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Chicago Pizza & Hot Dogs - specific questions

We will be arriving at Midway on May 9 and I have a couple questions. I have searched, printed, read, highlighted and compared the previous posts regarding Chicago pizza. Now, I believe that I have narrowed it down to Gino’s East for deep-dish pizza. I have a couple of questions. Obviously, it will take a while for the pizza to arrive – not a problem. My question is: is there usually a wait to get seated as well? I was thinking of maybe arriving around 5-ish on a Wednesday. Is this a good time to go? Do they close between lunch and dinner or are they open the whole day? Also, I understand that sausage is the topping to get – what else should we order on the pizza? I have heard that we should order some apps to tide us over – what would you recommend?
Now for Chicago dogs. I plan on going to Superdawg for a Chicago dog (do all Chicago dogs come with the neon green relish?). It was featured on “A Hot Dog Show” on PBS out here in L.A. and I really liked their story. Also, is it possible to purchase the green relish? How about the sport peppers? I would like to get a Chicago dog elsewhere – what would you recommend? I heard mention of a stand that does very good Chicago dogs, but cannot remember the name. I also just saw Hot Doug’s featured on the Gourmet Magazine show that is now on PBS and they said that they were not going to be able to offer anything made with Fois Gras any longer since the ban is going into effect. I do not think that I am interested in the gourmet dogs he offers – just plain, normal Chicago dogs.
We will have a rental car, so location is not really a problem. We have not determined exactly where we will stay for the first night (the next day we will be leaving for the drive to Wisconsin to see my brother). Any suggestions for something centrally located? Maybe someplace with a decent breakfast place nearby? We plan on taking a boat trip out into the lake – I did a sunset one last time I was there and the Chicago skyline is gorgeous!
Thank you for your assistance!

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  1. Here are a few answers - I can't help that much. :)

    First, welcome to Chicago!

    Gino's East - I don't know about a wait on a Wednesday at 5:00 - I've only ever eaten there on a weekend, and the wait was aboutt 45 minutes - and it's been years since I've been there.

    Chicago Dogs - if you can't get the sport peppers or relish at Superdawg (you can call them and ask - 773/478-7800) you can get them directly from Vienna. You'll find them at http://www.viennabeef.com/.

    Other hot dog stand - could it have been Fluky's (http://www.flukys.com/) - they have the relish and sport peppers too. Or maybe Portillo's?

    Finally, can't help you with a hotel - I live in the suburbs so I've never had a need for one. :


    Hope you enjoy your stay!!!

    1. > Obviously, it will take a while for the pizza to arrive – not a problem.

      If you like, you can order ahead so that it is coming out of the oven shortly after you get there. You'll find the Gino's East menu and location addresses and phone numbers on their website at www.ginoseast.com

      > My question is: is there usually a wait to get seated as well?
      > I was thinking of maybe arriving around 5-ish on a Wednesday.
      > Is this a good time to go?

      Waits can vary. It depends partly on the location, too. The locations near downtown are more likely to be busy around 5 because many people work in the vicinity. But I wouldn't expect too long a wait to be seated at that hour.

      > Do they close between lunch and dinner or are they open the whole day?

      You can find hours for each of Gino's East's 11 locations in the area in their listings on Metromix:

      > Also, I understand that sausage is the topping to get – what else
      > should we order on the pizza?

      Available ingredients are the typical pizza toppings you find anywhere - mushrooms, onions, pepperoni, sausage, green peppers - as well as some more unusual ones. The one ingredient that is fairly common in Chicago but not typically found elsewhere is spinach. But get whatever sounds good to you. No particular ingredient is a "must have" (or a "faux pas").

      >> We will have a rental car, so location is not really a problem. We have not determined exactly where we will stay for the first night (the next day we will be leaving for the drive to Wisconsin to see my brother). Any suggestions for something centrally located? <<

      I know the Chowhound Team frowns on non-food related advice. Basically, most of the hotels are either (a) in the downtown area (including the Loop, Magnificent Mile/Gold Coast, River North/Streeterville), any of which are centrally located, or (b) in the suburbs, which are often less expensive.

