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Simply the Best Hot Dogs in Boston

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I went to Windy City Eats this morning in Weymouth. An educated hot dog consumer will acknowledge that Chicago Hot Dogs (and in particular, Vienna Beef Hot Dogs) are simply the best quality, finest tasting hot dogs around. The owner of Windy City is directly from Chicago and imports Vienna Beef to Weymouth. I went this morning, after seeing a feature of the restaurant on TV, and can vouch that the Chicago Dog and Char Polish Sausage are fabulous. I have been waiting for a long time for Boston to recognize the supremacy of the Chicago Hot Dog and am incredibly excited that Windy City Eats is only a 30 minute drive from my house!

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  1. At first I had hopes that this post referred to Best's Kosher Frankfurters and Dinner Franks, which were originally from Chicago, I believe, and later sold to Sara Lee. They were sold at BJ's and Sam's Club but in the last year or so, Sara Lee has ceased manufacturing them. IMO, the "best hot dogs in Boston" were Best's. I have yet to try a beef frank that comes close, and I've had all the usual suspects available in the area.

    1. I've lived in Chicago and Boston, and I don't think there's anything inherently superior about Chicago hot dogs, though I am a fan of the style. I'd put a Speed's dog up against any dog I had in Chicago. Haven't been to Windy City Eats yet, though it's on my list.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      7 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I've lived in Chicago and Boston as well, and I'm quite happy with our dogs here.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Speed's great. But the problem that I have with hot dogs in this area is that very few places take it seriously. Drive through Connecticut and you see dozens of road side places for hot dogs, ie Super Duper Weenie, Swanky Franks, Merritt Canteen. In NYC you have all of the papayas. Rhode Island has the New York Weiner system. The standouts here though there are some, are few and far between. What to do when you have a craving at 11 p.m.?

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I'd agree that I don't think the style is inherently superior (although I like said style), but I really enjoyed WCE's chicago dog in relation to dogs that I've had out in Chicago. IMO they'd be a solid contributor to the chicago dog scene if they were out there instead of here.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I'm not sure comparing Speed's to a standard Chicago dog is an apt comparison. If a Boston vs Chicago dog vs dog comparison is to be undertaken, I think maybe something like the Fenway frank would be more appropriate. Speed's is a specialty dog. More along the lines of something like Hot Doug's or Fredhots in Chicago (although even that may be a dogs and cats comparison).

              Count me a fan of a good Chicago dog (minimalist-style). But I have room in my life for good versions of Boston's best, Chicago-style, CT shore dog, south eastern Carolina-style, etc etc etc.

              1. re: Nab

                I quite agree: Hounds shouldn't be perfectly faithful to what they grew up with. Anyone's who's not stylistically omnivorous is missing out.

                What I was going after was the OP's presumptious, "Anyone who knows anything will by default acknowledge the superiority of Chicago hot dogs." This is like the "New York-style pizza occupies the center of the universe" canard.

                I often repeat the same point here about regional preferences and nostalgia for what you grew up on. There's nothing that inherently makes one's hometown style superior to any other, but superior specimens of one style will often trump mediocre specimens of another. A great Cincinatti pie still trumps an average New York one.

                I'd tend to agree that the average Chicago hot dog is superior to the average Boston hot dog: Boston's a pretty lame hot dog town. But our great ones stack up well against great ones from anywhere.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: Nab

                  fredhots - not sure if you're referring to the late great FredHots and Fries (in Glenview, IL), but they closed in April 2011 - I miss them greatly.

                  I've moved to Boston, so I'm looking for a few good Chicago-style hot dog places. Load me up!

                  1. re: CincyBOSguy

                    Windy City Eats.

                    http://windycityeats.com/

              2. What makes Vienna Beef superior is that their hot dogs include "Bull meat" which is the binder that holds together the hot dog. It's the thing that makes it snap when you bite into it. And the flavor comes from the trimmings.

                Those trimmings are the fat that's sliced off corned beef and pastrami.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chazari99

                  i thought the snap was attributed to the casing, usually hog.

                  1. re: ScubaSteve

                    The snap does come from the casing. For Vienna dogs it is sheep natural casing.

