Chicago's 13 Best Hot Dogs

By Staff in Food on Jul 22, 2013 7:30PM

Few cities take the hot dog as seriously as Chicago. Arguments over the merits of the Chicago-style dog have ruined friendships, frayed marriages, pitted families against each other and given thousands of Chicagoans indigestion, all over whether a Chicago hot dog needs all those toppings or if Vienna Beef is better than Red Hot Chicago franks. And let's not forget the goddamn ketchup debate.

Today is National Hot Dog Day and, in honor of the occasion, we put together a list of what we feel are the best hot dogs in Chicago. These aren't all Chicago-style dogs. In fact, there's some small yet blessed diversity in here. If you don't like our list or feel we omitted something, remind yourself: this is our list.

SUPERDAWG'S "SUPERDAWG"

Esquire magazine named this the Most Life-Changing Hot Dog and if you feel this is another case of East Coast bias, take it from someone born and raised on the Northwest side. Superdawg's signature wiener is all that and the proverbial bag of chips. I'm particularly fond of the green tomato nestled among the sport peppers, onions, dill pickle wedge and pure beef frank. I have a few small regrets about living on the South side. Being farther away from Superdawg is one of them. —Chuck Sudo

Superdawg is located at 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago and 333 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Wheeling.

FOOTLONG RED HOT AT MURPHY'S RED HOTS

Even though the Chicago hot dog is scoffed at by some outsiders as having simply way too much crap on it, Bill Murphy at Murphy's Red Hots steps the condiments up further on their foot long char-broiled hot dog with lettuce and cucumber slices in addition to the usual suspects. While this may seem over the top, the added crunch provides a much needed layer of texture, and the char and smoke flavor imparted to the hot dog after being butterflied and grilled cuts through the massive amount of toppings coming together in one harmonious bite. Paired with a side of hand cut fries -- or a cup of Mrs. Murphy's homemade soup when the weather is cold—it's a basket of food that has been luring us in time and time again for almost two decades. Murphy's strong anti-ketchup stance and inclusion into the Vienna Beef Hall of Fame adds to its Chicago hot dog street cred. — Prescott Carlson

Murphy's Red Hots is at 1121 W. Belmont Ave. Cash only.

QUICK BITE CARRY OUTS

Quick Bite Carry Outs embodies so much of what makes a good Chicago dog deeply satisfying: the flavor, of course, and the price (two dogs, fries and a drink for under $5), but also that sense of pride and, dare we say, the craft you detect in its simplicity. It belies the fact you're eating in a garish shack surrounded by traffic. —Chris Bentley

Quick Bite Carry Outs is located at 5155 N. Western Ave.

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Photo by Debbie Carlos.

THE CHICAGO DOG AT HOT DOUG'S

It would be enough to defend this addition with a simple "Duh!" Truth is, Chicago's reigning sausage king would be a mere pretender to the throne if he didn't get the classic Chicago-style hot dog right. Yet Doug Sohn does and that's a bigger reason for me to wait in line than the daily specials and the duck fat fries. —Chuck Sudo

Hot Doug's is located at 3324 N. California Ave.

THE JUMBO HOT DOG AT BYRON'S

Here's one of the few hot dog stands in Chicago that offers ketchup on your tubesteak on request. I prefer the jumbo frank here, a quarter-pound of beef served with a freaking salad bar on top. You'll only need one because it'll last you all day. —Chuck Sudo

Byron's Hot Dogs is located at 1701 W. Lawrence Ave. and 1017 W. Irving Park Rd.

THE "MIGHTY DOG" AT FAT JOHNNIE'S FAMOUS RED HOTS

This South side shack is best known for having the best mother-in-law (a tamale served with chili on a hot dog bun) in Chicago but they really up the ante with the Mighty Dog— a hot dog and a tamale served with chili and all the trimmings of a Chicago-style hot dog, plus raw cucumber slices. Bring some antacid with you—you'll need it. —Chuck Sudo

Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots is located at 7242 S. Western Ave.

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Image via Gene & Jude's website.

GENE & JUDE'S

This River Grove shack consistently ranks among the best hot dogs in America and definitely is the gold standard for the Depression dog, a version of the Chicago-style hot dog limited to mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers as trimmings, topped with and fresh cut French fries. The frank has that beautiful steamed snap to it and the fries are perfectly cooked. Every Chicagoan serious about his or her hot dog should make at least three trips to Gene & Jude's. —Chuck Sudo

Gene & Jude's is located at 2720 River Rd. in River Grove.

JIMMY'S RED HOTS

Another spot that specializes in the Depression Dog, this West side shack loudly and proudly proclaims no ketchup is allowed on their dogs. But their hot dogs come with some of the best tasting fries in town; ketchup would be a distraction. The ordering process here is to be heeded, as well. Jimmy's forms two lines and never shall they meet. The ideal time to visit is after dark. Some of the line cooks have been known to carry their own, um, insurance policies to protect themselves and the stand from some of their neighbors. —Chuck Sudo

Jimmy's Red Hots is located at 4000 W. Grand Ave.

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Photo credit: Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist

35th Street Red Hots

Yet another place serving up a credible Depression Dog with crispy fries, this South side shack just over the viaduct from U.S. Cellular Field does brisk business with the White Sox fans motivated enough to attend games at 35th and Shields. You can also get these hot dogs at Red Hot Ranch on North Western, but I have to indulge in some neighborhood pride. —Chuck Sudo

35th Street Red Hots is located at 500 W. 35th St.

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Photo credit: Marshall Rosenthal
JUMBO CHAR DOG AT WOLFY'S

Although this West Rogers park hot dog stand makes a solid Chicago-style dog, there's something about the jumbo char dog here that makes it a must order whenever I find myself up north. Something about the smoke and the char sets off a primal urge and I want to go home and fire up the grill. Thankfully, the folks at Wolfy's take care of all of that for me. —Chuck Sudo

Wolfy's Hot Dogs is located at 2724 W. Peterson Ave.

MR. G'S ITALIAN BEEF

Hand-cut fries and a splash of Chicago brusqueness round out the expertly prepared hot dogs and Polish sausages at Mr. G's Italian Beef, whose Milwaukee Avenue location fills a gap in the Logan Square restaurant smörgåsbord. High-minded and far-flung cuisines abound near this stretch of the Blue Line, but what's a neighborhood food scene in Chicago without a good hot dog? —Chris Bentley

Mr. G's Italian Beef is located at 2715 N. Milwaukee Ave.

BELLY SHACK'S BELLY DOG

A former Chicagoist "One Great Dish" selection, this hot dog still measures up with its grilled dog served with with kimchi salsa, egg noodles, crispy green papaya and togarashi fries. the changes Bill Kim made to the dish improved upon it, and it's a great break from the rigid, Chicago-style options surrounding his Logan Square restaurant. —Chuck Sudo

Belly Shack is located at 1912 N. Western Ave.

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Photo credit: T Manning

THE HOT DOG AT JIM'S ORIGINAL

More than once I've turned to this staple of Chicago's hot dog culture to help me through the the pangs of a night of alcohol over-consumption. And for good reason: the pure beef Vienna beef hot dogs are perfectly steamed and come with enough caramelized onions, mustard and sport peppers to fell a horse. The complimentary fries that come with the hot dog are enough to feed you in the morning. Kill the hair of the dog before it gets you. —Chuck Sudo

Jim's Original is located at 1250 S. Union Ave.


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