      > Maybe someplace with a decent breakfast place nearby?

      For brunch and breakfast suggestions:

      3 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thank you both! I truly appreciate your assistance. If you ever come to L.A., I would be happy to reciprocate!! One more question - which Gino's is the one I have to go to?

        1. re: WildSwede

          All the Gino's East locations are basically the same.

          If you've reviewed the pizza topics already, then you're presumably decided on the single-crust pan pizza of Gino's East rather than the double-crust stuffed pizza of Giordano's. If so, Lou Malnati's is another good version. I'm not trying to get into another "which pizza is best" argument, only noting that Lou's is very similar to Gino's, in case Lou's is more conveniently located for you.

          If you have a particular location that you're coming from (like a hotel), we can tell you which Gino's (or Lou's) is closest.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Haha! What? Plan WHERE we are staying before defining WHAT and WHERE we will be eating? Honestly! ;-) J/K.
            We have not even begun to think about where we are staying yet. First we have to determine what we are going to do and see if we will need to stay in Chicago or drive a little out of the city. I am thinking of going to the Cubs game (have to get to Wrigley Field) if I can cajole my mom into going.

      2. I always stay at the Homewood Suites Downtown. It is nice and close to everything. www.homewoodsuiteschicago.com

        1. I can reply regarding some hot dog spots:

          There is a thread asking Chicago folks about the "top 3 dog stands in Chicago" here on Chowhound.

          I would skip Hot Dougs, and hit some of the more traditional spots, Wieners Circle, Gene & Judes, Super Dawg, and if you are downtown the Portillos.

          Also in my humble opinion the MLB baseball on the S.Side is better, ; )
          and there is a good hot dog stand @ 35th and Union just blocks from Sox Park(where the 2005 World Champs play).

          You also have to try an Italian Beef sandwich when you are in town, in my opinion the Italian Beef & Chicago Style Hot Dog are more "Chicago" than pizza.

          Enjoy your visit to our great city.

          5 Replies
          1. re: swsidejim

            Defintely hit an Italian beef while in town. Go to Al's on Taylor and then after you gorge on that, go across the street for an Italian ice from Mario's and you are in a Chicago food definition of bliss.

            1. re: swsidejim

              I couldn't agree with you more, esp. about MLB on the southside!

              IMO Gino's East pizza is terrible, I'm ashamed when people come to Chicago and go there or to one of those horrifying Uno's places and think they are getting Chicago pizza. Malnati's is good (if inconsistent) and it still tastes like what I remember Chicago deep dish being like when I was a kid.

              And, lbs is right, Al's on Taylor (the ONLY Al's worth going to IMHO) with an Italian ice from Mario's afterward on a hot summer day before a Sox game is Chicago bliss.

              1. re: chigirl71

                Okay, so, should we go to Malnati's instead? What about the Pizzeria Oro that is mentioned below? We just want whatever would be the most authentic specimen of a Chicago deep dish pizza.

                1. re: WildSwede

                  There are two styles of Chicago deep dish pizza. One is the single-crust, pan pizza of Gino's East and Lou Malnati's. The other is the double-crust, "stuffed" pizza of Giordano's, Bacino's, and Edwardo's. Both styles are "authentic".

                  I am amused whenever someone claims that Gino's East is so much better than Malnati's, or Malnati's is so much better than Gino's East, because THEY ARE BASICALLY THE SAME PIZZA. Yes, Gino's crust is yellower, and there are other minor details, but 99 percent of people who like one, will like the other. It's like claiming you love Diet Pepsi and hate Diet Coke (or vice versa). The same is true when choosing among Giordano's, Bacino's, or Edwardo's for stuffed pizza; those, too, are very very similar to each other.

                  So, to answer your question, you can go to Malnati's OR Gino's East (for pan pizza), or Giordano's or Bacino's or Edwardo's (for stuffed pizza). Any one of these will provide an authentic specimen of a Chicago deep dish pizza. And they're all delicious. (My personal favorite is Giordano's, but I like all of them.)