                    While I thought the Chicago dogs at Windy City were good, they were Boston good and would not be my choice in Chicago. Same with the Italian Beef. I'll go back, but I'm in no hurry.

                    1. re: tallullah

                      Disagree on the dog, i'd put their dog against most that i've had in chicago. I'd agree that the italian beef is so-so (but considering that it even exists out here i think it's awesome).

                2. I too went to Windy City, and their dog is at best average. If this is an example of a ChiTown dog, I won't be ordering one next trip there. There are Summer hot dog/ burger stands at Nantasket Beach that are far superior. Sorry to disagree so harshly, but I just don't get the attraction to Windy City.
                  CocoDan

                  1. Honestly I find the classic chicago dog with that ridiculous green relish a total bore. I'd take a Speed's dog, or my personal favorite Gray's Papaya hot dog, (NYC) well done so it is a bit crispy, with onion relish any day over some flabby steamed chicago dog, tomato? and green relish.

                    Honestly never understood why anyone makes a big deal about Vienna Beef. The "classic" chicago dog don't hunt in my book.

                    1. It is too easy to inadvertently push buttons on these boards.

                      Sounds like some good variety for the area, there is always room for options.

                      Are you originally from Chicago? Sometimes we love what we grew up with or are accustom to the most. It is a matter of personal preference and the nostalgia factor is high. For instance I love some loaded NY System weiners RI style, but that is what I grew up with.

                      Anyway it is good that you found a place you like so close to your home.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Gabatta

                        Another former Rhode Islander here. I have to find a New York System on my next visit. They are memorable and it's fun to watch the counter person prep them.

                        Hey we need a Weenie joint in Boston. I wonder who we could talk into doing it?

                        I must admit that while I love them, they are hard to digest!

                        1. re: BostonZest

                          Bring me some pizza strips back as well when you go!

                          1. re: BostonZest

                            There is Code 10 in the South End which will do in a pinch, but I agree there needs to be more year-round dog joints in town.

                            Has anyone had the butcher shop hot dog lately? It's still $16 on the menu, I'm surprised they haven't lowered the price yet.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              I always forget about Code 10, but their dogs are good.
                              And now there is an all-beef hot dog stand at the SOWA open market, with a french fry stand right next to it. At least it was there this weekend, not sure if it'll be a permanent fixture....I didn't try the dog but a friend did and said it was very good.

                              1. re: twentyoystahs

                                How much was it do you know? I had a hard time passing up those gigantic brownies but managed to resist. A few other baked goods this year which is nice.

                                1. re: Joanie

                                  $5 for a dog with chili and cheese. Friend said it was too big for one person to eat....course that's probably not the case for many hounds though......

                                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                                    Considering I've seen people discuss having 2+ speeds dogs in one sitting here ... :)

                        2. I haven't been to Windy City Eats yet, though it is on my list of places to try. I'm more of a lover of simple, basic hot dogs, so my favorite place to go in the area is probably Simco's in Mattapan.

                          1. Perhaps my favorite eatery anywhere is Red Hot Lovers, a Chicago hot dog restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My standard order: two Vienna Beef hot dogs, charred, and topped with traditional Chicago dog fixings, served with a side of cheese fries topped with chopped onions and hot peppers. Red Hot's Chicago dogs are superior to any I've had in Chicago (although I know it would be near impossible to get anyone in Chicago to admit that a better Chicago dog can be had outside of the Chicagoland area).

                            That said, given the preparation, I'm not sure I can discren any distinctness in the Vienna Beef hot dog compared to any other quality dog. Moreover, although in a head-to-head competition I would take Red Hot Lovers over Speed's, the products they serve are so wildly different, there's no need to do a head-to-head comparison; there's room in my heart (and my stomach) for both!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Blumie

                              See a charred dog I could get into, but steamed, just hard for me to get excited...

                              1. re: Blumie

                                Oy... I gained 15 pounds from eating post-Econ-lecture Red Hot Lovers when I was in college.

                              2. I would like to promote the supremacy of Zweigle's white hots!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Duster17

                                  Never heard of Zweigle's. What is that, like a weisswurst?

