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Real Chicago Pizza/Hot Dogs, where?

  • j
  • Jim Duffy Jun 5, 2004 12:28 PM
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New to Los Angeles from Chicago and I'm looking for some tastes of Chicago to keep me from being homesick.

I need real Chicago style pizza: crust, cheese, and red sauce on top. I see one more alleged Chicago style pizza with cheese on top, I will lose my mind.

I need real Chicago hot dogs: Vienna all beef with all the trimmings. It should be packed and one is a meal but you eat two because the first was so good.

Please, tell me where I can find these things in the LA area. I will be forever grateful.

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  1. I've yet to find real Chicago style stuffed pizza. You can always do mail order from Lou Malnati's or Giordanos! There is allegedly a place out there somewhere--maybe someone else will post about it.

    For hot dogs, I like QT Chicago Dogs with several Valley locations:
    Reseda and Parthenia
    Tampa and Victory
    Woodman and Moorpark

    There's also Taste of Chicago in Burbank, but I haven't tried it yet, so I can't say if it's any good or not.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Debbie J.

      Chicago friends swear by A Taste of Chicago - owned by Joe Mantegna and his wife. It seems pretty authentic, and they have pizza, hot dogs, beef sandwhiches and whatever else people miss. They're on Hollywood Way & Verdugo (a little north of the 134 FWY Pass Ave exit if you're coming from the West).

      1. re: Briggs

        Taste of Chicago has great hot dogs and sausages! Their pizza is worth skipping though. Save room for a second hog dog.

        1. re: Mike B
          s
          Steve Doggie-Dogg

          Skip the dogs too... They seem to be of the "export tourista" variety of Chicago dogs (Dogs labelled as "authentic Chicago"). The Italian Roast Beef sandwich at Taste Chicago is the thing to get there. It's Bozo approved.

          See ya
          Steve

          Link: http://www.hotdogspot.blogspot.com

          1. re: Mike B

            They recently introduced deep dish there. It used to be sicilian only and not very good. The new deep dish is great, though.

      2. I've seen two places in West LA that serve Vienna Beef hot dogs, but I don't know if they serve them Chicago style.

        The first place is Johnny's Pastrami on Sepulveda.
        Their pastrami is ok and overpriced. Never had the dog.

        The second place is a stand on Pico Blvd., somewhere between Sepulveda and Overland on the south side. This place looks promising since I saw a sign for "Combo." Could this possibly be THE combo? The uniquely Chicago heart attack sandwich of Italian beef and Italian sausage? They have a Vienna Beef sign also.

        If they don't serve it up Chicaga style, maybe you can buy the dogs and build your own. The poppy seed buns and neon relish might be hard to come by though.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joe MacBu

          The hot dogs at Johnny's were nicely chargrilled and all beef the last time I tried one a bunch of years ago

          1. re: Joe MacBu

            The place you're talking about on Pico is Marty's. It's just next to the Shell station at Prosser between Beverly Glen and Overland. They do not have Italian beef. They do serve Vienna Beef hot dogs and fairly good chili fries, but that's about it. Certainly not a place worth a special trip. The only Italian beef I know of is at Portillos (from Chicago) in Buena Park near Knotts Berry Farm. They don't have pizza - you might want to try Al Gelato on Robertson - it's not rue Chicago style, but maybe if you ask they'll make you an extra-thick crust version of their very delicious pizza.

          2. You can get Chicago-type hotdogs at Rubin's Red Hot, on the south side of Ventura Blvd. just east of the 405. How authentic they are I can't say--the little bldg. is an imitation El-station, but the hotdogs are spectacularly good. I have tried some of the others recommended from time to time on this board, but none have matched Rubin's red hots on their best days. The "Big Red" or some name to that effect, long Vienna dog, comes on a nice long oniony role, with bright green relish, cucumbers, hot peppers, tomatoes I think--wonderful.

            1. Just a bit farther down this page is a discussion of hot dogs, including Chicago style.

              Consensus is that QT dogs serves up the most authentic rendition. Rubin's is OK: they use the right relish, but it's served on an onion (not poppy seed) roll, and they use pepperocinis instead of sport peppers.

              The Chicago dog from the place on the reserved (blue) level at Dodger Stadium has all of the authentic toppings, but the dog itself leaves something to be desired (but is far superior to the inedible "Dodger Dog").

