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Jun 25, 2011 09:30 AM

Sonic Chicago Hot Dog

This is one thing I would try but do not have a Sonic nearby. Is the Chicago Hot Dog worth seeking out the next time we are in Jersey, Upstate or Connecticut?

The picture makes it look pretty decent (and yes I have had a real Chicago Dog).

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  1. No, no, no! When in Jersey, upstate NY or CT, do as God intended for you to and have one of the excellent local dogs! (Sorry, but as a Texan who lived for years in CT and later upstate NY, I have a fondness for Hummel Bros. dogs that borders on extreme. We have Sonics *everywhere* here and the dogs are the bottom of the barrel filler-dogs with some decent toppings, but nothing is going to get past that spongy/no bite to it dog.)

    14 Replies
    1. re: shanagain

      Amen, sez a Jersey boy in New Mexico. Frankly a a skinless bad dog.

      1. re: Passadumkeg

        Agreed. A cheap generic brand (I believe it's Hormel) that you can get anywhere. If you are in Connecticut and New Jersey which are 2 of the best states for hot dogs, seek out a good local place serving a quality frank. Tell me where you will be going and I can give you suggestions. Out of this World in Elizabeth, N.J. does a decent Chicago dog. Vienna Beef dog, poppy seed buns, and ingredients imported from Chicago. Everything authentic except they prepare the dog on a griddle. Request that they steam or boil yours if you are looking for an authentic Chicago style dog.

        1. re: hotdoglover

          HD, have you ever been to Der Weinderschnitzel hod dog chain in the SW? They are several in Albuquerque. We also have Burgers Wings Dogs that use 100% all beef kosher dogs. The toppings are red chile or green chile, I prefer the green. Alpine Sausage House make their own frankfurters w/ natural casing the are excellent. We take these home to our little town in the middle of the wilderness.

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            I've never been to the Southwest. I have heard of the Alpine Sausage House and know of their reputation for hot dogs. I recently sampled some German franks from Green Village Packing Company. As good a frank as I've ever eaten. The pigs and cows are slaughtered there and made into hot dogs. As fresh and good as you can get.

          2. re: hotdoglover

            When we are in Connecticut it is the Southington area. We know about Blackie's in Cheshire but have never eaten there. I got a jar of their relish for Christmas once though. Sounds like Sonic is a no go unless (like the poster from San Diego said) it's the closest thing.

            When in Jersey it is Morristown. But sometimes Hoboken or Jersey City.

            1. re: Sloth

              Blackie's is very good. Let me suggest Boulevard Drinks in Jersey City. Located on Journal Square (Kennedy Blvd), an excellent grilled all beef frank.

              1. re: hotdoglover

                Used to live by Journal Square back in the Tube Bar days and I don't remember Boulevard Drinks. Is it new (within the past 12 years)?

                1. re: Sloth

                  It's been there since 1937. Across the street from the old Stanley Theatre.

                  1. re: hotdoglover

                    I can't believe I lived practically across the street from there for 12 years and never stopped in. I checked Google images and know exactly the place you mean. I guess I just never really walked on that side of Kennedy Blvd. Now I'll make a point to go there the next time I'm in the neighborhood.

                    1. re: Sloth

                      In 2006 myself and seven other people reviewed 87 different places for the Star Ledger newspaper. We picked top 3 hot dogs in five categories; grilled, boiled, fried, chili dogs, and Italian Hot Dogs. Then we picked our top 3 overall regardless of category. Boulevard Drinks came in 2nd for a grilled dog and 2nd overall. Syd's was first in each category. Pretty impressive for 87 different hot dog establishments serving over 100 different hot dogs.

        2. re: shanagain

          I have to disagree. I think the opposite. The hot dog itself is tasty, but the toppings are the failure.

          And NO ... those are NOT sports peppers as someone said downthread. Even the menu (first photo) doesn't claim that. They just say hot peppers.

          And the worse abuse of all ... NO NEON GREEN RELISH

          They use sweet pickle relish and it ruins the whole damn dog in terms of being Chicago-style. The pickle is limp and characterless. The tomatoes are of the tasteless supermarket type, but for a Chicago dog that isn't a game breaker like the relish.

          And frankly, if it is NOT a Vienaa hot dog ... don't call it a Chicago dog. It doesn't matter if there are superior hot dogs in Connecticut ... for a Chicago dog you need a Vienna hot dog.

          AND I grew up in Connnecticut and am familiar with all those great hot dog joints. HOWEVER, in the context of a Chicago dog ... they don't do it.

          With the exception of the Chicago faux pas of weenie, I like the Sonic hot dog becuase it reminds me of the crappy street cart hot dogs in NYC that sit in dirty water all day ... it is a nostalgia thing.