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    A great texture and nicely spicy plus white in color: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_hot

                                    1. re: Duster17

                                      So the resemblance to weisswurst ends at their color. Funny, I have relatives in that Buffalo/Rochester area, and they are all about the wings and beef on weck; I've never seen those dogs. I will have to insist on trying 'em on my next visit.

                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        They had a great stand on Monroe Ave (I think) back when I was in college. I checked their website and saw no mention of it, so you will have to buy and grill your own. If Wegman's ever arrives on the scene we'll be able to buy 'em there!

                                        1. re: Duster17

                                          You are thinking of Zab's Backyard hots on Park ave i think. Here is some info from various articles on white hots from rochester area.
                                          http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/n...

                                2. I consider myself an educated hot dog consumer, having sampled dozens of brands of hot dogs as well as visiting a couple of hundred hot dog establishments. It is my hobby. I will not acknowledge that Chicago Hot Dogs are the best or that Vienna Beef produces the finest tasting hot dogs around. If there's one thing I've learned is that many, if not most people are loyal to and prefer what they grew up with. Those who grew up with a spicy, kosher style New York dog like Nathan's most likely will consider a quality German style beef and pork frank from a butcher shop to be bland. Others who grew up with milder German style franks with a subtler spicing will consider a New York or Chicago style dog to be too spicy/garlicky.

                                  The bottom line is that taste is subjective. What you like is the best hot dog. While taste is subjective, other parameters can be used to determine a quality dog from a mediocre one. A quality dog is made from good cuts of beef and/or beef and pork. Or beef, pork and veal. Supplemented by trimmings. Or containing no trimmings. No fillers, or preservatives. A natural casing. Cheap dogs use cheap trimmings, corn syrup, fillers, and mechanically separated meats or "variety meats".

                                  A quality hot dog is more than just good beef or brisket. The spicing is just as, if not more important than the beef. I've had kobe beef dogs that tasted ordinary and not worth the high price. I've had dogs made from organic ingredients that tasted horrible. Boars Head beef and Nathan's beat out a frank I had made from prime beef that cost $15.00 per pound.

                                  I believe that a quality hot dog can stand alone without all the crap that many people include on it. The focus should be on the frank itself, not the nuclear relish, overpowering sport peppers, tomatoes, and giant pickle spear. I have had and enjoyed Chicago hot dogs, but to me it is overkill. I agree that the Vienna brand blends in well with the other ingredients for this style of dog. A more flavorful dog like Sabrett, Hebrew National, or Nathan's would overpower the other ingredients and throw everything out of balance.

                                  Vienna is a well made dog, but so are many others. My favorite beef dog, from Best Provisions of Newark, N.J. (not the Best from Chicago that recently stopped production) is made from lean and choice beef, has a good sheep casing (which provides the snap, not bull meat), and a wonderful spicing. Much more flavorful, and in my opinion better than Vienna Beef.

                                  I haven't even gone into the great German style dogs like Thumann's, (the pork comes right off the hams) Hartmann's, Sahlen's, and the ones made at small butcher shops and pork stores. Comparing these to spicy beef dogs is like comparing apples and oranges.

                                  I haven't been to Speed's, but I have sampled the dogs used by them past and present. Currently they are using Grote & Weigel all beef dogs. Before the switch they used Pearl. Personally I prefer both of these to Vienna Beef. These dogs are great with just a little mustard.

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: hotdoglover

                                    Wow, awesome, perhaps the definitive treatise on the hotdog...

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Thanks. I didn't even mention the various ways of preparing a hot dog; griddled, charbroiled, steamed, boiled, simmerred in water, deep fried, heated in water first then grilled, etc. I don't like microwaved or those roller grills which are more appropriate for movie theatres than hot dog joints.

                                      1. re: hotdoglover

                                        or, as Speed's does: simmer in apple juice and brown sugar then grilled over coals.

