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Top 3 Hot Dogs

I am looking for people to list their top 3 "Dogs" starting with their Favorite. I am traveling to your wonderful city next week and will be hitting the consensus top 3 that is given here. Not to formulate my own opinion, which undoubtedly will occur, but to savor what Chicagoans (whom I believe are the experts) feel are the best. I am staying downtown but will travel anywhere in the metro area in search of the favorites. Your expert opinion is appreciated, thanks ahead of time.

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  1. Look no further than Hot Doug's. If you go on Fri or Sat, expect a long line out the door for his duck fat fried french fries which are to die for. His motto : "There are no 2 finer words in the english language than 'encased meats'."

    He makes all kinds of dogs - rattlesnake, elk, boar... you name it and he's probably made it. He mans the counter himself and is a very congenial guy.

    Have fun. The 'Don Rickles' was one of my faves.

    Hot Doug's
    3324 North California

    p.s. If you don't fancy waiting in a long line, try Portillo's... great all beef dog.

    6 Replies
    1. re: caliking

      Hot Doug's is okay but more a specialty joint, not really what I have in mind when I want a real Chicago hot dog -- and how did this discussion about same get this far without mentioning either Fluky's on Western OR the deli at the Vienna Hot Dog Factory on Fullerton and Damen?? The factory deli makes the quintessential "garden on a bun" Chicago dog, and they'll even sell you the appropriate condiments on the spot -- including that typically radioactive green relish and a great big bottle of celery salt that is, thankfully, more celery than salt. I bought my jar of celery salt two years ago and despite almost daily use haven't finished it yet -- but I'm getting very close! It's the best on fresh tomatoes, which every true Chicago dog has.

      As for Fluky's, it's a classic -- and that includes their hotdog-shaped bubble gum!

      1. re: lindygal

        Alas, that is no longer Fluky's on Western. Which is too bad cause I grew up on that Fluky's. Last time I checked they didn't have the hotdog gum either

        1. re: lbs

          Every Halloween, Fluky's went all out, with an animatronic cat that poked its head out of a trash can, animatronic ghostly draping skeletons over the tables. It causes me real emotional pain to know it's closed.

          1. re: Rhizome Rizzo

            OMG! Flashback overload...... I totally forgot about the cat and trash can. Thank you!

          2. re: lbs

            I believe all the Fluky's changed into Lucky Dog's.

            Lucky Dog
            7151 16th St, Berwyn, IL 60402

            1. re: nightsweat

              Fluky's seasonal decorations were cute and the kids loved them, but I think that's one of the things that led to Fluky's losing its reputation and credibility among dedicated Chicago Dog Purists. It seems to me they started the decorations about the same time they put in the salad bar and started selling soup and chicken sandwiches, which is always a bad sign.

      2. I love the recently opened Fredhots and Fries, in Glenview, a near north suburb just off the Edens expressway. It deserves a longer post. It does all the usual suspects well - dogs, polish, burgers - and exotic sausages, like cajun chicken, elk, and reindeer (for Christmas). It also has a sandwich of the day, like marinated grilled pork. The fries - which are not crunchy enough for me (but neither are Hot Doug's) - are wonderfully perked up by the accompanying belgian garlic mayo, or aoli mayo, etc. A friendly staff. And they are open until 7 PM.

        FRedhots and Fries
        1707 Chestnut Ave

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowhunt46

          I live near there, Ill have to try it out!

        2. Any hot dog "run" must include a trip to Gene and Jude's. Unbelievable, snappy Vienna Dogs. The natural casing helps to hold in the flavor and gives every bite a burst of meaty flavor. They lack a couple of the ingredients of a traditional Chicago dog but their product is still top notch. You can eat standing up at the bar encircling this stand or take your bag o dogs back to your car and watch other patrons filing in. There is usually a line but it moves quickly. Every trip I can't help but smile as I make my way through the line and approach the counter to order. Don't ask for ketchup!!!

          Gene and Jude's
          2720 River Rd (Cross Street: Grand Avenue)
          River Grove, IL 60171

          9 Replies
          1. re: Big Willi

            One of the BEST. I grew up in Chicago and my very favorite was on Dickens & Halsted but it was torn down decades ago - NOW THAT PLACE WAS AWESOME!!!!

            Gene & Jude Red Hot Stand
            2720 River Rd, River Grove, IL 60171

            1. re: cecilia moore

              I completely agree. I grew up in Hyde Park, and used to drive to the North Side just to have a dog and a coke at that stand. Ahhhhh.

              1. re: IonaTrailer

                Gene & Jude's has never served a pickle on their hot dogs.

                1. re: chicagostyledog

                  You're right, you're right, and i stand most gratefully corrected.

              2. re: cecilia moore

                For years I lived on Dickens and Bissell and I used to eat lunch, dinner, and breakfast at that stand. As I recall, the owner's name was George and he had a bad burn on one cheek that looked like a cooking accident. He just about lived there and told me how he used to catch some sleep in back on the sacks of unpeeled potatoes.

                I have many fond memories of staggering back from the bars on North Avenue on a freezing winter's night and seeing the glow of that stand with the clouds of steam billowing from the service window and knowing civilization was nigh. At the time, a dog and fries cost $1 and were wrapped together in paper and put in a little brown paper bag, and you'd grab the paper and pull it free, spilling the fries into the bag, then eat the dog as you walked home. The dog would heat you up inside while the bag of hot fries kept your hand warm.