                  All of these chains have many locations in the city and suburbs, listed on their websites:


                  1. re: WildSwede

                    Yes, given a choice between the 2 I would pick Malnati's over Gino's East for deep dish pizza. I haven't tried Pizzeria D'oro so I don't know. Malnati's, IMO, is more authentic and just better pizza.

              2. I like the Sox but you must go to a Cubs game. Everyone I have ever taken falls in love with Wrigley Field and the neighborhood. Uniquely Chicago and a big part of summer. You can stay in Lincoln Park cheaper then downtown, Hawthorne Terrace on Broadway is nice or Days Inn Lincoln Park North on Clark/Divirsey, they just renovated the place. Then jump in a cab or take the Red line to Wrigley or downtown. Also these places are two blocks from the lake, beaches and a ton of fun bars and restaruants. Also you will be around the corner from the famous Wiener Circle.
                I love Hot Doug's, they have really good traditional dogs but also so many other kinds. It is a unique Chicago treat and off the tourist map. The other places mentioned are good choices. Have fun, summer in Chicago is the best.

                1. I'm not from Chicago, but my wife and I wax rhapsodic about Pizzeria Oro. I have no idea where it is, but their sauce is tangy, the crust exceptional and the whole pie a must have whenever we are in town.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ccbweb

                    I've never heard of Pizzeria Oro. More info please?

                    1. re: ccbweb

                      I'm guessing you mean Pizza D'Oro in Norwood Park?

                      It's on NW Hwy, a few blocks south of Devon.

                      1. re: emsquared

                        That's exactly what I mean. Sorry about the total lack of information, normally I wouldn't post on a thread on which I know so little, but I've been in love with their pizza for years. I only had it as takeout when i would visit a friend in town, but it was the must order the first night in town every time.

                    2. A fun thing to do is visit the Vienna Beef Factory outlet. It is at Fullerton and Damen, the entrance is on Damen just north of Fullerton. There is a cafeteria that is mainly aimed at the factory workers, but very welcoming to outsiders, and a small store (a couple of cases) selling Vienna Beef products, including the neon relish and usually the sport peppers (which you can also get at any big supermarket, stop at a Dominick's or Jewel's, and you should find these. The factory store also sells wonderful Vienna hot dog t-shirts and posters. There is a very fine one which is also used as a poster in lots of hot dog stands around the city showing a huge hot dog taking the place of Navy Pier, and fireboats squirting condiments and delivering toppings. These are sold very cheap! I bought my son a t-shirt and some condiments before he went off to college in Montreal, where there is a lot of good food, but no good hot dogs.

                      I second the recommendation for Italian beef sandwiches.

                      And for the Days Inn on Diversey.

                      1. The sausage thing is because Chicago is one of the few (maybe the only) cities where sausage is the preferred ingredient over pepperoni. We have a history with meat here, so maybe it's because we made such good sausage and didn't make so much pepperoni? Most places that do sausage on top do it crumbled on, it's not in slices, except for the one place that gives you a sausage patty that covers the entire top! (I think that's Lou Malnati's?) So it is a particularly Chicago thing to order, but not the only way to go if it's not your thing.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: leek

                          > The sausage thing is because Chicago is one of
                          > the few (maybe the only) cities where sausage is
                          > the preferred ingredient over pepperoni.

                          Sausage is generally more popular than pepperoni on most of the East Coast.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            In general, though, Pepperoni is preferred. According to a report in US News and World Report: the number one preferred topping in the US is pepperoni which adorns 36 percent of pizza orders. Second choice is Italian sausage, followed by extra cheese.

                            Domino's did a survey in 2004 of 1,500 U.S. adults - Pizzas topped with pepperoni were the No. 1 favorite with 63 percent of survey respondents, while 36 percent of respondents voted for sausage as their topping of choice.