              As for pizza, good luck; although it has been my experience in Chicago that sauce isn't on top of the cheese, at least not at Pizzeria Due or Lou Malnati's.

              1. Thanks for the leads you guys. I am determined to find these necessities or else I will have to head back to Chicago to fortify myself more often than I would like.

                1. For Chicago style dogs, I like Rubin's Red Hot better than QT Chicago Dogs. Rubin's has changed ownership a few times over the years. While Rubin's isn't what it once was, I still like their dogs -- I usually go for the Polish Sausage Chicago style.

                  For Chicago style pizza, try Paoli's Pizzeria in Woodland Hills or Speakeasy Chicago Style Pizza in El Segundo. Unfortunately, I have not eaten at either place yet.

                  Paoli's Pizzeria was named by "Nine on the Town," a TV show on Channel 9, as having the best Chicago style pizza in LA. There have been a couple of pretty positive reviews of Paoli's on Chowhound.

                  Speakeasy Chicago Style Pizza received a positive review by the "Culinary Detective" which was published in "Rave" and "The Dailey Breeze." "Culinary Detective" also posts on Chowhound.

                  Paoli's Pizzeria
                  21020 Ventura Blvd. (by DeSoto)
                  Woodland Hills
                  (818) 883-4136

                  Speakeasy Chicago Style Pizza
                  150 S. Sepulveda (by El Segundo Blvd)
                  El Segundo
                  (310) 322-6068

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Norm

                    I've been to Paoli's. That ain't it.

                    Yes, their pie is good, but it ain't the real deal.

                    Good thing I'm moving back to Chicago soon!

                    1. re: Debbie J.

                      You're moving back? How I envy you so.

                      May your pizza and hot dogs always be Chicago style.

                      1. re: Debbie J.
                        c
                        culinary detective

                        Speakeasy is great, thick lots of cheese and the cookie pie is to die for!

                        Now dogs, are a different thing all together...I have not found a decent place in the South Bay yet for dogs..

                        Link: http://www.culinarydetective.com

                    2. Hi Jim,

                      Welcome to SoCal! You didn't say where you are in SoCal, so I'll just throw out some suggestions.

                      First of all, I'm not a hot dog expert, but QT's, Rubin's, Taste Chicago in Burbank are all good suggestions...I'll add Chicago Harv's in Fullerton to the mix.

                      As for pizza, "Chicago-style" can vary, but I assume you are talking about the Giordano's, Uno's/Due, Lou Malnatti's, Nancy's, Gino's East kinda deep dish/stuffed crust stuff. Yes it can be found, but most importantly, it is NOT at Numero Uno or BJ's Chicago Style pizza. There are 2 places I know of that are the real deal, one a ways from LA and the other a LONG ways from LA.

                      Tony's Little Italy is a very small primarily take-out place in Placentia (N Orange County NE of the 57/91 interchange). They have 2 or 3 small tables to eat at if you eat there. Chicago Pasta House is in Moreno Valley (off the 60 E of Riverside) and is a full service italian restaurant with superb thin crust and stuffed crust pizza. It is worth the drive...the owner, Dino, was one of the founders of the original Uno in Chicago but moved out to SoCal before it ever really took off back there.

                      E-Mail if you need more details.

                      1. Here's the thing. This is Los Angeles. It's not New York. It's not Chicago. It's not Philly. We do lots of things very well here. Try to enjoy those. When we try to replicate stuff from other American cities, it's never as good. So just get used to it. Right now, we seem to be trying to see how many Cuban restaurants we can support. Rather than trying to find Chicago stuff in LA, why not look for Cuban or other good stuff we are doing?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: mc michael

                          Well said.

                          1. re: mc michael

                            I agree. Sometimes it's not worth getting your heart broken over a hot dog.

                            I lived in Chicago for a few years, and I know a number of people from there who moved here. I've since had some interesting conversations with some of these people, often along the lines of "There's no good food in Los Angeles." Besides being ridiculous, it's really an unfair statement, since after some questioning I generally find that the people saying it only seek out Chicago-style food. And, since this isn't Chicago, they're disappointed.

                            By no means is this a Chicago-natives problem; I've heard people from any number of places complain that LA isn't [insert city here]. I can understand being homesick and wanting that little taste of home - while in Chicago I craved Souplantation, of all places - but food, like other culture, is often a local phenomenon, and it's hard to replicate. It's what makes travel worthwhile.