                1. re: dr_mabeuse

                  My memories begin with Frank and then a bag of fries cost $0.20 and a hot dog with fries cost just $0.25. circa 1953.

                  1. re: dr_mabeuse

                    dr_mabeuse, It seems like you remember a lot from my old neighborhood - but do you remember an Italian Beef Sandwich served on a bun ? My memories are a little hazy because I think I was only 5 or 6 when my folks used go there but I can still taste it - the best ever. I also remember getting it with Mustard, Relish, and Onions on it. The place was called Rocky's and located on Clybourn and North Ave ???? Really hazy.

                    1. re: cecilia moore

                      Wow! An Italian beef in a *bun*? No, that's a new one to me, but I should say that I actually grew up on the North Side in Budlong Woods, around Foster and California, and didn't move down to the Halsted Armitage neighborhood till I'd started college in '60. As a kid, every Tuesday night my dad would bring hot dogs from Lerner's, which I *think* was on Lawrence near Kedzie near the old Terminal Theater, though I also recall a stand-alone shack on the SE corner of Bryn Mawr and Kedzie that I think was called Lerner's too. So things get hazy for me back there.

                2. re: Big Willi

                  For the pure Zen Essence of the Great Chicago Hot Dog there is alas, only one place left: Gene and Jude's. This is NOT for sissies. This is NOT for tourists. Because this is NOT the modern "Chicago Style" dog piled up with slop like tomato and lettuce and cucumber slices and celery salt and so much other crap that it's like eating a bad salad with some kind of sausage buried in it. That is NOT a classic Chicago-style dog.

                  The classic Chicago Hot Dog stands and falls on its own merits: a toothsome casing that snaps when you bite into it and releases a buttery-beefy rush of spicy and garlicky hotdog flavor that makes the senses reel, nestled into a perfectly-steamed bun whose bland doughiness provides the solid stage upon with the flavors of the dog can whirl and dance. This is what you find at Gene and Jude's, and it's worth the 40 minute drive it now takes up.

                  AT Gene and Jude's, ALL they serve are dogs, tamales, fries, and soft drinks. The ONLY condiments available are mustard, relish, onions, peppers and pickle. That's how God intended it, and a trip to Gene and Jude's will reveal the wisdom of His plan. Once upon a time, before the advent of that hellacious "garden dog" where you can't tell wither the weiner is Vienna or Hygrade BallPark, most Chicago hotdogs were this good, but no more.

                  Oh yeah: real hand cut fries too, rolled up with the dog in the classic "meal-on-a-bun" configuration. Damn! I need one NOW!

                3. For the total experience, nothing comes close to the Wiener's Circle... especially weekends after midnite. One year Robert Parker (of Wine fame), picked it as one of his 10 most memorable meals.

                  Just based purely on the dog, there's this place opposite the Clark Street Ale House... it's around 735 Clark or so... forget the name, nondescript, and not worth a trip out of your way. BUt tasty if you're there.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    i would love to see parker at wiener's circle... wouldn't it be great to see those lovely ladies lambaste that dude?! i wish i was there

                  2. 1. Jimmy's Red Hots (Grand & Pulaski) This is my favorite dog ever. Perfect Vienna beef dog with greasy fresh cut fries. The only place I know that still serves fiery hot sport peppers on their dogs.
                    2. Wolfie's (located on Peterson) Been going here alot recently. Love the celery salt.
                    3. Hot Doug's (3324 N. California) Known for the various types of sausage they still got a great Chicago dog. Doesn't have the greasy hot dog stand feel that I prefer but they do have the best corn dog in the city. I also dig the fries. You can order fries cooked in duck fat on the weekends but the regular fries are very good.

                    1. Superdawg. It's been on TV a ton of times. They actually have a special mixture of meat/spices that nobody else has. The fries are THE best and it's a drive-in.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: rubinow

                        My favorite hot dog currently is Portillos. Very consistently good. But it is on my very-soon-to-do list to go to Hot Dougs, which may change things.

                        1. re: rubinow

                          The people at Superdawg claim to have a special recipe hot dog. This is not true. They use a Sinai 48 dog that is made by Best Kosher. Never been to Chicago, but friends who have say Gene and Jude's is the best in Chicago. I think if I went, I would agree. Natural casing Vienna Beef dog with just mustard, relish, onions, and sports peppers. No pickle, no tomato. According to many, this was how Chicago dogs were made years ago. Some time later, tomatoes and pickles were added. I am a minimalist who prefers just mustard, but here would have the mustard and relish. I hear that the fries are excellent and prices are reasonable.

                          1. re: hotdoglover

                            I agree with how the trimmings were many years ago. tomatoes, pickles, celery salt all came later - I prefer the original way on a Vienna hot dog

                            1. re: cecilia moore

                              First time I ever encountered that "garden dog" concoction that's now mistakenly called Chicago Style was in about 1959-60 at a place on the NE corner of California and Touhy called Paul's Umbrella. They loaded on tomatoes and celery salt and--if I recall correctly--cucumber slices. I remember that my folks found these an especially exotic take on the usual Lerner's Hotdog, and Paul's was quite the rage for a while, but to my skeptical tastes, all that superfluous vegetation seemed to be masking a decidedly inferior-quality sausage, and I've been anti garden-dog ever since.

