precious chow traditions have faded or been distorted.

          1. re: Karl S

            Why do I think of a chili dog when I think Boston dog? Maybe it's the baked beans thing?

          2. Speed's (a truck in Newmarket Square, generally operating only in warm, fair weather) does not only the best hot dog I've ever had in Boston, but the best hot dog I've had anywhere, and I've had some doozies, notably in Chicago. But the town isn't without other worthwhile dogs:

            * The Butcher Shop in the South End. Not always on the menu, but a weiner of the Fenway Frank size, grayish rather than pink for lack of artificial coloring, and very, very tasty. The only place I know that makes its own on the premises. A very fancy place for a dog, I must admit. It's served with cornichons, not relish, which I guess you should expect for your $13.

            * Appleton Bakery-Cafe, also in the South End. A grilled Pearl hot dog served with carmelized onions and/or other fancy fixings on an excellent, homemade roll. Dogs served Mondays only, I believe.

            * Jacob Wirth, near the Theater District -- I prefer the grilled smoked bratwurst and weisswurst plate here (with German potato salad and two kinds of cabbage), but they do a good grilled foot-long dog here with baked beans and fries for $5.

            * Cafe Polonia, on Dot Ave in Southie -- not a true hot dog, but a superb grilled kielbasa on a good sub roll with carmelized onions and kraut for $6. Open for lunch and dinner.

            * Jasper White's Summer Shack, Alewife -- they do a grilled jumbo Pearl hot dog here, too, but more notable is their homemade corn dog. It's the only really excellent corn dog I've ever had.

            * Spike's Junkyard Dogs, Allston -- only by reputation; I have not tried their dogs.

            * Tex Barry's Coney Island (the downtown Taunton, MA locale is the only surviving one, I believe) -- I must have eaten a couple hundred of these growing up in Southeastern MA: a non-descript dog on a Wonder Bread roll, with French's yellow mustard and chopped yellow onions. The secret sauce was what made it: a really fine ground-beef chili sauce with a hint of cinnamon on top, with an optional squeeze of melted Cheez Whiz. (Probably better in my memory than in actuality today.)

            * This is probably horrible to mention to a Chicagoan, but I had a decent ersatz Chicago-style dog when there was an A&W outlet in the food court of the Burlington Mall some years back (I doubt it's still there). Just good enough to make me miss the originals from when I lived in Chicago many years ago. In fairness, it did have the yellow mustard, bizarrely-bright-green sweet relish, chopped onions, kosher dill spear, sliced tomatoes, sport peppers, celery salt, and poppy-seed bun.

            7 Replies
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I have a question regarding Speed's dogs. I know he serves Pearls, but I don't know where you can purchase them. Does any one know?


              1. re: kate@50

                Shaws and larger Stop & Shops carry them. So does Costco. It's gotten harder, however, to find the regular size, as only the large size is commonly available in the past couple of years.

                1. re: Karl S

                  Thanks I'll take a look next time I'm food shopping.

                2. re: kate@50

                  THey have the large ones at Johnnies Foodmaster.

                3. re: MC Slim JB

                  Great list, would like to add just one more. Code 10, also in the South End, on Washington Street, serves a variety of dogs,including Pearl. There are assorted toppings and I always find the staff really friendly. I also really enjoy their paninis.

                  As for Speeds, yeah, you probably need to wait till it warms up, I'm thinking late April to May, and then he'll be out in full force. Not exactly convenient to public transportation, but certainly do-able, and definitely worth the trip. Without a doubt the best hot dog I've ever had. I dream about these dogs.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    Just a note about the tex barry chile dog review. The chile is not made from "finely" ground beef, the texture is actually a result of the cooking process. I have found this out while trying to recreate the recipe. I sucessfully figured out the flavour but had a difficult time with the texture and after many failed attempts I finally achieved the true Tex Barry Chile sauce in both taste and texture. Tex Barry's is by far the best chiledog in North America.

                    1. re: paulda

                      Would love the recipe, if you can share!

                  2. e
                    Ernie Diamond


                    It's not the real deal, to be sure but the "Junkyard Dog" at Spike's on Brighton ave is a fair substitute. Don't get your hopes up, you will not find an exact Chicago-style dog but it is very good, very cheap and very satisfying.