Hot dogs are a Chicago tradition. We're very serious about the way they're prepared, the type of dog used, how the buns are steamed, and the fact that there absolutely cannot be any ketchup! For Chicagoans, a good dog is a point of pride. We have favorite hot dog stands that are part of our neighborhoods. We'll try new ones but always hold a soft spot for our favorites.
Hot dogs have a long history here. The Red hot is made with beef (look for Vienna). Even the toppings are a Chicago specialty. For instance, hot dogs became popular back during the depression. It was called a depression sandwich. And the whole reason people didn't use ketchup is that ketchup was used to cover the taste of meat going bad. It was a statement that the meat was of good quality. Our traditional toppings of relish, onion, celery salt, mustard, pickle, sport peppers, and tomato - that was likely a combination developed from a lot of different chefs.
People outside of Chicago might not understand our obsession. But that's usually because they've never had a real Chicago dog. It tastes like summer and baseball and all the good things you want out of comfort food. If you're looking for a great Chicago hot dog, try one of the stands on our list. Or purchase a GiftYa card to treat one of your friends!
Gene & Jude's is in River Grove, just outside of the city. But they have a killer dog that makes all of the top hot dog stand lists in Chicago. They serve the traditional dog, and they put their fries right inside the dog itself. You can take them out or eat the dog fully loaded.
Gene & Jude's gets a lot of attention and has visitors from all over the country. It's really an unassuming little stand. But it's clean and the service is fast, even though they often have long lines. They've been written about and talked about and there's a reason for that. The ingredients are fresh and the dogs are good. They have a full menu and fresh-cut fries. True fans will tell you that this is the hot dog to measure all others by. It makes one of the top spots for many Chicago hot dog lovers.
Maxwell Street is a Chicago staple. People have been coming here at all hours of the day or night for their famous polish or pork chop sandwiches. But you can also count on a fantastic hot dog. Made the traditional way, in the heart of the city. If you're in the area, definitely stop for one. A lot of people drive in from the suburbs just to get that original flavor.
A lot of people come here specifically for the polish sandwich. You'll also notice that it's a bit of a drinker's tradition to come to Maxwell Street after a night of partying. It's a 24-hour hot dog stand, that's one of the crowds they cater to! It's a right of passage for any 20 something Chicagoan. The food is good and always at a fair price. You can't go wrong here.
Portillo's has locations all over the city and suburbs. Even far out in college towns, like Normal, Illinois. It is a chain, but the ingredients are good and people love their beef sandwiches, decadent chocolate cake, and hot dogs. Their dogs are also made the traditional way. They use Vienna beef, traditional toppings, steamed bun, and great fries.
Portillo's was founded as a hot dog stand back in the 60s. It has a full menu and adds new items all the time, but they still serve hot dogs the way they did back when it was one small restaurant. You'll get the same level of service in a larger place with better seating. Plus, you can choose from a very large menu. But we highly recommend the dogs. At least get one. You won't be disappointed.
Superdawg Drive-In is a Chicago landmark. This place has been in business for a long time and they serve each customer with the same care they have for years. It's an actual drive-in. You can pull up and have your food brought out to your car, just like they used to do in the 50s and 60s. You can also go inside or in nicer weather, sit out at the picnic benches nearby.
There's a great old-time feel to the place. The hot dogs are delicious, the staff is friendly, and nearly everything is super-sized. It's a great treat. Superdawg is a little pricier than some other hot dog stands but still reasonable. And the quality of all of the food is very high. Definitely a good place to check out.
Byron's hot dogs are always fantastic. Sometimes a little messy but always delicious. This is a regular hot dog stand with no fancy stuff and no gimmicks. But the food is great. We're talking about hot dogs here (top-notch), but you can also get an amazing burger or any other item on the menu. Dogs are made the traditional way, with all the fixings.
Most people love their milkshakes. So if you're a huge milkshake fan and want a great hot dog, you can't miss with Byron's.
The great thing about Wolfy's is that you get a choice in the way that they cook their all-beef hotdog. You can opt for steamed or charred. Try the charred. Honestly, it's a little out of the ordinary for the Chicago dog, but it's truly delicious. They serve their jumbo charred with all of the fixings. Have them run it through the garden.
Most people comment on Wolfy's sign - a huge fork with a hot dog that you can't miss. It's a standard hot dog stand, with the menu you might expect in Chicago. Burgers, hot dogs, fries, and gyros. Everything here is good. Try it all.
Chicago's Dog House is a newer establishment that offers a bit of a different take on the Chicago Hot Dog. It opened in 2009 and their menu gives you a gourmet spin on hot dogs. This might be right up your alley if you want to try something new. For the health-conscious, they have veggie and turkey dogs to hit the spot without going off your diet. You don't come here for a traditional dog, you come for something out of the ordinary and they don't disappoint. You can find a wide variety of new tastes, hot dogs made from different types of meats and topped in truly surprising ways.
If you like fusion food, this might be the place for you. Chicago's Dog House is a bit pricier than most hot dog stands, but most hot dog stands aren't serving gourmet food.
Redhot Ranch is a neighborhood staple on the south side. They give you plenty of fries and the hot dogs are delicious. We should mention that the fries are fresh cut and everything here uses fresh ingredients. You should also try the burger, it's one of the best in the entire city. It's a clean place with the typical hot dog stand menu. Friendly service, excellent prices. If you're looking for the typical Chicago hot dog stand with all of our favorite classics, Redhot Ranch is a great place to get all of that.
They are a cash-only establishment but they have an ATM on-premise if you forget to stop for cash.
Fatso's Last Stand is everything the name tells you it is. They started with a classic and high-quality hot dog stand but added everything you could think of that the Chicago fast-food lover might want. Always fresh ingredients, great friendly service, and massive, massive portions.
Don't miss their hot dogs, they are the classic Chicago dog and they're made fresh to order. They also have double dogs, burgers, mac and cheese, you name it. They have a wide menu of things you would expect and some things that will surprise you. It's always messy, which is the true test of a great dog stand. Try something new but definitely get a charred dog if you're there. You won't be disappointed. If you're coming from the bar scene, this is a fantastic place to fill your stomach to stave off the next day's hangover.