                              The classic Chicago hot dog I knew from the mid-50's on up was a kosher sausage on a poppy seed bun with yellow mustard, relish, and onions (and never, ever ketchup). Typically the fries were thrown on top of the dog and all wrapped together in white tissue paper to keep everything warm, giving the classic "meal-on-a-bun" arrangement. Later, sport peppers and pickles gained acceptance, but for me, that dreaded salad-on-a-sausage that now passes as a Chicago Style Hot Dog will always bear the same relationship to the real Classic as one of those parasol-bearing, tropical fruit-laden Trader Vic cocktails does to a good glass of scotch.

                          2. re: rubinow

                            Crinklecuts from a freezer are "THE best"?

                            I'm sorry, but that is chowhound blasphemy.

                            Superdawgs are indeed super, but...

                            1. re: GroovinGourmet

                              Well, they're not from the freezer according this website: http://www.superdawg.com/faqs_content...

                              Using frozen fries WOULD be blasphemy, but they don't do it at Superdawg.

                              Now, getting the facts wrong and spreading it on chowhound...

                          3. 1) Huey's Hotdogs on Berywn and Clark in Andersonville - nice snap and the fries are excellent bonus.
                            2) Wolfy's on Peterson (by Mather high school). Rarely get there b/c I don't have a car, but has been a consistent good dog for years.
                            3) Any hot dog at a sporting event just cause.

                            1. To be honest, I didn't much care for Hot Doug's. I thought it was a little too fancy for a real Chicago hot dog. Plus the neighborhood isn't exactly the image I want visitors to take home of Chicago. I vote for:
                              1) Wieners Circle: served and eaten by real Chicagoans
                              2) Portillo's: Good intro for tourists and convenient to attractions
                              3) Superdawg: Not an especially great hot dog, but certainly a landmark.

                              1. I must confirm all the praise for Hot Dougs. I finally had my first experience and the lines are for real, especially brutal in the middle of winter, but once I bit into my rabbit sausage topped with big chunks of foi gras, I forgot all about the long wait. I also need to give a shout out to Wrigleyville Dogs, on Clark just north of Waveland. They do the toppings right and it is a good neighborhood for tourists.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: selliot1958

                                  All mentions of rabbit sausage with foi gras should be banned from a discussion of Chicago Hot Dogs. Hot Doug's is not a Chicago hot dog joint, it is a museum/funeral for same.

                                  1. re: Comb Technology

                                    Exactly. Hot Doug's is an excellent eatery, but it's in no way a Chicago Hot Dog place, and they offer a completely different experience.

                                    Hot Doug's
                                    3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                                2. Henry's in Cicero, Ill--the single greatest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere (pace, Mr. Trillin)

                                  1. 1- Hot Dougs
                                    2- Hot Dougs
                                    3- Hot Dougs

                                    1. 1. Gene and Jude's
                                      2. Portillos
                                      3. Jimmy's Red Hots

                                      1. 1. Gene and Jude's
                                        2. Hot Doug's
                                        3. Wiener's Circle

                                        1. 1. Poochies
                                          2. Gene & Judes
                                          3. Hot Dougs

                                          Curious to know about the Char vs. Steam preferences out there.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: boucherie

                                            About 70% of all Chicago stands serve steamed, and many offer both.

                                          2. So you want a real “Chicago hot dog” right? Well for the most part you can almost just go by the "brand" they sell instead of "stand" that steams it on this one. Brands to look for:
                                            1) Vienna Beef
                                            2) Best Kosher
                                            3) Chicago Red Hot

                                            Now my favorite stands:

                                            1) Gene & Jude’s (this one really stands out, and the fries are hand cut fresh on site)
                                            2) Superdawg (great 50's drive in atmosphere, amazing shakes)
                                            3) Fast Track is a neat place downtown

                                            I’ll give a very honorable mention to Portillo’s since any of them are fine, including Downtown, and they really are all over.

                                            Best Kosher, Vienna, Portillo's & Flukie’s all have their own “Grocery store” sausages (usually without the natural casings, but they’re all very good) if you opt to get packages from the store if you want to take something back home or missed one in particular.

                                            Now for the last thing, I know theses are always fighting words with those rabid Hot Doug’s fans:

                                            A Chicago hot dog is pure beef!! Any other sausage offering is not a Chicago hot dog, PERIOD! The poster didn’t ask for Italian, Polish or Brats, they asked for “Chicago hot dogs”
                                            Which means: PURE BEEF sausages, not rabbit, deer, or any other strange meat gourmet combination like what you would get from Hot Doug’s! Save that one for your “Wild Chicago” excursions with locals who want something unique and out of the ordinary. Remember, out of Towner’s are not here for the oddball variations that bare no resemblance to the original Chicago Style hot dog, they are here for what made the city famous, so don’t go and get defensive about it, just try to stay on topic.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: abf005


                                              As noted above, Hot Doug's makes a very good standard Chicago-style hot dog.

                                              1. re: emsquared

                                                I'm not disputing what you (or anyone else) says about Hot Doug's, I am well aware that they have a Chicago style dog. But every-time someone from out of town asks this question the same overzealous dozen or so Doug's fans try to filibuster the thread with everything BUT a Chicago dog recommendation citing elk meat, goat cheese and c'mon: duck fat fries? So what! It's just more proof that's it's not a typical Chicago experience.