                            1. re: T-chick

                              I was tempted to get on my native-Angeleno high-horse until I read T-chick's note full of good sense and moderation. Let me just add a thought or two.

                              Imagine a visitor to Florence who insists on eating McDonald's hamburgers (or the closest substitute). He's guaranteed to be disapointed. Even if he finds a McDonald's the food won't taste the way it does here. [Horribly, when I visited Rome about 8 years ago there was a McDonald's at the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome, but I digress.]

                              Not only would our traveller be disappointed in what he WAS eating, but think about what he'd miss. Yes, visitors, LA does have good food. I ate a shrimp taco yesterday that cost $1.50 and made me (a lifetime non-smoker) wish for a cigarette to cap off the experience. Lunch at Valentino on Friday was transcendant; knowing Chicago slightly as I do, I'd be surprised to find an experience as good there.

                              So, branch out and make yourself at home! See what we have to offer. Who knows, when you move on to a new city, you may find yourself missing sushi, Korean food, our great produce and Baja-style tacos!

                            2. re: mc michael

                              Well said...but if I may counter, one of the things that is so great about LA/SoCal is that it is so large and diverse that it has the opportunity on an economy of scale to offer "Chicago" or "New York" or other regional specialty type places.

                              My palate is unfortunately somewhat limited by choice...and sushi or fish tacos or a lot of other ethnic foods do not appeal to me. I know...my loss. However, because SoCal is so large and diverse, to gives me an opportunity to actually find a place for a real deep dish pizza, or an italian beef sandwich...things that I enjoy not only because they bring me back "home" (heck, I have now lived in SoCal 19 of my 42 years) but because I love the taste of them.

                              1. re: RSMBob

                                Sorry you've had to take so much flack. I too am a native Chicagoan and love a good Chicago Dog. Those places are few and far between but you can find them. I don't know where you are but here are a few I know about:
                                Champ's, Seal Beach Blvd, Los Alamitos (intersection of 605 & 405 freeways)
                                Mustard's Last Stand, Katella Ave, Los Alamitos
                                Chicago Harv's, Chapman Ave, Fullerton
                                Windy C's Chicago Hot Dogs, Upland

                            3. I've never been to Chicago, but I just had 2 "Chicago Dogs" at East Coast Hotdogs in Huntington Beach. Vienna hotdogs in a poppy seed bun with two thick slices of tomato, mustard, fluorescent green relish, onions, sport peppers and celery salt. They also have Vienna Italian beef if you like that.

                              It's on the Southeast corner of Beach Blvd. and Garfield. I think someone wrote about it on this site once, but can't find the post.

                              1. Unfortunately your best bet is to order a deep dish pie from Gino's East and have them pack it in dry ice. It will actually stay well frozen for a couple of days, and then it takes about 35 minutes to heat at 375 degrees.

                                There used to be a great place in West LA for many years called Chicago Pizza Works, but alas, it is defunct, replaced by a strip joint.

                                1. Hi Jim,

                                  The absolute best Chicago style pizza we've found is about 40 miles outside of LA, in Orange County, at a place called Tony's Little Italy, at 1851 N. Kraemer Blvd, Placentia, CA.
                                  (714) 528-2159. The only cheese on top is a sprinkling of parmesan. The 10 inch deep dish pie weighs probably 10 pounds! They have thin crust, as well, great lasagna, etc.

                                  Sorry I can't help with the 'dogs, tho. Hope you get a chance to try it out. We usually have to order from Lou Malnatti's...L.A. is not the best source of Chicago pie.

                                  Good luck!

                                  1. Hey, don't blame you, Jim. The pizza just ain't the same anywhere else, and I've travelled a lot, even to Italy (though I did thoroughly enjoy the pizza there too). I've spent the last seven years craving REAL Chicago pizza, like I grew up with, and have yet to find it. I'm certainly not the kind of person who is afraid of enjoying new foods wherever I travel either but there's never been anything crossing my tastebuds quite like the spinach and cheese stuffed pizza from Giordano's or Edwardo's. I still have dreams about it.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: FoodieKat

                                      Well, this is a three-year-old thread that has been rehashed endlessly... but since it's back, I don't see any mention in this thread of the only non-Illinois branch of Portillo's, which is on La Palma Avenue in Buena Park (north OC). It's the same as the Portillo's in Chicagoland, same dogs, same buns, same relish, same everything.