                            I know I've read somewhere else the stat that the #1 topping in Chicago was sausage, vs. most of the rest of the country, though I can't put my hand on it now - I can find it (without a citation) at

                        2. Hi neighbor (I'm in OC),

                          I may be living in SoCal the last 20 years but Chicago is still home.

                          You've got some great replies here so far. Some comments:

                          1. Not sure what your budget is, but that may determine where you stay. If you can do it, try a downtown hotel with a view in a good location...Chicago is a fun city to look at! Priceline and others can find some great deals at times.

                          2. If you are downtown, or even in other areas, chuck the car (it's slow, driving is often painful,and parking is expensive and difficult at times). Chicagoans live on the rails and buses...public transit rules, especially in the city. Metra commuter rail from the susburbs and CTA "L"/subway trains and buses. The Red Line to Wrigley FIeld is the ONLY way to go!

                          3. Hot Dogs...Ok, so you DO want a car for Superdawg to get the carhop service. SD was the site of my parent's first date about 50 years ago and is still a favorite. Hey, I'm not a bug hot dog fan, but the food is all good at SD...burgers, fries, shakes, etc. Good food and a landmark as well.

                          4. Pizza...so much to choose from, but do NOT limit yourself to deep dish/stuffed crust. Gino's East is great, as are others. GIno's flagship location is on Ontario (formerly a Planet Hollywood), but they just opened up in a new building at their original location on Superior a few blocks south of Water Tower Place/Hancock Center, just off Michigan Avenue...easy to get to if downtown. Deep dish was arguably born at the original Pizzeria Uno (and Due) and they are very worthwhile as well. Giordano's is prob the best known of the stuffed crust pizzas and they are very good with lots of locations.The Chicago Tribune had a big 100+ place taste-off a few years ago and a small place N of downtown called The Art of Pizza was the overall winner.

                          80+ % of Chicago pizza is thin crust, and it is SO much better than most of what you find in SoCal. Not much downtown, but lots of suburban places are renowned for great thin crust...Home Run Inn (my pick), Rosati's, Aurelio's, Vito & Nick's, the list goes on and on.

                          Sausage is THE topping in Chicago...so much more flavorful than the "rabbit pellets" other places call sausage. IMHO, a pizza doesn't need anyhing else! Like another poster said, spinach is a popular topping/filling for deep dish/stuffed.

                          4. Other food. Italian Beef/Sausage is the biggie here. Best of the bunch is Johnnie's in westside Elmwood Park, Al's on Taylor (along with Mario's Italian Lemonade if open) is a great combination, Mr. Beef is convenient to downtown and has the celebrity notoriety, and Portillo's (downtown and lots of suburb locations) is a consistent, safe bet for italian beef, hot dogs, burgers and more (they have their only non-area location here in SoCal!).

                          Not sure what your time constraints are, but I'll throw one scenario out to you thatis special to me...take Metra BNSF out to Downers Grove Main Street...walk a block S to Giordano's for dinner, go take in a movie at the historic Tivoli Theater on the N side of the tracks, and then stop for ice cream at Every Day's a Sundae, a block away. If you are still hungry, grab a slice at Aurelio's next to the Tivoli or Al's next to the ice cream place. If you're thirsty, Emmet's Ale House or Ballydoyle Irish Pub are 2 blocks away. THe Tivoli is a huge single-screen theater that is a very special place. They show late-run movies (a month or two after release), have free refills on popcorn and soda (wow!), and even have an organist before shows on weekends. The ice cream place serves Sherman's Dairy ice cream, some of the best around.

                          Fortunately here in SoCal, there are some great places to get thin and deep dish pizza (Casa Bianca, Tony's Little Italy), and even italian beef and hot dogs (Chicago's Best, Portillo's and a few others), but there's nothing like the experience of being in Chicago.

                          Whew! That's a long one!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: RSMBob

                            good call on Johnnies for the Italian Beef sandwich. I also agree they are the best in the chicagoland area.

                            Re: Ballydoyles in D.G., go for a few pints of beer, and the great pub atmosphere, but I found the food to be below average.

