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Jul 17, 2014 06:48 PM

Hot Dogs & Pizza in Chicago

When I took my kids to Manhattan, we ate hot dogs for lunch and pizza for dinner trying to find the best ones. It was so much fun. Want to do the same thing in Chicago. Looking for suggestions. I've heard Hot Doug's is not to be missed. Thoughts?

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  1. When will you be in town? Hot Doug's is closing this fall.

    1 Reply
    1. You might want to mix it up a bit by trying to find the best Italian beef sandwich, using this recent article from the Tribune as an inspiration/ guide,

      1. For pizza, see this topic:

        Pizza -

        As for Hot Doug's, the waits there are currently running two hours or more. Plus it's quite inconvenient to get to. If you want an alternative for unusual encased meats without the inconvenience or the waits, consider Franks 'n' Dawgs. If you're looking for the classic Chicago-style hot dog (which is not what Hot Doug's is all about anyway), consider Portillo's.

        10 Replies
        1. re: nsxtasy

          I should have prefaced this post by saying that we live in the Chicago suburbs now. So there's a Portillo's literally 3 minutes from the house. What I'm hoping to learn about are those cool, local places that are not chains and I wouldn't otherwise have heard of.

          1. re: AwildaTorres

            To bring the experience home you should pick up hot dogs from Romanian Kosher Sausage on Clark - the make excellent all beef dogs and for something a bit spicier try the garlic dog

            1. re: AwildaTorres

              west suburbs? north suburbs?
              Could probably give you some good hot dog places near you if we know your location.
              thin crust or deep dish pizza?

              1. re: Polski

                I'm going to be in downtown Chicago and am looking for recommendations in the city. I will have a car, so I can go to the neighborhoods as well. With respect to thin or deep dish, really either. We like both.

                1. re: AwildaTorres

                  There are planty of places downtown - multiple out posts for Pizano's and Lou Malnatis, Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due which usually are the top recommendations for deep dish pizza but they also make excellent thin crust pizzas

                  1. re: weinstein5

                    I totally agree, but am wondering if there are any independent pizzerias that I wouldn't know about. Lou's is our favorite, but we have that in the burbs too. Haven't tried Pizano's though.

                    1. re: AwildaTorres

                      I'm a big fan of good Chicago deep dish, but I have totally fallen in love with Pizzaria da Nella on Fullerton. They serve a wonderful Neapolitan pizza - thin crust, simple toppings. It's darn close to what you get in real Naples. I recommend that you give it a shot.

                  2. re: AwildaTorres

                    My favorite thin crust pizza, Coalfire, tends to have a bit of char on the crust, which most kids don't care for. I think you have enough good recommendations in this thread to have a fine tour of hot dogs and pizza in the city.
                    At any rate, here's one more list (pizza).

                2. re: AwildaTorres

                  >> What I'm hoping to learn about are those cool, local places that are not chains and I wouldn't otherwise have heard of.

                  There are lots of lists of such places, which you can call up by entering "chicago's best hot dogs" into any website search engine. For example, this recent list is a pretty good one:

                  The 14 Best Hot Dogs In Chicago -

              2. Pizza...Vito and Nicks...65th and Pulaski

                1. I commend you for exposing your kids to more locally owned independent joints. You know that visiting a hot dog stand is about more than the food, it's the experience too. So let me recommend a couple places. Jeff's Red Hots on Cicero Ave is a cool old stand on the Northwest Side. It has a beautiful old sign and it's always filled with neighborhood regulars. There's an elevated toy train that runs around the interior, I bet your kids would love that. Jeff's is also notable for offering sauerkraut, which I have not found at any other Chicago area place. Their dogs are excellent, but if you ask for a one "with everything" you get a forkful of kraut along with the other Chicago style toppings. I really like it but they're happy to leave it off if you ask.

                  The other stand I'd recommend is Suzie's Drive-In on Montrose. If you told a Hollywood set designer to build the archetypal neon-encrusted 50s-era Americana hot dog stand it still wouldn't look as good as Suzie's does. Go at night for the full pastel neon glow. The hot dog here is not bad, not great but it's worth the trip for the ambiance alone. They also have a dessert menu with I swear like 50 different milkshakes on it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                    Thank you everyone for the wonderful suggestions. We are off for our weekend in Chicago and looking forward to trying some of these places!