                                                I am trying to making a neutral point about a cultural icon and the way it should (and is) generaly precieved from outside the city. as such, Hot Dougs is not like 99% of the Chicago hot dog stands and although that may make it worthy of mention for a unique visit from a local or for out of towner seeking such a unique experience it so far off the mainstream that it is akin to recomending California Pizza Kitchen for Chicago style pizza just because its offered on a menu in between all the Cali style crap. Get it?

                                                If it walks like duck and talks like a duck then Doug will fry you in it and stuff the rest in a casing....

                                                1. re: abf005

                                                  Note the OP asked for the top three "dogs," not the most "authentic Chicago style stand-type dog that I can't get anywhere else because nobody else has celery-salt as a condiment." If the OP had asked for the best pizza in Chicago, I'd have no compunction about recommending Spaccanapoli even though it's a far cry from Chicago-style pizza. Doug's, as mentioned, is a unique purveyor of high-quality sausages (including dogs), and there aren't many around like him. That's just the kind of unique experience -- based on quality and interest -- I seek out when I'm chowhounding-around, along with the "typical" regional specialties more firmly rooted in place.

                                                  1. re: abf005

                                                    One has to notice that you were the one to mention "Chicago hot dog" as three words together, not the OP. Since Hot Doug's is a strictly Chicago experience, that cannot be had anywhere else outside of Chicago, it probably belongs on the list even MORE than the most "authentic Chicago style stand-type dog that you can't get anywhere else because nobody else has celery-salt as a condiment." Since you COULD get celery salt in another city, bit you certainly couldn't get Hot Doug's! BTW, Hot Doug's IS a Chicago cultural icon and should NEVER be mentioned in the same breath as California Pizza Kitchen.

                                              2. 1. Superdawg. Great atmosphere, excellent dogs, awesome burgers too.
                                                2. Hot Doug's. For an awesome "gourmet dog" experience. You don't go here for the Chicago-style dog though. Do one of the crazy game sausages and be sure to get the duck fat frites on Fri/Sat.
                                                3.Clark Street Dog. I love this place. It's a total hole in the wall in the middle of Lakeview, but they're open till like 4am every night, they do perfectly crisp corn dogs, and their Chicago dogs are perfect.

                                                Call me a heretic, but I'm not a big fan of Gene & Jude's...

                                                1. 1) Gene & Judes
                                                  2) Wieners Circle
                                                  3) Super Dawg
                                                  4) Portillo's

                                                  I am not a fan of Hot Doug's at all.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                                    Not Jansen's on 99th and Western?

                                                    1. re: marilyn9

                                                      I have never been, is Jansen's a worthwhile stop?

                                                      I have to be true to my South Side, Bridgeport roots, and include to my top 5:

                                                      Morrie Omalleys
                                                      3501 S. Union
                                                      Chicago, IL.

                                                      I often enjoy a grilled hot dog on my way into a Sox game.

                                                  2. I can only recommend HOT DOUG'S as it's the only place I go. On Fridays & Saturdays they offer French fries cooked in duck fat. (They are closed until Monday 5 March for a holiday.) Their specials are on their website. It's terrific!

                                                    1. I think Hot Doug's shouldn't be considered in this poll-That place is sui generis--It's going to trump any Chicago torpedo palace just on general principle..

                                                      That said--I'll make an odd suggestion. I Can't go to SAM'S CLUB without getting one of their giant Dogs or Polishes--even plain they hit the spot. and CHEAP!

                                                      1. Made a second visit to SuperDawg. Doesn't make my top 3. The place has plenty of character and is very unique but that doesn't help the hot dog, only the experience. The dog itself is juicy and flavorful. The bun however was wet and mushy on all 5 dawgs in the order. Not good. The fries? O.K. but would take the fresh cut, Gene & Jude style any day. Do I need 5-6 sport peppers? No. Do I need a wedge of green tomato? No. Go for the experience, but you can find a better hot dog at most of the other places.
                                                        1. Gene & Judes
                                                        2. Any Portillos
                                                        3. Bubby's (in Elk Grove)

                                                        1. If you are ever in the south suburbs go to Aristons at Kedzie and 183rd. My friends and I have tried just about every dog in the area and always come to the conclusion this is the best. Maybe not as good as some others you all have mentioned, haven't tried them all, but outstanding.

                                                          1. Aristons is at 175th and Kedzie, my bad. Also the gyros are great, just an FYI

                                                            1. Hot Diggity Dogs on Ohio 2 blocks east of Michigan....the best corn dog i ever had!

                                                              1. what makes the corn dog so good?

                                                                1. All this dog talk is making me hungry! Any dogs worth walking in the Wheeling area?

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: gargantua

                                                                    in wheeling I would pass by a place called the DOG DEN on Dundee and Elmhurst. Not sure if it's any good though.

                                                                    1. re: gargantua

                                                                      In Northbrook there is Little Louie's. top chicago dog and fries. northbrook is just east of Wheeling.

                                                                    2. 1. WOLFIES is by far the best dog stand in Chicago. Both the dogs and fries are Chicago's best and made just right. I know of places that compare when it comes to fries. When it comes to hot dogs though, nobody does it better.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Master of Cheese

                                                                        see, i would thing the opoposite would be true. 90% of all stands use the same brand of hotdogs so how didfferent could they be really? Fries are different since most places go frozen instead of the fresh cut.