                            1. re: swsidejim

                              Notice I said if you are THIRSTY go to Ballydoyle!

                              Anothr comment/correction...in addition to me not beinga BUG hot dog fan, I'm not a big hot dog fan, either, hahaha.

                              1. re: RSMBob

                                I totally agree re: "only if your thirsty", or want ot bend an elbow with some friends, Ballydoyle is great for that..

                                I had corned beef in there last week, and it so bland, and flavorless, like they forgot to put seasonings in when when they were cooking it. But then again I am a son of a s.side irishman, who loves his irish american staple of corned beef, so I can be picky... .

                                1. re: swsidejim

                                  Hmm, I bet you'll be eating well this weekend then!

                                  Ok, give it to me...how best to do the corned beef?

                                  1. re: RSMBob

                                    How I do it is:

                                    Rinse off ther red brine mixture the corned beef is packaged in, I then use the small spice packet that the beef is packed with, and rub it on the top, faty side of the beef, I also rub McCormick pickling spice on the fat side as well. I place the beef in a large pot, and put in 1 bottle of beer, and enough cold water to cover the meat with 1 inch of water, I place in the pot some garlic cloves, a chopped onion, and chopped celery. I bring to a boil, and then reduce heat ,cover, and simmer for 3 hours. For the cabbage, and red potatoes, I steam them seperately, I think if they are cooked in the pot with the beef they can get to greasy for my taste. When the meat is done I slice it thin, and I make sure to make enough for leftovers for Ruebens, and corned beef hash.

                          2. Hello all! Thank you so much for responding!! You are the best!! We have determined that we will be staying at the Days Inn in Lincoln Park East. Eat pizza at - still up in the air. Maybe somewhere close to the hotel. Hot Dogs at Superdawg and Demons. Cubs game on May 9. When my mom read about Mario's - she determined that we will also make a stop there. We will definitely take the Red Metro (whatever it is called) to Wrigley and walk around there before the game.
                            Okay another question - what should we eat in the stadium? Here in L.A. we can get all kinds of crap at Dodger's stadium - Gordon Biersch garlic fries, Carl's Jr (I believe yours is called something else - Hardy's?), Pizza Hut, probably sushi, some sort of sausage, but I always stick with the Dodger Dog that I remember from my youth, with some nachos thrown in every other time. Are there several types of sausages offered in the park, or only one type? I am so excited at the prospect of going to Wrigley field, I can barely contain myself!!
                            RSMBob, I was surprised to see you posting - even before I read it I was thinking that I knew you were out here on the L.A. board!! Also, Jim, my mom is going to use your recipe for the corned beef!! Nsxtasy - your info is invaluable. Thank you for keeping track of all those links!! If anyone can think of anything else we have to try, just let me know and if you ever come to L.A. feel free to post and we will definitely get back with you! THANK YOU!!!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: WildSwede

                              > Eat pizza at - still up in the air.

                              I'll tell you where the nearest good Chicago-style pizza places are, relative to your hotel. You'll see how the house numbers work when comparing addresses in a moment.

                              Chicago is laid out on a grid. Each change of 800 in house numbers is one mile in distance, east and west or north and south. The Days Inn in Lincoln Park is at 644 W Diversey at the corner of Diversey, Clark, and Broadway. Diversey is 2800 North, so your hotel is located at 2800 N and 644 W.

                              For single-crust "pan" pizza, the nearest Gino's East and the nearest Lou Malnati's are both about 3/4 mile from your hotel. Gino's East is at 2801 N Lincoln, at Lincoln and Diversey (now you can see why Diversey is 2800 N - it's the house number on the streets that cross it). Lincoln goes on a diagonal, and crosses Diversey at Racine, which is 1200 W. So that's about 3/4 mile straight west of your hotel on Diversey. The nearest Lou Malnati's is at 958 W. Wrightwood; Wrightwood is 2600 N. So that's 1/4 mile south of your hotel and about 3/8 mile west.

