Ask ChicagoNow: Where can you get the best hot dog in Chicago?

Ask ChicagoNow: Where can you get the best hot dog in Chicago?

ChicagoNow is a group of bloggers from all sorts of different backgrounds. One thing that helps tie them all together? Chicago.

With so much collective experience with the city, we’ve decided to put that knowledge to use by posing some of the oldest and most popular questions about Chicago to the group.

Where can you get the best hot dog in Chicago?

“Gene’s and Jude’s is completely overrated. Slender dogs, nondescript condiments, and terribly greasy, overcooked fries. They are arrogant as hell too about the ketchup question — some people enjoy ketchup ON THEIR FRIES! To have some clerk say, ‘Do you know where you are?’ when asked for french fry ketchup prompts the response, ‘Yeah, I’m at a middling hot dog stand not even in the city — where do you THINK you are?’ The hot dog season is almost upon us, which means that the Dog House will be opening its clapboard window for business. Sometimes the Music of the Spheres converges in the unlikeliest of places. Hard by Lawrence Avenue, in a modest shack with a clapboard window that opens in the Spring and Summer and is shuttered in the off-season, is a hot dog that modestly brings all the elements together in a harmonious, toothsome explosion of balance and bite to make this a Chicago style dog to reckon with. The Dog House is traditionally the place where bad husbands go to sulk and lick their wounds and consider their transgressions. Here, it’s a gloriously understated unpolished jewel of a place to sit outside and have a great dog on a patio with Vienna Beef umbrellas flying the colors, and a few picnic tables thrown in for good measure. What makes the dog so good? Care, for one thing. The dog is assembled with the kind of love an artist gives his most prized creation, or a doting mother making sure that her child’s raincoat is buttoned up and the collar smoothed down. Suffice it to say, the dog is dressed for success. Yes, the bright green relish is here, the steamed poppy seed bun, the crisp dill spear, the fresh tomato slices laying just so, the chopped onions, the tasty and tangy yellow mustard, all present and accounted for. Fries are not available, and were not even missed by Hot-C, a noted fan of the crinkle cut. A tamale side was just fine. There is, most assuredly, a formula at work here, and a recognition of that formula and pride in delivering it that defies tweaking. Why tamper with a good thing? The owner said that everyone’s conception of ‘a traditional, nostalgic dog is fine’ with him. It’s easy to see how somebody who moved out of state might conjure up the memory of this fine dog when homesickness and hunger merge.” — Mark Andel, Hot Dog Diaries

“Poochie’s in Skokie has a devoted weinie following going back decades. When I was a young Chicago area sales rep back in the day, this rather lesser known place was on the “Must Have Lunch At” list compiled by my predecessor.” — Linda Clark-Borre, Chicago From The Inside Out

“I love the Cubs but don’t get a hot dog at Wrigley Field.” — Carole Kuhrt Brewer, Show Me Chicago

“It’s not Chicago but Gene & Jude’s in River Grove is where it’s at. Portillo’s also has a pretty great Maxwell polish, also not a hot dog, just a little off on both counts but rewardingly so, go get one or both and then don’t stop crying from pleasure”. — Brian Kremen, ConFIdences

“Patio Beef on Broadway in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood has the best hot dogs I’ve found. The kind staff is very ready to add any toppings; I just get mustard and onions. They have a varied menu, but I haven’t explored it much because I keep getting hot dogs.” — Margaret Laing, Margaret Serious

“Poochie’s. It’s in Skokie, but worth the trip.” — Bill Mayeroff, Pints and Pups

“Sam’s Club off of Joliet Road and La Grange. A hot dog with a slushie is only $2.50 and the hot dogs are enormous. Then, when you’re full from your delicious hot dog, you take a drive down to La Grange and visit the movie theater where tickets are only $6 and you get free refills on the large popcorn. Ha!” — Mandie Molina, The Parental Venting Machine

“Give me a hot dog (ketchup only, of course!) and a chocolate milkshake at Susie’s Drive-Thru on Montrose, and I’m a happy camper. Of course you can get far more sophisticated than that, as they have approximately nine million flavours of milkshakes, but I like to keep it simple.” — Nicolle Neulist, Picks & Ponderings

“Superdawg for sure! Crunchy, comes with a pickle and the best fries!” — Lucy Rendler-Kaplan, Small Girl, Big City

“Wieners Circle on Clark. Plus you may appreciate their sense of humor…” — Ana Martin Sagredo, Foreign Affairs: Children Edition

“Doesn’t matter where you get them as long as they have ketchup and lettuce”. — Susan Schulhof, Looking for the Good

“Kim and Carlo’s on the Museum Campus. They have two hot dog carts that I’m aware of — maybe more? — One is just outside the front door of Shedd Aquarium. The other is at the southeast corner of the Field Museum, near the parking lot. My wife works at the aquarium and gets a Shedd discount: Chicago style hot dog with chips for under $3. Can’t beat it! Normal price might be about $4. On any given day when the official campus concession stands are open, you can walk right up to one and order a bland dog, but there will be a line at Kim and Carlo’s, just steps away, because their dogs are superb! And the view of the skyline from the cart in front of Shedd is breathtaking. For a summer lunch you just can’t beat it. And you might run into some fascinating people while waiting in line. We met a family from Atlanta once who had SO fallen in love with Chicago that the mom was begging the dad to move the family here. Anyway, if you’re visiting Museum Campus for any reason whatsoever, stop by Kim and Carlo’s and treat yourself to a great Chicago dog and enjoy the view!” — Floyd Sullivan, Waiting4Cubs

“Chicago’s Gene & Jude’s Hot Dogs Since 1946 The very best! Hands down. I used to ride my bike there with friends when I was a kid and now drive the 40 minutes when the craving strikes! No ketchup”. — Nina Kushner Vallone, You Know Neen

“Byron’s Hot Dogs. Tell ’em to run it thru the garden.” — H. Van Howe, Pizza For Breakfast

If you have a question about Chicago that you want answered, email it to mschwerha@tronc.com. Think you have the answer to the above question? Let us know in the comments below.

Lead image via Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune

Filed under: Ask ChicagoNow

Leave a comment