Chicago's best hot dog stands

Chicago's best hot dog stands

A few months ago, I committed a Chicago sin: I admitted that I put ketchup on my hot dog. Horror of horrors. My original post brought to light the history of the Chicago-style hot dog, a Depression-era meal created by Fluky's. But there are plenty of other famous hot dog stands throughout Chicago, so here's more information about them for this week's 'Did You Know, Chicago?'"

Wiener Circle
When Larry Gold opened the Wiener Circle in 1983, it was just a regular hot dog place. But when Larry called a drunk an asshole to get his attention, the restaurant began to develop its culture of abuse. In the years since the abuse has escalated, largely because the mainly black staff has been provoked by the white/wealthy/drunk as hell clientele. And, of course, I'm sure you've heard about the Wiener Circle reality show. It's absolutely terrible.

Known for the giant hot dog speared on a fork on the restaurant's roof, the first Wolfies opened in 1967 at 2734 W. Peterson Avenue. I read that the original owner, Mickey Becker was the brother-in-law of Abe Drexler, but I'm not 100 percent sure that's true. Today, the spot is owned by Peter Romas, and he even opened a second location in Lombard.

Maurie and Flaurie Berman opened Superdawg in May of 1948 on the corner of Milwaukee, Devon and Nagle. Maurie was the one who put the two 12-foot hot dog people on the roof of the restaurant. Back then, Milwaukee and Devon was the end of the streetcar line and a very successful attraction for families and children. The menu hasn't changed much over the years, and Superdawg is still run by Maurie, Flaurie, their children and grandchildren.

It's hard to believe that Dick Portillo founded this hot dog empire in a small trailer in 1963. Known as The Dog House, it was located at North Avenue in Villa Park and cost Portillo $1,100. It didn't even have running water! The Dog House got a makeover in 1966 and was renamed Portillo's. More and more locations have been opened over the years, each with a different themed decor. Today, the Portillo Restaurant Group is the largest privately owned restaurant company in the Midwest.

What are some of your favorite hot dog spots?


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  • Hot Doug's (3324 N. California) and Franks 'n' Dawgs (1863 N. Clybourn) should be on the list, but both prefer to be view as encased meats/sausage places, not just hot dog stands.

    Delicias Mexicanas (4148 W 26th) has fantastic sonoran hot dogs.

    I love Gene & Jude's (River Grove) for a straight-up dog.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    I can't believe I forgot Hot Doug's! I don't think I've tried Franks 'n' Dawgs. I'm glad I have more to add to my list.

  • Jay's Beef has my vote.

    Superdawg is a dud in my book. Nothing special about that place.

  • In reply to Richard S.:

    Where is Jay's Beef? I haven't heard of that one.

  • In reply to Chicago Quirk:

    They are located on Nagel just north of Montrose.

  • Poochie's on Touhy is the best dog in the metropolitan area.

  • In reply to IC Illini:

    I'll have to check that one out! Thanks!

  • In reply to IC Illini:

    Poochie's is on Dempster in Skokie, they moved from their longtime Dempster spot to 3602 Dempster. Great dogs-they've been written up by everyone-NYTimes, Gourmet Magazine, Roadfood, etc.

  • Parky's Hot Dogs on Harlem Avenue just north of Madison in Forest Park is my favorite. Perfect Chicago-style hot dogs with 'to die for' French fries. They have to double-bag the fries because the cooking oil soaks through a single sack.

    And they still make MALTS, not just milk shakes.

  • In reply to MisterMan:

    Oooohh that's the mark of delicious fries.

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    nobody said Irvings?

    Anybody remember Pup and Pop from about 100 years ago?

  • In reply to Rose Meyer:

    Where was Pup and Pop?

  • In reply to Rose Meyer:

    83rd and Harlem? Great dogs made by some guy who appeared to be 100 years old.

  • Parkies is like the White Castle of hotdogs. It's one of a kind, and creates a craving for only that one particular dog.

  • In reply to jonQ:

    You had me at White Castle.

  • This is the type of list you would see in a tourist book, pretty basic and no depth. I’m not sure the person who wrote this article is not from Chicago.

    First off Superdawgs is the poser of all hot dogs. They charge you more than double what a hot dog should cost and it tastes like crap.

    A real hot dog enthusiast would have listed Gene and Jude's and Jimmy's on Grand.

