Chicago's Must-Try Hot Dogs
Forget the “dog days of summer.” The best time of year to feast on hot dogs is the Fourth of July. Because nothing is more all-American than encased meat. And there’s no better place for such a feast than Chicago. Here, good hot dogs are practically a religion, found throughout the city from upscale and contemporary versions to classic dives. In honor of our most patriotic holiday, here’s a roundup of some of the city’s best hot dogs:
The Wiener's Circle: If you’re craving the quintessential Chicago hot dog experience (with a bit of attitude on the side), a visit to Lincoln Park’s iconic Wiener’s Circle is in order. This late-night joint is a timeworn institution, best known for the infamous back talk from employees after midnight-ish. During the day, it’s pretty much your standard friendly eatery, with staffers slinging perfect, pleasantly charred Chicago-style dogs.
Fatso’s Last Stand: This Ukrainian Village staple specializes in all things comfort food, with a particular penchant for char-grilling and deep-frying. Of all its menu merits, the best is the char dog with all the fixins. Topped with tangy mustard, relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, onions and celery salt, these things come rolled up nice and tight with a smattering of salty, perfectly greasy, french fries.
Old Town Social: One of the few restaurants in town that actually goes the extra mile to make their own hot dogs is Old Town Social. Sure, housemade sausages are pretty commonplace, but hot dogs are another matter, requiring lots of precise work and recipe editing to ensure consistency, texture, and flavor. Using local, sustainable heritage breed pork, Old Town Social breaks down whole hogs and cures them in-house before crafting a mini hot dog trio: the Coney dog, the corn dog and the classic Chicago dog.
Bangers & Lace: In terms of nostalgic Americana, hot dogs and beer go together like peanut butter and jelly. The former doesn't get any better than at Bangers & Lace, Wicker Park's wildly popular beer and sausage bar loaded with novel meats perfectly aligned with the ample beer program. Think duck BLTs made with duck and bacon sausage; and char dogs bedecked with pimento cheese and spicy ketchup. There's also a handful of more classic hot dogs, like a corn dog, slaw dog, and Chicago dog.
The Duck Inn: Right in step with the duck theme at this cozy Bridgeport haven, the famous duck and beef sausage made by Kevin Hickey is enriched with duck fat and Chicago-style with mustard, relish, peppers and housemade pickles. Served on the bar menu, it’s a great example of a classic comfort food treat amped up with cheffy flair.
Superdawg: When it comes to hot dogs in Chicago, one of the essential bucket list spots is Superdawg. Follow the glowing (and mildly creepy) eyes of the giant hot dog figures atop the restaurant on the northwest side and make your way to encased meat Mecca, where hot dogs are king and crinkle-cut fries provide the perfect side. A heartwarming throwback, Superdawg is the rare place that still features drive-in service, meaning cars park and place their orders through machines, with servers bringing food right to your window. It's a real blast from the past, made all the more memorable by the juicy hot dogs. Get the namesake Superdawg topped with zesty piccalilli, a pickle, Spanish onions, mustard, and hot peppers.
The Bakery at Fat Rice: For something totally out of the box, you gotta head to Fat Rice’s adjoining bakery. Inspired by Chicago’s most famed meaty treat, the Asian cafe offers a Chicago-style hot dog bun that takes all the requisite ingredients and reformats them entirely. Here, the snack consists of chopped Vienna beef hot dogs baked into a Portuguese sweet dough with green relish, celery salt, poppy seeds, tomatoes, onions and mustard. It’s all capped off with a little sport pepper on top.