                                                                      2. Super dog has been a chicago historic landmark for years and is in 10,000 places to see before you die. The dogs are good, but the atmosphere is even better.

                                                                        For the novalty of it, blackies has a 1/2 pound dog that is quite good.

                                                                        Poochies which is in skokie was named one of the best dogs in the US by gormet magaine a couple of years back.

                                                                        All three are good, and all three are different.


                                                                        1. 1. 35th Street Red Hots (2 Blocks west of US Comiscullar Field. Same as G & J...better fries at 35th St.)
                                                                          2. Gene & Judes ( Same as 35th St...not as close to the Park)
                                                                          3. Hot Dougs (Great fun from a CIA grad.)

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: frustrated

                                                                            ok so this reply is way late for your purpose but i gotta add my two cents.

                                                                            1. Ugly's hot dogs in chicagos western suburbs cuz they put the most authentic chicago style ingredients (mustard, neon green relish, onions, tomato, pickle spear, sport pepper and celery salt) on their all beef dogs & they come with fries cut from real potatoes, awesome old hot dog stand type building, amusing character taking the orders and the no ketchup rule is alive and well there because you can't pay them to put it on your dog.
                                                                            2. Superdawg cuz their dogs are pretty big, have a distinct flavor, they come with that awesome green pickled tomato and the drive-in theme takes me back to the 50's.
                                                                            3. Genes & Judes in River Grove cuz their fries r made from real potatoes, its fast and cheap!

                                                                          2. I know it's a chain but I just LOVE Portillo's. Oh and Gold Coast Dogs is pretty darn good too....

                                                                            1. Byron's hot dogs, but the Irving Park location, But I usually go polish or triple cheese. There's a very small place on Asbury Ave and Howard st in Evanston called Bill's that has been around at least since my mom was in high school. Whenever she visits she has to go there. NOt sure if they finally put in a frier or not, but has only served bags of chips. And I also like the cahin store Portillo's, but I usually have their chili dog and not a straight hotdog

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: UncleVinty

                                                                                I'm a fan of Poochie's in Skokie. A char cheddar Polish with well done grilled onions and cheddar fries gets my tail wagging.

                                                                              2. thank you all for helping to plump up my Chicago Hot Dogs map

                                                                                Currently have the following and credit this thread:

                                                                                Byron's Hot Dog Haus
                                                                                Clark Street Dog
                                                                                Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots
                                                                                Hot Doug's
                                                                                Jimmy's Red Hots
                                                                                Jim's Original Hot Dog
                                                                                Poochie's Hot Dogs
                                                                                Portillo's Hot Dogs
                                                                                Skyway Dog House
                                                                                Superdawg Drive-In
                                                                                Wiener Circle

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: FrugalDanny

                                                                                  Wiener Circle was recently shut down by the Health Department, but has since re-opened ;)

                                                                                  1. re: jesteinf

                                                                                    3rd try - thanks for the info! (:-D)

                                                                                2. Finally went to Hot Doug's yesterday with my wife. Amazing. Truly. We ordered a bunch (I skipped breakfast and ended up having a bowl of cereal for dinner to justify the amount).

                                                                                  One regular dog
                                                                                  One corn dog
                                                                                  One Paul Kelly (bratwurst)
                                                                                  One Foie Gras dog
                                                                                  One Alligator dog

                                                                                  it was my first experience with foie gras but it won't be my last. I wasn't insane about the duck sausage itself - there was a taste to it that I could not for the life of me pin down. It was good, but I don't know if I'd order it again.

                                                                                  The alligator dog is incredible. rich and spicy.

                                                                                  the regular dog is impeccable. my wife ordered the corndog and the bratwurst and I only sampled the brat. best I've ever had. flavorful..more so than I even expected.

                                                                                  the best was the duck fat fries ... never thought I'd ever try Hot Doug's, been meaning to for years and it finally took seeing it on Bourdain's show for me to make sure I did. Even waiting for an hour - and - a -half was worth it. Fantastic place.

                                                                                  1. In the northern suburbs, Dear Frank's still reigns supreme, and their cheese fries are incomparable. I'm veggie now, but if there's one thing I miss, it's a Chicago style hot dog. If there's two things I miss, the second is Gulliver's buffalo wings.

                                                                                    1. Where could I find the best Chili Dogs? Im visiting in May just trying to get an idea of food options Thanks.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: DottieRose

                                                                                        Here's the thing: Chicago is not known for chili dogs. It's known for Chicago dogs. Though it's not impossible to find a chili dog (someone on this thread mentioned Portillo's as having them) it's just not the norm.

                                                                                      2. Portillos does a very good chili cheese dog. natural casing vienna, all beef chili, cheddar on top.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: biga290

                                                                                          Are there any good Chicago dog places near the Palmer House Hilton? We are there this weekend for a conference and I need hot dogs after the NCAA tournament games. I guess that also means are there any late night places nearby?

                                                                                          1. re: chefsalad

                                                                                            forget the dog. Go to Ricobene's. they have a location downtown. have the Breaded Italian Steak sandwich. Only one in the USA. With red sauce, provolone, sweet peppers...get the big one. French Fries. You will thank me...or on west Ontario is Big Al's Italian Beef. You can get a great sausage there too. The italian beef with sweet peppers and dunked. do it... another place that will deliver and is a one of a kind: Perry's on Franklin. NY deli type sandwiches. There is a Gold Coast Dogs in Union Station.