                                        1. re: ScubaSteve

                                          Yes. I've had a dog at a place in Newburgh, N.Y. prepared this way. While it was different (and good) I still preferred their same dog plain. I wonder if you can get the dog at Speed's plain. I would imagine you could. But if I were to go, I'd get it prepared the way he usually does. And have another with just mustard if I could fit it.

                                          1. re: hotdoglover

                                            From what I've heard when I've been there you can order it anyway you want it. We had a "ketchup only" girl in back of us the last time.

                                            1. re: BostonZest

                                              "...nobody, but nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog..."
                                              -H. Callahan SFPD

                                              1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                They have a vienna beef ad at windy city eats describing the dog as "NK-17", No Ketchup Over the Age of 17

                                                1. re: ScubaSteve

                                                  Any dog with ketchup on it should be put down!

                                                  1. re: hotdoglover

                                                    Feel free to put it down in front of me; I'll give it a good home! :)

                                                    Speaking on behalf of mustard-haters everywhere, I've just never gotten the anti-ketchup thing. Seems like a really arbitrary form of snobbery, especially when dealing with Chicago-style dogs with a pound of toppings!

                                                    1. re: brandywiner

                                                      Yeah, and when you like both, ketchup is the perfect complement to the mustard.

                                              2. re: hotdoglover

                                                On my only try at Speed's I asked for the usual prep, but it was just too sweet for my tastes. I thought the flavor of the sausage...err, I mean hot dog would shine more with just mustard - and maybe some raw onion. Of course kraut would be phenomenal, but I don't think that's an option there. ;-(

                                                1. re: LStaff

                                                  I used to tell my friends who thought it to be too sweet to drop the special sauce, but lately have been telling them to drop the relish to much better effect.

                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                    Ahah, so that explains it. I mostly loved my Speed's dog, but asked for it w/o special sauce, since I almost have an aversion to sweet barbecue-type sauces. I still found it too sweet. I'll pass on the relish next time and then still have the background of the sauce w/o the distraction of the relish. Thanks, jgg!

                                                    1. re: bear

                                                      You might still find it too sweet, but that takes a lot out of it

                                        2. re: hotdoglover

                                          Speaking of Pearl, are the Pearl hot dogs seen packaged in supermarkets the same as those you can find in posh delis like Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square? This confuses me since IIRC people here don't seem to rate typical supermarket choices, yet I do see that brand on the shelves locally in commercial packaging. The ones found in Dave's, wrapped by hand in a sandwich bag and priced by weight, are great.

                                          -----
                                          Dave's Fresh Pasta
                                          81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                        3. Ditto on the Simco's rec. Thin, good snap, and New England roll grilled and buttered on the outside with a little over hang make it a classic in my book.

                                          Speed's is good once in a while. I enjoy the nice flavor and craftsmanship, but the thickness of the dog prevents it from being great to me. I wish they would offer a normal sized dog - I'm sure it would become my instant favorite.

                                          I'll try the Chicago style dog when I get a chance. Then again I was hyped about trying a NY System at Olneyville, only to find it inedible.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Mr. Mack

                                            Grady goes pretty far beyond the standard chicago hotdog these days, but everything is still using vienna beef products which I really enjoy.

                                          2. Inre Windy City, I still have not been ... but I did recently enjoy a great knockwurst at Lendy's Deli in Saugus. It's been a long time since I had a Hebrew National but it was pretty darned good. So was the beans and kraut that accompanied the dish ... gotta say though that Hebrew Nationals 'stayed with me' for a few hours after the gustatory delight.

                                            1. Just wanted to mention that I finally made it out to Windy City Eats today. Boy, that was a really good hot dog. Very authentically Chicagoean. And I love the Chicago hot dog --- none of that nasty charring around the dog, just a perfectly tender hotdog nestled in a steamed bun with all the appropriate toppings. You can even buy jars of sport peppers there! Very nice family owned place.

                                              -----
                                              Windy City Eats
                                              407A Middle St, Weymouth, MA 02189

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: lipoff

                                                For those who like the "nasty charring," can we get it that way?

                                                1. re: Blumie

                                                  Probably, Grady has been pretty open to requests that I've had in the past, and they've had various methods of cooking dogs here and there (they've had fried dogs, for instance)