                                      I live near(ish) Tony's Little Italy. It's very tasty, and probably as close as SoCal gets to Chicago deep dish pizza, but Lou Malnati's it isn't.

                                      One wonders how many of these Chicago chowhounds actually ate often at Lou Malnati's when they lived there. I suspect that Tony's Little Italy, though the best in SoCal, is probably the same quality as a regular neighborhood deep-dish joint in Chicago, the same way that the best fish tacos in New York are probably about the same as your regular neighborhood fish tacos here in LA, but not up to TBE, ETN or Senor Baja standard.

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        Spekaing of SoCal, IMHO Lefty's Chicago pizza in San Diego is a notch above Tony's Little Italy. http://www.leftyspizza.com I will have Malnatti's this weekend when travelling back -- can't wait!

                                        1. re: chowchi1

                                          I noticed this weekend that Jimmy Dean's in Newhall on Lyons advertised Vienna Beef Hot Dogs, but I do not recall seeing a Chicago-dog version on the menu.

                                    2. On the Cheapie and Easy 2 find side Your Local der weinerschizel has a "Chicago Dog"

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                        Having hot dog withdrawel symptoms last week, I went into an Inglewood der
                                        weinerschnitzel (sp?) and they told me they no longer have a Chicago style beef hot dog. I noticed a while back their version became less and less like the Chicago style dog as time went on. No reason to go there now for me.

                                      2. I'm one of the Chicago natives who complains (perhaps unfairly) of LA food beig sub-par. I have not found a great hotdog here yet. If all else fails you can hit up the Chicago institution chain Portillo's in Buena Park. Also, this past Sunday I had a very good deep dish sauasage pizza at Stone-Fire Pizza on La Cienaga. Very pleasantly surprised.

                                        1. Go down to the Vienna hot dog distributor just south of L.A. on Vernon and buy a box of dogs. 30 for $32 I think it is. Go and buy any hot dog bun and steam it and roll it around in some poppy seeds and there ya go!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: mpron

                                            Don't forget the green relish, tomato slice, pickle spear, onions, sport peppers, dash of celery salt. Did I forget anything?

                                            1. re: Skunk2Racer

                                              >Did I forget anything?

                                              Yeah, the hot-dog-shaped bubblegum from Flukey's!

                                              1. re: sbritchky

                                                Wow!
                                                Those were the best part of Flukey's.
                                                I remember chewing those as a kid!

                                                1. re: sbritchky

                                                  What about Ricobene's? Ooooh those cheddar fries! They're starting a frozen foods service also. Soon you can order products from their website and have them shipped over here to California.

                                                  http://www.ricobenesfamoussteaks.com/

                                                  On my recent visit back to Chi-town I bought a part-baked frozen pizza from Giordano's. It was still frozen by the time I got back home to OC! And sooo good. I wanna go back now. :-(

                                            2. Don't bother with Taste Chicago. The Italian Beef sangwich was pretty bad. No taste on the meat and not much of it. My friend had the dogs and he said that they were equally pathetic. Did not try the pizza but it looked awful. The young woman behind the counter must be a relative of the owners. Just a guess but I don't think any business owner would hire her. She was eating her lunch while helping customers (where's the city inspector when you neeed her?) and not pleasant. Stay away and for great authentic Stuffed Pizza try the Chicago Pasta House in Moreno Valley. It's a 74 mile drive each way for me but this is Real Chicago pizza. The Italian beef sandwich was pretty good but not same as Al's on Taylor Street.

                                              1. The Stand has a really good Chicago style dog, complete with celery salt and the weird green relish. Now I want one, darn it.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: EliAnnKat

                                                  I tried the Stand version recently. The tomatoes and pickles were wrong -- I think they used slices and chips instead of wedges and spears. Still, they do have the poppyseed bun, sport peppers, and neon relish.

                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                    Try QT's on Reseda and Parthenia....been there over 27 Years...must be doing somthing right.

                                                    Their Pickles, Buns, Dogs, Relish, Italian Gravy...all from Chicago (Vienna Beef)

                                                    QTs Chicago Dogs
                                                    8650 Reseda Blvd.
                                                    Northridge, Ca 91324
                                                    818-993-1999