          I liked the dog well enough to work my way thru the Sonic frank menu ... again the toppings to me are the bad part.

          The bacon and blue dog uses fake-looking, stiff, precooked bacon strips. I thought the "blue" was missing and finally figured it must be the anemic, watery, barely-there, white sauce. It does come on a poppyseed bun (some don't) It is not a great poppyseed bun ... too much like something from a supermarket bag, but decent enough. and better than the plain Sonic bun).

          You would think the NY dog would be safe enough. While the grilled onion addition seemed wierd ... sure, why not? The kraut, though warm, was marginal and on the soft side. The onions were an abomination. Soft, yet with an odd hard crunch. If I ever get desperate enought for a dog with kraut again, I might order this, but WITHOUT onions. The bun didn't have poppyseeds, so I would also ask for a poppyseed bun. Not NY-style, but that bun is better.

          I'm currently living in California where the concept of saurkraut ion a frank is virtulally unknown... or cold kraut tops the dog ... ick ... or they turn the hot dog into some gourmet production number. There is a place for artisan buns ... but not with hot dogs. Desperate times might call for Sonic.

          I guess this hit a nostolgia in a bad way note for me. I like the packaging. The silver aluminum foli type bag and little paper tray ... reminded me of all those bad hot dogs at drive in movies when I was a kid.

          Also on the plus side ... extras on the side ... the Sonic mint, salt packages, black pepper packages ... and no matter what you order, they ask if you want catsup. No ... I don't want catsup with a saurkraut dog.

          I have two more to try ... the Coney and the All American. Given I like the hot dog, the last might be the best option for me.

          First pbho: Menu

          2nd - Chicago dog

          3rd - Bacon and blue dog

          4th - NY dog ... yes it REALLY looked that disgusting. It is not just my bad photography. It seriously lookds like someone barfed on the dog ... it was difficult to get over the visual and bite into it.

          5th - Sonic packaging

          1. re: rworange

            "And NO ... those are NOT sports peppers as someone said downthread. Even the menu (first photo) doesn't claim that. They just say hot peppers. "

            They are definitely sport peppers here.

            1. re: twyst


              I don't care what the website says. The menu board (pictured below) does NOT say sport peppers.

              To borrow from Bensten

              Sonic, I served sports peppers, I know sports peppers, Sports peppers are friends of mine. Sonic, you're not serving sports peppers.

            2. re: rworange

              OK, but - I never said to get a Chicago style dog in NY/NJ/CT. I said to have an excellent local dog and skip Sonic.

              And IMO, there is no comparison between any of the popular local brands vs. whatever dog Sonic is serving. None. Ever. I'm not saying that maybe Sonic doesn't use decent dogs in your area - but would you recommend for someone to go to Sonic in NY/NJ/CT for any dog - I mean, even if it were dog/bun/mustard?

            1. re: ediblover

              I respectfully disagree. In the video you talk more about the toppings than the actual frankfurter which should get top billing. If you don't start with a quality frank, it doesn't matter what you do with it. If I was craving a hot dog and near a Sonic outside of my home state, I would stop in. But go out of my way? No way. There are too many top quality well made natural casing franks in New Jersey just minutes away from the few Sonics here that it wouldn't be worth it to me to stop at Sonic.

            2. The toppings and bun are great. The dog itself is not.

              However, when you are living in San Diego County and have to mail order green relish, have only two sources of poppy seeded buns and a handful of places you can buy frankfurters with casings, it's an acceptable $1.99 treat.

              1. An old thread about a NY Times article on Chicago Dogs in NYC.
                Hounds don't let other Hounds eat at chains.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Such is the power of advertising. Spent one short vacation in Chicago and had my share of Chicago Dogs that I thought were incredibly good. Now, several years later, an onslaught of Sonic ads touting their regional varieties of hot doggies almost had me crossing the threshold of a place I never before imagined I would enter. Thank you, sensible Hounds, for bringing me back from the world of Mad Men and their insidious ways.

                  1. re: Sloth

                    Lemme tell ya bud, NM is a doggie wasteland, just not part of the culture, so I just substitute burritos and mutton on fry bread w. green chile. I'm happy to be in Maine for the summer where I can find natural casing dogs..

                2. seek out super duper weenie in fairfield ct, close to i95...they make a damn good chicago style dog

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                    It might taste good, but it is the furthest thing from an authentic Chicago style dog. They use a beef/pork frank instead of an all beef one. They also split and griddle it rather than boiling or steaming. Most places that try to do regional styles of hot dogs outside of that region invariably get it wrong. No place outside of New Jersey gets a Newark style Italian Hot Dog right.

