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The 10 Best Chicago Hot Dog Spots

BY: Shannon Grilli | Nov 17, 2017

When it comes to finding the best Chicago hot dog, it's hard to imagine what the judging criteria would be. After all, the Chicago style hot dog adheres to a pretty strict formula: mustard, relish, onions, sport peppers, tomatoes, celery salt, and a pickle. (We wouldn't touch the k-word with a 50-foot pole) Yet despite the puritanical guidelines, a fistful of franks always manage to win over hoards of adoring fans who insist their favorite dog is top dog. But which one is the real sausage king of Chicago? You'll have to hit up all 10 of these spots to decide.

Superdawg

6363 N Milwaukee Ave. | Norwood Park

The classic drive-in is clearly doing something right, because it's been a favorite of native Chicagoans since 1948. The Superdawg deviates from the classic Chicago-dog recipe in only one respect: it swaps out classic tomatoes for a slice of pickled green tomato, a unique touch you won't find anywhere else on this list (or, we guess, any other list). So far, we've heard no complaints.

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Portillo's

Multiple Locations

For those who live outside the Windy City, a dog from one of Portillo's many franchise locations may be their sole experience with a Chicago dog—and that's okay. The dog here is classic Chicago through and through, from its snappy casing to its pillowy, poppyseed bun.

Gene & Jude's

2720 N. River Rd. | River Grove

Name any other sausage the "best Chicago hot dog," and you might find yourself in tumble with Gene & Jude's throngs of adoring fans, which includes quite a few professional food reviewers. A few things to know: the spot is cash-only, there are no seats inside, and the fries are served on top of the hot dog. Don't be surprised if it's the best meal you've had in awhile.

Chicago's Dog House

816 W. Fullerton Ave. | Lincoln Park

The Chicago Dog House menu may tempt you toward it's more exotic offerings (Alligator sausage! Rattlesnake! Buffalo!), but you won't be sorry if you stick to the tried-and-true original. The skinless red hot lacks the signature snap that many Chicagoans hold dear, but the frank is also char-grilled instead of boiled, imbuing it with a smoky flavor and crispy bite that more than make up for it.

Wolfy's

2734 W. Peterson Ave. | West Rogers Park

When on a quest for a great hot dog, coming upon a gigantic sign shaped like a grilling fork holding a massive frank to the sky is generally an indicator that you're on the right track. It's also means that you've arrived at Wolfy's, where you can get your signature Vienna Beef dog steamed or charred. Which is best? To find out: order two.

Big Guy's Sausage Stand

7021 W. Roosevelt Rd. | Berwyn

Yet another char-grilled Vienna sausage makes its appearance here, and the prevalence of slightly-charred franks on this list makes us think that maybe, just maybe, it is possible to improve upon perfection (at least where hot dogs are concerned). Atop that frank, you'll find nothing more than the typical Chicago-style standards—and that's exactly how it should be.

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Wiener Circle

2622 N. Clark St. | Lincoln Park

The Wiener Circle is perhaps better known for the insults screamed by its staff (directly mostly at the late-night crowd) than it is for anything on its menu. But WC's Chicago dog deserves a spot alongside all the others on this list in the sense that it's a faithful and satisfying rendering of the classic. For a twist, order a cheddar char-dog, which also comes with the option to add all the classic Chicago-style toppings.

Byron's

1701 West Lawrence Ave. | Ravenswood

For the true Byron's experience, order the Dogzilla, a half-pound frank that's specially made for the stand by Vienna Beef. Just looking for a snack? The stand sells Chicago dogs in regular sizes too. But, come on...

Fatso's Last Stand

2258 W. Chicago Ave. | West Town

Vegetarians rejoice: there's a Chicago-style hot dog for you. Fatso's classic rendition of the dog should not be overlooked, but we're calling out the veggie version—made with panko-crusted sweet potato, not soy—since reviewers far and wide seem to agree that it's far superior to every other meat-free version of a Chicago dog the city has to offer.

Jim's Original

1250 S. Union Ave. | Little Italy

Though it's famous for being the birthplace of another iconic Chicago sausage (the Maxwell Street polish), Jim's puts as much care into its hot dogs as it does to everything else it serves at its 24-hour stand. The Jim's hot dog favors grilled onions over raw, making it the perfect middle ground between Chicago dog and Chicago polish.

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