                                                                                            1. re: chefsalad

                                                                                              You don't mention your transportation options. For late night dog-type places if you can get to Jim's Original (mentioned above) you can get a hot dog but, more importantly, you can get the quintessential Chicago Maxwell St Polish Sausage and the Maxwell Pork Chop Sandwich (Bone-in!!! You've been warned). Seriously, grab a Polish and a pork chop (fries included with all sandwiches) for the still very affordable prices - $3.25 for the Polish and $3.55 for the pork chop (again, fries included with each). Jim's is open 24/7 and is True Chicago.
                                                                                              1250 S Union Ave - just west of the Dan Ryan (I-90/94) and just south of Roosevelt Rd.

                                                                                              Edited to add - no disrespect to burgermaven but, imo, Ricobene's stopped being edible years ago. While once upon a time their breaded steak sandwiches were appealing these days they are more like breaded carpet samples. Had they not closed I would have directed a would-be Italian breaded steak devotee to the late and pretty great La Milanesa but since they've gone I don't have a go-to place anymore.

                                                                                              And to chefsalad, enjoy the tournament and your stay!

                                                                                              1. re: chefsalad

                                                                                                i believe there is a gold coast dogs location within walking distance of the palmer house. gold coast does a very nice natural casing chicago style dog.

                                                                                            2. 1. GENE & JUDES ( BEST HOT DOGS ON THE PLANET )

                                                                                              2. JIMMY'S RED HOTS

                                                                                              3. PORTILLOS

                                                                                              1. 1) HAPPY HUT hot dogs, West Roosevelt Road, West Chicago (honest, good, traditional...not fancy or pricy...and it's a TINY little place easily overlooked)

                                                                                                2) Superdawg: Nice and totally NEON Green Relish!

                                                                                                3) long closed: Red Rooster in Geneva, IL. Used to be on State Street (aka Roosevelt Road for those from the city) It was a greasy spoon place but always served those amazing natural casing dogs that snapped when you bit into them.
                                                                                                WOW I miss them!

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: JustWildAboutChicago

                                                                                                  I ate at Superdawg for the first time a few months ago. I was disappointed that they served a skinless dog, which is cheaper, and that the buns got too moist from being in the box with the fries and fell apart after the first bite. IMHO a classic chicago style must start with a natural casing dog. I loved the throwback decor howerver.

                                                                                                2. 1. Gene & Jude's
                                                                                                  2. Wieners Circle
                                                                                                  3. Poochies

                                                                                                  Honorable Mention: Hot Dougs, Fredhots & Fries, Gold Coast Dogs

                                                                                                  1. 1. Hot Doug's
                                                                                                    2. Pootchie's
                                                                                                    3. Portillo's/Gold Coast

                                                                                                    1. Not that this will satisfy the original question, but offered as a response for current/future readers:

                                                                                                      1. Gene & Jude, for a minimalist hot dog (not considered a classic Chicago Dog, however).

                                                                                                      2. Byron's, the location at Irving Park Rd. and Sheridan Road, in the city.

                                                                                                      I don't think I have a third, there are so many comparable dogs in town. Portillo's does a nice job with what they sell . . . but it's such a busy and often touristy location or locations. I don't suggest Hot Doug's to friends, or anyone else. Over-priced, over-hyped . . . mobs of people not knowing what they're oprdering or eating. ;-)

                                                                                                      1. The North Side joints get all the press! Better than half the city is south of Madison, ya know. Some of the best food in town is down there, if you know where to look. To wit, Giordano's, Home Run Inn, Dove Chocolate, Lindy's Chili, Gertie's Ice Cream all got there starts there.

                                                                                                        On the South Side, my vote is for Nicky's Hot Dogs. I grew up near the Archer-Austin shop, but they have locations elsewhere (103rd&Western, 63rd&Archer, 47th&Pulaski, 47th&Kedzie). The hot dogs and Polish are great, but also check out the "Big Baby" burger and the breaded rib eye sandwich with marinara.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: MikeB3542

                                                                                                          1.jene and judes
                                                                                                          2.Weiners circle
                                                                                                          3. paradise pup(char broiled)
                                                                                                          Mike Farmer, river Grove

                                                                                                          1. re: mfarmer142

                                                                                                            Is the neon green relish becoming more scarce at places ? I consider it part of the "uniqueness" of a chicago dog . Seeing all the people mention Portillos confuses me. Everytime I've eaten there , the dogs had no "snap" and there was plain old relish served. I always thought of it as a place for tourists. I'm not a Chicago resident , but have visited multiple times and never was a big fan of the dogs or beefs there.

                                                                                                            1. re: moose734

                                                                                                              I had a Portillo hot dog (Clark St. River North location) at lunch today - it was very good, comparable to the best I've eaten in the city over a span of about 50-years. The dogs have the natural casing - giving it the "snap" - aren't over-cooked (a problem at places without much volume) and the bun was warm and slightly moist from the steam. I don't recall if the relish was "neon" green, but it tasted good, as did the sport peppers.

                                                                                                        2. To jump on the bandwagon, I concur completely that Hot Doug's is the best hot dog in Chicago, and perhaps in the world. Further, it's really important that it's Vienna beef, don't accept anything else! Since most places use that brand, you're a good bet to get a good dog at many places, but a few do better preparation and have fresher ingredients than others.

