A “Frank” Guide to this Iconic Chicago Food

If you think Chicago's skyscraper architecture is exciting, you'll love how Chicago-style hot dogs are built


First there's the foundation of a warm poppy seed bun. Next comes the all-beef hot dog with a delectable snap when you bite into it. Finally, a combination of colorful condiments: yellow mustard, fresh chopped onions, neon-green relish, red tomato slices, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers and a light finishing touch of celery salt. Flavorful and filling, you'll find the best Chicago hot dogs at tiny take-away stands, old-time drive-ins and countless places where the service is as colorful as the toppings.

Hot Dogs With a Side of Sightseeing

Jazz up your visit to the city's natural history museums with a stop at the tiny, shiny-chrome hot dog stand between the Field Museum and the entrance to the Shedd Aquarium. There aren't any tables at Kim and Carlo's Hotdog Cart, but you can enjoy the authentic Chicago-style dogs with an amazing view of the Chicago skyline. Grab a bag of chips and a soda to round out the meal. Vegetarians can enjoy a dog here, too, as veggie franks are always available. The stand is closed in winter, but reopens as soon as the weather warms up in spring through late autumn.

Best Baseball Game Day Hot Dogs

Sure, you can get ordinary hot dogs from the concession stands inside Chicago's baseball stadiums. But why wait? Fuel up before the first pitch at Wrigley Field at Murphy's Red Hots (1211 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago), a few blocks from the stadium. A neighborhood institution since the 1980s, the dining area is tiny, but welcoming. The coolest pre-game hot dogs near Guaranteed Rate Field—where the White Sox play—are at 35th Street Red Hots (500 W. 35th St., Chicago). There's little seating available, but the minimalist version of Chicago dogs is worth standing for. It's topped with only mustard, relish, a little onion and a couple of sport peppers, along with a side of hand-cut fries.

Best Chicago Hot Dog for Rowdy Fun

From the outside, Wiener's Circle (2622 N. Clark St., Chicago) looks like an ordinary hot dog stand, albeit usually with long lines. Inside, though, it's famous for the insults the servers hurl at customers, especially if they're not ready to promptly place their order. Despite the chipped paint, worn floors and incredibly crowded counter, it's become a favorite hangout for college students who want late-night dogs after hours of partying. The Wiener's Circle has even been featured on late night comedy TV. Bringing kids here isn't recommended, but if you're hungry for a plump, juicy hot dog with all the fixin's and a side of colorful language, this is the best of Chicago hot dog places.

Best Hot Dogs in Chicago Suburban Drive-Ins

You can't miss the two giant, well-dressed wieners standing atop the Superdawg Drive-In (6363 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago). The neon lights and 1950s architecture welcome you to the good old-fashioned atmosphere of a suburban drive-in. Accompany your beautifully built Chicago-style hot dog and fries with something sweet from the fountain: malts, shakes or an ice-cream sundae.

The big hot dog speared on a fork with shining bright lights is the sign you've found your way to Wolfy's (2734 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago). A throwback to the '60s, Wolfy's receives continued acclaim as a top spot for hot dogs well into the 21st century. Try the double dog for an extra helping of all-beef flavor and snap.

Charred to Perfection

In West Chicago's Ukrainian Village, hot grills put the sizzle on hot dogs served at Fatso's Last Stand (2258 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago). The all-beef franks get a swirl cut and cross-hatches at each end so they swell like a blooming flower over the flame. Ketchup is frowned on at most hot dog stands—and you're likely to get raised eyebrows if you ask for it at Fatso's unless you're a kid. Grilled hamburgers, mac and cheese and fried shrimp are also on the menu. Fatso's stays open until the wee hours and even later on Friday and Saturday when it serves up the Chicago dogs until 4:00 a.m. for post-party snacking.

Fame, Acclaim and Standing Room Only

When the Illinois Department of Tourism awarded its first Delicious Destination award, Chicago area residents weren't at all surprised that it went to Gene & Jude's (2720 N. River Rd., River Grove). After all, the family-owned business has been a neighborhood favorite since the 1940s. You won't find white linens or fancy cutlery at the old-fashioned hot dog stand. Just like the celebrity chefs and foodies who make the trek to the suburbs for these famous hot dogs and hand-cut fries, you'll have to place your order at the window and stand outside to eat. The stand's other claim to fame is its tamales—add one to your order for an extra kick of flavor and fulfillment.

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