Chicagoans take hot dogs very seriously, and for good reason—we know how we like our hot dogs in Chicago and we make them well. And these Chicago restaurants are doing it best of all.
Do not ask for ketchup when you order one of the legendary slender, snappy hot dogs that come topped with a fistful of fries at this standing room only institution that’s been serving ’em up since 1951. The surly types behind the counter don’t go for sissy stuff like that. Claim your place at the end of the perpetually long line and entertain yourself by watching potatoes being cut and fried into perfect greasy strips while you wait. Once it’s your turn, order your dog with everything, then count your blessings for the wax paper–wrapped bliss that lies before you.
This über-efficient local chain, begun in Villa Park in 1963, is mostly found in the suburbs. But at the two city Portillo’s, in River North and South Loop, out-of-towners flock in search of an authentic Chicago dog. The thick, nicely juicy dog comes on a poppy seed bun steamed to perfect softness and with a generous helping of thick-cut tomatoes, onions and a hefty pickle slice.
For a Chicago dog that’s as by the books as it can be, look no further than Chicago’s Dog House. The heart of this Lincoln Park shop serves up all the classics and a few dogs with cheeky names (the Blagojevich dog—a Chicago dog with added ketchup, and the Tourist—a plain hot dog with ketchup). There’s specialty and gourmet hot dogs a la the infamous, now closed Hot Doug’s (but not quite), but it’s a perfect standby if you haven’t made it to one of Dog Sohn’s pop-ups.
Cure lunchtime Loop woes with U.B. Dogs, a no-frills hot dog and burger joint with crispy and salty house fries. The lines get long around lunch, but with a sunny little sidewalk patio and snappy Chicago dogs and Maxwell Polishes, grabbing lunch got a whole lot easier.