                                                                                                          Here's my top 3:

                                                                                                          Hot Doug's
                                                                                                          Cooker's (in Northbrook)

                                                                                                          1. wiener circle. skip portillo;s.....

                                                                                                            1. Ok for those who said Superdawg is the best u might want to check and make sure thats not crack u were smoking before u ate there. If paying 3 times the price for a dog thats all smashed down in a box with mediocre fries over it, and waiting in a very crowded inconvenient space is your deal then this is the place for you.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: fooddude1000

                                                                                                                Your car is a "crowded inconvenient space"?

                                                                                                              2. No i meant if you order at the window you have to wait in line in a very crowded space and the whole ordering system they have is ridiculous. But besides all that why pay 4.95 for a smashed down hot dog with mediocre to lousy fries, when you can go to Gene and Judes and pay 1.95. There are a lot of good hot dogs in Chicago but if you want the best travel west over 2000 miles to Hollywood, CA and go to a lil place called Pinks!

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: fooddude1000

                                                                                                                  You've got to be kidding? I have been to Pinks in Hollywood numerous times. I'm from Chicago and have eaten my fair share of Chicago hot dogs. Chicago > Pinks.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Illuminatus

                                                                                                                    Yeah, I never understood the fascination of Pinks.

                                                                                                                2. Hot Doug's is on vacation right when I am to make my first visit to Chicago. Sounds like that is the place to go for not normal dogs and awesome fries. Not knowing where anything is, since I've never been there, which of these fine places mentioned in this thread are closest to public transportation and nearest to the city center downtown hotel area (I don't have a hotel yet)?

                                                                                                                  1. Buffalo Joe's in downtown Evanston, IL is a nice place to eat. You can have your hot dog grilled over charcoal with any topping that you want. Also, the freedom fries are fresh. A nice glass of dark beer is nice.
                                                                                                                    You can also watch sports on a large screen tv while devouring your hot dog. It's a nice friendly place.

                                                                                                                    Buffalo Joe's
                                                                                                                    812 Clark St Fl Lowr, Evanston, IL 60201

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: albierte

                                                                                                                      Nice artwork at Buffalo Joe's too. Humor is the theme.

                                                                                                                    2. 1. Hot Doug's - not really a classic dog, but great specialty dogs
                                                                                                                      2. Weiner's Circle - char dog ftw.
                                                                                                                      3. Parky's in Forest Park- a non-Vienna dog that actually has a better flavor to the actual dog. Beautiful old wedge-shaped dog stand.

                                                                                                                      Hot Doug's
                                                                                                                      3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: nightsweat

                                                                                                                        Another vote for Parky's -- when I lived in OPRF, my roommate worked at the video shop next door and the hot dog and fries were a serious guilty pleasure!

                                                                                                                      2. I went to lane tech and i would go to hot dougs everyday.....but hot dougs didnt have the unique vienna taste.........the best hot dog places in chicago are GENE AND JUDES AND JIMMYS by a large margin.......supedawg is not that good they just have the cool style of restaurant and all their food is overpriced

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: tvak1

                                                                                                                          As a student of all things Chicago and especially tubular meat products, I schlepped out to Gene's and Jude's beacuse my wife showed me the Rachel Ray piece naming them the "best hot dog in the nation". Despite the highly dubious source, after thirty years in Chicago I had to check it out. What a ghastly disappointment, Ordinary dirty water dogs, clearly no casing at all, natural or otherwise, soggy bun, cold greasy fries (hand cut is nice but clearly not a guarantee of palatability). I will give them some points for ambience although "unchanged" since the 1960's is not the same benefit as "unwashed" since the 1960's.

                                                                                                                          Although I am a big fan of Hot Doug's I sympathize with the purists who say it is not a "real" Chicago dog stand. But the ugly truth is that "real" Chicago dog stands all sell the same Vienna Beef (or other standardized) product which you can buy in any grocery store. The distinctions, if any, have to be in attention to detail, ambience, buns, etc. and too often these are just awful.

                                                                                                                          Hot Doug's
                                                                                                                          3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                                                                                                                          Vienna Beef
                                                                                                                          2501 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL

                                                                                                                          1. re: gargantua

                                                                                                                            I don't think you can get the natural casing Vienna's in any store. From what I've heard you have to get them from a distributor. Gene & Jude's claims to use natural casing franks.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hotdoglover

                                                                                                                              Food service, natural casing Vienna Beef hot dogs are available to the public at the Vienna Beef Factory Store. They can be purchased in a ten pound case, by the pound, or by the piece.

                                                                                                                              Vienna Beef
                                                                                                                              2501 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL

                                                                                                                            2. re: gargantua

                                                                                                                              Gene and Jude's serves a natural casing Vienna Beef "food service" hot dog.

                                                                                                                          2. SuperDawg (it has been on TV many times and is really good).
                                                                                                                            Portillos has a good chicago style hotdog.

                                                                                                                              1. 1)SuperDawg

                                                                                                                                2)Any of the 1,000 places that serve the same vienna beef hot dog. I just don't get the overabundant G&J love. I have been eating there for years (as I have many other vienna hot dog stands) and if we are just talking the dog only it is the same as many other places. Now the fries set it apart but are we talking the hot dog or the fries here?

