An excellent, authentic Chicago-style hot dog can be hard to find outside of the city. With its all-beef hot dog on a poppy-seed bun, topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato, peppers and celery salt, any other style hot dog just won't cut it for some. Chicago's most famous hot dog restaurants and stands have been around for years, and Chicagoans and tourists alike flock to these places for a real taste of Chicago.
Chicago-based Portillo's, which was started in a small trailer by Dick Portillo in 1963, now has 45 locations in the Chicago area. The local chain has won so many Silver Platter Rewards (the "Oscars" of the food industry) that Portillo's retired from competition for five years to give other restaurants a chance. In addition to its famous hot dogs, Portillo's also serves Italian beef, Maxwell Street Polish, ribs, burgers, salads and chicken sandwiches as well as its popular chocolate cake. Hot dogs and Italian beef can even be shipped anywhere in the United States, and catering is available. The Chicago location does have a large dining room with a 1930s and 1940s gangster motif, but it is often very crowded during lunch and dinner hours.
Portillo's 100 W. Ontario Chicago, IL 60654 312-587-8910 portillos.com
The nostalgic Superdawg, established in 1948, has served up Chicago-style hot dogs at the same location ever since. It is a classic 1940s drive-in updated with bright neon-lit canopies, a clear speaker system for easy ordering and an indoor dining room. Two giant hot dog figures on the rooftop signify that you are at the right place. The signature beef Superdawg is served on a poppy-seed bun with all the trimmings, but not ketchup, which is common for a Chicago-style hot dog. Superdawg also features a variety of other appropriately named menu items, including the Whoopskidawg (Polish sausage), Superchic (chicken breast sandwich), Superburger and Supersteak sandwiches, all served with Superfries. Superdawg's menu also includes fountain items such as shakes and malts. Catering is available.
Superdawg 6363 N. Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60646 773-763-0660 superdawg.com
Hot Doug's is a unique and very popular hot dog joint that has people lining up from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. In addition to a traditional Chicago-style dog, menu offerings include hot dogs and various other sausages named after celebrities such as Salma Hayek (very hot andouille sausage) or Keira Knightley (a spicy "fire dog"). Hot Doug's also features a different game sausage each week. French fries are fresh cut and can be topped with cheese, and on Fridays and Saturdays, you can even try an order of duck fat fries.
Hot Doug's 3324 N. California Chicago, IL 60618 773-279-9550 hotdougs.com
The Wiener's Circle is just as famous for the mutual verbal abuse between employees and customers as it is for its signature fully loaded Chicago-style hot dogs. The small stand also serves up hamburgers and fresh-cut fries topped with cheddar. On the weekends, Wiener's Circle stays open very late, attracting many guests who have just come from area bars and clubs, and often making the welcome employee/customer banter even more entertaining.
Wiener's Circle 2622 N. Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614 773-477-7444