If this is your first visit to Chicago, then chances are you haven't had a Chicago-style hot dog. We're talk the loaded style that's rarely found outside of the Windy City. So for newbies, here's a primer on "the classic": a steamed all-beef hot dog nestled on a poppyseed bun and topped with mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and a good shake of celery salt.
While you'll find variations on this - Depression Dogs add mustard, relish, chopped onion, sport peppers, and fries, while a char dog swaps the steamed hot dog for a charred one - "the classic" is the style you'll see most frequently around the city. So if you're looking for an authentic, Chicago-style dog, check out "the classic" at one (or all) of these iconic area hot dog joints.
Allium (120 E. Delaware Pl.)
Yes, Allium is in the Four Seasons. But don't let the lux surroundings fool you - chef Kevin Hickey makes one of the best hot dogs in the city. Every ingredient is made in house, and condiments come on the side, so you can dress the dog to your liking. The hot dog is big, beefy, and juicy, and the delicious housemade condiments mean you can make it as spicy or simple as you like.
Hot Doug's (3324 N. California Ave.)
Hot Doug's gets attention for the off-the-wall sausages, but the classic dog is an underrated gem. Doug subs in sautéed onions for the chopped raw onions, which makes the dog a little sweeter, and the whole combination just tastes fresh and thoughtful. Plus, it's small enough that you can get one along with another sausage.
Portillo's (various locations)
There are numerous Portillo's locations in Illinois, plus a couple out of state, but it's easily one of the best versions of the Chicago dog I've had. Vienna Beef makes a special hot dog for Portillo's that's really juicy, and the veggies topping the dog are so fresh you almost think you're eating a salad. Almost-there is a hot dog in here, after all.
Gene's & Jude's (2720 River Rd., River Grove)
The iconic River Grove stand has been in business since 1946 and is consistently ranked as one of the best hot dogs in the country. Gene's and Jude's uses Vienna dogs, then tops then with mustard, onions, relish, and peppers, plus fresh-fried potatoes.
Kim and Carlos Hot Dog Stand (1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.)
If you're in town to hit up some of the museums, stop to have lunch at Kim and Carlos. Located in front of the Field Museum, the cart serves a classic Chicago-style hot dog, with mustard, onion, relish, tomato, sport pepper, celery salt, and dill pickle spear. Plus, you can get it all on a vegan dog.
Poag Mahone's (333 S. Wells St.)
Mac and Cheese Day is during the National Hotdog Month. July, you're wayyy too good to us. Poag Mahone's is celebrating by including a side of mac and cheese baked with cheddar, parmesan and blue cheese with every hot dog order. The promotion runs July 15 - August 15, and we highly suggest you try the San Francisco Dog topped with crispy bacon, shredded lettuce, mayo and tomato relish.
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