                                                                                                                                3) portillos

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Chefcon

                                                                                                                                  The hot dogs were very good, but on my first visit to Gene's & Jude's a few weeks ago their fries were a greasy, sloppy mess. Plus, some of them weren't even thoroughly cooked and were still a bit raw on the inside. I couldn't believe that what I got were the infamous fries that people sometimes rave about. In my opinion, their fries were nothing special at all and I can think of 20 other places with better fries that won't upset your stomach.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Roast Chicken

                                                                                                                                    Well, that could be. Using real spuds, if the oil isn't up to temperature when they're put in, they'll soak up grease like a sponge.

                                                                                                                                    But back in the day, i still remember when you *expected* the fries at some places to make your paper bag translucent from grease. Sammy's on Division near LaSalle (?) was notorious for this, and i had a friend whose old Plymouth Barracuda was protected not by a coating of wax, but by the grease stains from all the bags of Sammy's fries we ate off the hood of his car.

                                                                                                                                2. I've always thought Teddy's Red Hots in Downers Grove and Darien was pretty darn good. Their Vienna dogs are 7 inches long and the toppings are consistently fresh. No overripe, runny tomatoes or limp pickle spears on their dogs - their stuff is solid.

                                                                                                                                  Teddy's Red Hots
                                                                                                                                  737 Plainfield Rd Ste 2, Darien, IL 60561

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Roast Chicken

                                                                                                                                    The cradle of hot dog civilization for western suburban youth in the 50's and 60's was Parky's and it remains the standard by which other stands should be judged for authenticism. Fries are still oiling up the paper bags and dogs as good as any. Should also give historical props to the now defunct state-wide chain "Dog N Suds", if only for the name.

                                                                                                                                    Parky's Hot Dogs
                                                                                                                                    329 Harlem Ave, Forest Park, IL 60130

                                                                                                                                  2. My regulars:
                                                                                                                                    Jimmy's Red Hots

                                                                                                                                    But clearly I need to do some exploring the next time the wife is out of town. To go along with the appetizing descriptions you may want to to check out


                                                                                                                                    for some mouthwatering visuals.

                                                                                                                                    Jimmy's Red Hots
                                                                                                                                    4000 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60651

                                                                                                                                    1. herms palace skokie
                                                                                                                                      poochies skokie
                                                                                                                                      superdawg wheeling

                                                                                                                                      1. Ok, someone 'splain this to me. I'm a Chicagoan born and bred. Lived here most of my life. And I love a good hot dog. I will admit that if it's not Kosher-style I'm not interested (love the garlic; prefer all-beef). Give it to me grilled, not steamed, but if I'm in a hurry steamed will do. And whatever you do, don't put ketchup on it.

                                                                                                                                        But after those criteria - which AFAIK applies about every hot dog joint in the city - what is it that for you that makes a "top dog" as opposed to an ordinary dog?

                                                                                                                                        There are places I am more familiar with than others. The ones I grew up around or learned to frequent. The suppliers are pretty much the same. So there must be something I am missing. What is it?

                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: chicgail


                                                                                                                                          I guarantee you that once you try a garlic polish from Romanian Kosher Sausage Company located at the corner of Touhy & Clark Aves in Chicago that you'll never eat anyone else's dogs. It's my favorite by far, but then again, I only eat kosher.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: KA2CSH

                                                                                                                                            I have served that very dog to many non-kosher friends who sings its praises as one the best dogs they have eaten

                                                                                                                                          2. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                            For me, all kosher dogs are not the same, and I never get mine grilled. I want to taste dog, not char. Charring is for Oscar Meyer.
                                                                                                                                            Get one plain. Does the dog 'pop' when you bite into it? Does it run with savory doggy juices? Is the bun in that ideal state where it offers a bland but luxurious cushion on which to showcase each bite? Together, are they the right temperature to melt onto your tongue?
                                                                                                                                            Your plain dog is your ground zero of quality. If you wouldn't eat one of their dogs plain, then move on.
                                                                                                                                            Now the condiments: Onions fresh and not skunky? Mustard sparkly and bright? Relish (not a favorite) clean and not too cloyingly sweet? Peppers and pickle fresh and aggressive?
                                                                                                                                            I'm a purist. Anything more than OMRP&P is overkill. They're trying to hide something, and it probably isn't good.
                                                                                                                                            Finally, fried should accompany it and they should be from real potatoes and fresh, and wrapped with the dog in that traditional tissue. Something magical happens when dog meets fries in that confined space. A melding, a mellowing. And if some fries adhere to the dog when you eat it, so much the better.
                                                                                                                                            It's very hard to find places that still wrap the fries with the dog "old school", but they're worth seeking out. Gene & Jude's comes to mind, and Poochie's will make them that way if you ask.

                                                                                                                                          3. FUHGEDABOUDIT Roadside Kitchen has the best Chicago Hot Dog I call em Roadside Dogs cause when I buy a dog there they are Roadside Dogs & when I buy an Italian beef they are Roadside beef. They are up in Northbrook Il. and are my 1st choice followed by Gene & Judes & Portillo's

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigAlChicago

                                                                                                                                              I'm going to have to try this place out. I like your #2 and #3 and especially with your omission of Hot Doug's and Superdawg since I think both those places are highly overrated.

                                                                                                                                            2. Gene and Judes in DesPlaines