                              For good double-crust "stuffed" pizza, you could go to Edwardo's at 2662 N. Halsted; Halsted is 800 W. So that's about 1/8 mile south of Diversey and about 1/4 mile west of your hotel. That's closer than the nearest Bacino's at 2204 N. Lincoln (about 600 W, so it's about 3/4 mile south from your hotel), or the nearest Giordano's, at 1040 W. Belmont (Belmont is 3200 N, so from your hotel that's 1/2 mile west and 1/2 mile north).

                              > We will definitely take the Red Metro (whatever it is called) to
                              > Wrigley and walk around there before the game.

                              The trains are all called the "el" (elevated), even where portions go underground rather than elevated. If you want to take the el, your hotel is about half a mile east of the Diversey stop on the Brown Line. This stop is halfway between the Belmont and Fullerton stops on the Red Line. (Both el lines run together for this stretch.) Depending on where you're going, you may be better off taking a bus than the el, since lots of buses go up and down Clark St (past your hotel), Sheridan Road (a couple blocks east), and Halsted St (a couple blocks west).

                              The easiest way to get to Wrigley Field from your hotel is to take the #22 Clark Street bus, which goes right from one to the other. If you're going to walk 1/2 mile west to the el, you may as well instead walk up Clark Street a mile to Wrigley. For more transit information on els and buses, go to www.transitchicago.com (look at the map for the north side and you'll see why the bus makes more sense).

                              I'll let others comment on the food at Wrigley.

                              1. re: nsxtasy

                                Beautiful! Thank you for explaining everything. It will definitely make our lives easier! ;-)

                              2. re: WildSwede


                                If you are talking about Demon Dog's that was by the Fullerton El, it's been demolished. The food at Wrigley is hit or miss with more emphasis on the miss. Connies' Pizza is there but I would avoid it. The hot dogs at some of the kiosks on the ground can be very good! I usually stick to those. Yum. Remember to buy your peanuts outside of the park! Also, if you are looking for a good place to eat by your hotel, there is the Half Shell. They should have the patio set up in May. I know you are in Cal so seafood is not what you are looking for but this place is fun to sit and eat out on the patio. Get the crab legs. The little restaurant next to it has some mean martinis. That might be a nice option for later at night when you get back to your hotel. Literally go west, cross Clark and it's maybe 100 yards away. Also for the Cubs game, definitely take the Clark #22. You can catch it in front of the Borders (across from the Century Mall), Depending on traffic, you'll be on it for 10-15 mins. It will let you off at the corner of Addison and Clark. Pretty much under the Cubs Marquee. That way you can good look of the options on Clark street if you ae so inclined to some shopping or eating.

                                1. re: lbs

                                  Your trip sounds great so far. I've always found a tall boy of Old Style before or after the game at Murphy's Bleachers or Bernie's kitty corner to the stadium is as much a part of the Wrigley experience as Wayne Messmer singing the National Anthem or the seventh inning stretch. While at the park, there are several choices for sausage. There's the main stands that serve beer, hot dogs, pizza, cokes, and whatever else. I tend to avoid these guys as they can sell you everything but none of it is very good. Seek out the hot dog stands that stand alone and draw you in with the scent of grilled onion burning alongside their sausages. I've always found a dog "with"(grilled onions) is can't miss after drowning it in mustard. I think some of these stands serve polish sausage as well which has a much stonger flavor than the hot dogs they serve. You can't go wrong with either. I know Hebrew National has a couple of these stands and maybe Kosher's Best. Each brand serves delicious all-beef products.

                                  1. re: Big Willi

                                    Yes - make sure to ask when you get the hot dog if they make the grilled onions. I prefer Polish sausage or Brats to hot dogs, and there are a few stands that do those. I am pretty sure the ones that do Brats don't do the grilled onions, and yes - the stand alone ones definitely do. Plus you can get lawnmower beer, or there are a few stands that have better beer from local or local-ish (Leinenkugel) brewers.

                                    1. re: leek

                                      Great, thank you all for your recs. I have made the ressys for the hotel and bought the tix to the game. We are good to go! You are the best!! I love Chicagoans!!