  • In reply to daruthless:

    Oh please, Gene & Jude's has become every bit the tourist trap that Superdawg's is now. There's a reason they're both so insanely popular, because they're both excellent.

  • Jimmy's Grand and Pulaski ave. They could shake more of the grease off the fries more and cook them crispier(MY preference). But I love the simplicity of their dogs...
    Whenever I'm back in my old neighborhood, we have to stop at Jimmy's. bad for your waistline but delicious- none-the-less.

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    Nothing quite matches the "Misdemeanor Weiner" at Felony Franks, and your purchase helps transition former inmates back into society by creating straight jobs and instilling work skills. Outstanding!!!

  • In reply to Bert Freeman:

    They're closed

  • Jimmy's at Grand and Pulaski. If you don't think Jimmy's are the best, you've never been to Jimmy's. Gene and Jude's tries to match them, but they're a poor imitation.

  • In reply to chiburger2112:

    I never cared for the thick casing on the G&J dog. Too much effort in the bite.

  • In reply to chiburger2112:

    I love it! I'm going to try both!

  • Parse's on Higgins near Harlem. Great dogs but no fries

  • The JR's chain of dog places (ok, technically in the burbs, mostly south) made some good ones. Usually it's the places with no names that were once roadside trailers now citified with a bad foundation and some wooden framing that made the best dogs.

    Usually the guy slapping it together was 800 pounds, wore a dirty apron, and never smiled. This same guy would have killed a person applying ketchup, just as a warning incase his clones are still around.

  • chiburger2112,

    I'm going to have to humbly disagree with you and say Gene and Jude’s is a far more superior dog to Jimmy's ( though I still love him). Also since Gene and Jude’s has been around longer, I think it’s Jimmy’s that’s doing the poor imitation.

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    It comes as no surprise that someone who starts an article by consciously admitting to heresy (Yes, ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago is considered along the lines of heretic) would leave Gene and Judes off of their "Chicago's Best Hot Dog Stands". G&J's has been around for ages and defines what Chicago Dogs are all about. I encourage you, the writer, to check out G&J's and potentially consider revamping this piece. However, DO NOT ask for ketchup...They will likely send you out the door with no hot dog at all.

    Also, no Hot Dougs? Another joint, like G&J's, that is famous for both their dogs and fries and is leagues better than the spots you have listed.

  • In reply to Josh Booker:

    I'll admit that I forgot to add Hot Dougs. I've never been to Gene and Judes, and I'm absolutely going to go.

    I think I'll do a follow-up piece after having visited some of the ones the readers have suggested. I must say that spending a day visiting the city's best hot dog stands sounds AWESOME.

  • Used to be a great hotdog place called Willies Weenie Wagon at Crawford and 147th Street. It is where I had my first Chicago dog back in 1966. It was nothing more than a trailer, and the dogs were great. Went back a few years ago, it was awful.

  • In reply to AlanPz:

    Great call on the Willies Weenie Wagon. I often traveled 45 minutes to get those dogs. He sold it some time back and you're right, they aren't quite the same.

  • One of the best was the original Snyders at 99th on the south side, which them morphed into Jansons. Cheese dog on steamed bun without the absurd pickle spear, minced onion, relish, mustard, celery salt, sliced tomato....repeat. Sport peppers had you in tears.

  • From our two-flat, we used to walk to Jimmy's Hotdogs on Belmont and Kilbourn. Just a little corner trailer that was closed in the winter, but he made awesome fries, the kind you'd burn your hands on as you walked home 'cause you couldn't wait to eat them!

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    Snappy Dog, Edison Park. Awesome fare, staff is a blast! Gotta get you a Snappy Dog and their cheese sticks. Open super late.

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    Irving's Red Hots in Wilmetto

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    The best part of this comment conversation is that no matter where you are in the city, you can find a good dog, beef, or polish.

  • In reply to stevejr:

    Couldn't agree more!

  • The suggestions are amazing!!!! I'm going to try all of these and do a follow-up piece. Thanks for your comments!

  • Phil's Last Stand is quickly moving up the ranks and serving the best char Chicago Dog around and open late.

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    u need to try Janiekes Hot dog stand in bourbonnais ... the best.. chili dog with cheese sauce .......... awesome dude.

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    In reply to Gail Willis:

    and oinions of course : )

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