                    1. re: hotdoglover

                      oh, so you've been....would you say sonic does it better?

                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                        No. Both are not authentic but at least SDW uses a quality natural casing dog even if it's the wrong type. And it's served hot unlike Sonic.

                      2. re: hotdoglover

                        What's a Newark-style Italian Hot Dog?

                        Surprisingly, there have been a few Chicago Hot Dog places that have opened in the last few years around Dayton, Ohio. Authentic and very good, native Chicagoans who've come here, for the most part. Vienna Beef, sport (not "hot" as Sonic advertises) peppers and steamed. I won't bother with Sonic when I know I can get the real except for the locale thing.

                          1. re: hotdoglover

                            What do you know? There used to be a hot dog place by my parents in the Detroit area that served all these different styles of hot dogs. Detroit, New York, Chicago, Boston, Texas, etc. Even Fenway Franks. But they didn't have these. Seems like they really dropped the ball. Maybe that's why they went out of business.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                After all the hype, after all the build-up...never in my life have I had as bad a QSR experience as my visit to Sonic ..the new one that just iopened.

                                Here is the list...

                                15 minutes for someone to answer the voice box
                                25 minutes for the food to arrive
                                bone cold fries, and thre se3rver had no catsup
                                could not find the meat ion the burger...and I am not being is as thin as a piece of cardboard...
                                my fries had onion rings and tots mixed in...

                                as my daughter said to one eats the food at Sonic...they go for the drinks and the roller skaters...

                                bioy was she right.

                                1. re: jms123

                                  Anyone know if Sonic uses real sport peppers? I assume the bun does not have the requisite poppy seeds on it.

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    Yes, they are using poppy seed buns and real sport peppers. Its actually an exceptionally good hot dog for a chain. Not as good as what you can get in chicago, but still damn tasty!


                                    1. re: twyst

                                      The real question is what do they do to you if you ask for ketchup on the side ...

                                  2. re: jms123

                                    Your daughter echoes what all my 11th grade students say. Wisdom from the mouths of babes...

                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Our big joke now when we are driving by the mall or just talking about where to go out to eat is..."Wanna go to Sonic?" is a guiarantee to draw alot of laughs.

                                      Worst fast food experience of my cheap, apallls me to listen to the hype and marketing..have the owners of this chan ever eaten their own food? or have they ever eaten a great hamburger or hot dog? This is the epitome of corporate greed and the dumbing down of American food...

                                      The lines at the gas station next door have really started to dwindle as well...

                                      All the places below are not perfecxt but give youy a very good reason to visit...
                                      for hot dogs in this area...

                                      The Original Ranch in favorite
                                      Harry's in Colchester...not Davids...
                                      and any place that grills or griddles either a Grote and Weigel or Hummel Bros dog with a real casing...

                                      Blackies is ok...far too small..but tasty......and that place on RT 8 south of waterburry...Frankies? I think...

                                      Augie and Rays

                                      Capitol in New Britain is always a good have to eat three or four

                                      Try "Sicmas on the Bridge" in Boston...near Dorchester ...worth the trip...and Rutts Hutt in NJ

                                      Yaccop's in Allentown PA is is the Mecca of the Half Smoke...Ben's Chili bar in DC... I travel alot to DC and make this a stop on the way out of towm more often than not...

                                      There was a little place in Butler PA...right downtoen...Hot Dig Shop that was great...closed nowThe big O in Pittsburgh is really good...great fries too.

                                      So Mr. Sonic...

                                      take a week and go to each of these places and figure out what it is that makes these the best...then we'll work on that paper thin slab of mystery meat you call a burger...

                                      1. re: jms123

                                        I ate my way through college at Yacco's. Mom ate there for nearly70 years!

                                    2. re: jms123

                                      Until today, I hd never been to Sonic. We had to be in Walklingford on RT 5 (CT) and myb wofe and daughter decided that's where we were going. Wife and daughter had burger and grilled chicken sandwich which they loved. I ordered a Coney Island Dog combo.
                                      #1 The tots are no better than any frozen tater tots, and had no salt.
                                      #2 The chili and cheese sauce on the dog were good, but skimpy
                                      #3 The roll was much too deep for the dog and toppings, too much bread
                                      #4 The all beef dog was all salt
                                      $20 for 3 medium combos, plus $4 tip.

                                      Expected a car tray, like old drive ins, not be handed a bag
                                      Pleasant help, got the order correct, fast service.

                                      Would I go back? No, it was a novelty to experience once. Better food at Ducehess, a local burger chain just about 1/2 mile away.