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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
    http://www.hotdougs.com/

    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.

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            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
        Glenview
        847-657-9200

        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!!!!

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            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

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