Not much is more all-American than the hot dog. And in Chicago it's a perennial favorite that has its own obsessive fan base for the local version that includes a number of ingredients (yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt) — just no ketchup.
Here are several places around town where you can find the best Chicago hot dogs, as well as where to go to discover the tastiest wild game encased meat situations in the city. Vegetarian? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
If you’d rather stump for a place showcasing hot dog styles from all over the country, America’s Dog should be at the top of your list. The menu always includes a classic Chicago-style hot dog, plus rotating selections such as the Dallas Dog (chili, onion and shredded cheddar cheese), Memphis Dog (BBQ sauce, pulled pork topped with fresh cole slaw) and San Francisco Dog (chili, mustard, ketchup, relish, onion, pickle, tomato, shredded cheddar cheese and celery salt). You can hit the road to seek out these dogs or check out one of three locations, including on Navy Pier.
Chicago's Dog House
You're certain to fancy Chicago’s Dog House, a fun little venue filled with cool reclaimed accents such as table tops made out of vintage bowling lanes and counters constructed from 100-year-old salvaged barn wood. You can go for signature dogs like the Midway Monster Hot Dog (Colby cheese, bacon and BBQ and hot giardiniera peppers, pictured) or one of the offbeat gourmet sausages made of buffalo, elk or BBQ smoked duck. It's a short walk to and from Lincoln Park Zoo. 816 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-248-3547
Fatso's Last Stand
If you find yourself whooping it up after hours at divey West Town hot spots like Bar DeVille, Continental, Empty Bottle or Tuman's, know that Fatso's Last Stand is open to satisfy your late-night needs. The dog here is classic at first glance, but they char-grill it for optimum flavor. Then it's topped with all the fixings: mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickle, sport pepper and celery salt. It arrives with a mound of sinfully greasy, hand-cut fries. Fatso's is only a few minutes from Wicker Park and The Robey hotel. 2258 W. Chicago Ave., 773-245-3287
For a host of unique encased meats, Frontier smokes a number of gourmet game every night. If you’re adventurous, try sausage made of alpaca, lamb chorizo or pheasant andouille. What makes it even better is that chef Brian Jupiter whips up house-made bourbon onion jam, molasses mustard, caraway kraut and house giardinera to accompany the offerings. There's also the signature boar bacon cheddar sausage rolls, available during brunch and dinner, and dressed up in traditional Chicago-style hot dog toppings. It's also located in Wicker Park. 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-772-4322
Even if Superdawg didn't offer up a great hot dog, it's worth a visit for the original 1940s-style, drive-in service complete with "electronic carhops" and the "Tarzan and Jane"-inspired hot dog icons on the roof. All of Superdawg's hot dogs come with a pickled green tomato, and they are very strict about the "no ketchup" rule. If you want ketchup, you gotta put it on yourself. But just as great is the Whoopskidawg (pictured), a char-broiled version of a Polish sausage that's basted in a secret sauce and served on a special roll with grilled onion and a pickle. 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-763-0660
Vienna Beef Factory Store & Cafe
The original recipe for Vienna beef debuted at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, and that same formula can be found in the encased meats at the famed Vienna Beef Factory Store & Cafe today. Many hot dog stands around town use the beef, including the cafe found on premises. Guests may plan a visit to tour the facilities, then chow down on classic dogs afterwards. The venue is about five minutes to Logan Square. 2501 N. Damen Ave., 773-435-2309
A trip to Lincoln Park is not complete without visiting The Wiener's Circle for charred dogs garnished with insults hurled by the staffers. The hilariously infamous hot dog stand is a popular hang following games at Wrigley Field and late-night adventures in area taverns. You'll also find Vienna red hots, cheddar char dogs, char polishes, burgers and some of the best fries this side of town. There's also a tiny outdoor patio that's great for people watching during the summer. 2622 N. Clark St., 773-477-7444
Kim and Carlo's Chicago Style Hot Dog Store has been a Chicago staple since 1995. The good folks here serve up Vienna Beef, Turkey, Vegan, or Vegetarian Chicago-style dogs out of their well-positioned stand. Located right on Museum Campus, this is the place to go for noshes post game at Soldier Field or after a visit at Chicago's Field Museum. Eat your traditional Chicago-style dog along the lake for a truly stellar view. 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.