Few foods elicit such a passionate response in the people of Chicago as the hot dog. Go-to stops for a pre-game meal or late-night sanctuaries for the inebriated, hot dog vendors are protected with unwavering loyalty in Chicagoland.
Some so much so that they have cemented themselves in Chicago folklore and have appeared on TV shows like Weiners Circle while others like Portillo’s are known across the country. It might now be considered a classic American snack, but it’s a full meal in Chicago, the sausage capital of the United States, and you’ll bet with dogma in Chicago if you think otherwise.
The boiled all-beef frankfurter is most commonly served on a steamed poppy seed bun packed with seven ingredients that make up the ‘dragged through the garden’ dog: yellow mustard, green relish, chopped white onion, a kosher pickle spear, tomatoes, sports peppers, and a dusting of celery salt.
Whether you’re a seasoned local or visiting the Windy City and hoping to sample one of its most famous snacks, here’s where to find the best hot dogs in Chicago.
1. Superdawg Drive-In
Superdawg Drive-In is one of Chicago’s most iconic hot dog vendors and an architectural landmark with its giant anthropomorphic hot dogs on the roof and distinctive neon kitsch design. It’s also home to one of the most distinctive hot dogs in the city though those at Superdawg might tell you it’s more than a hot dog in a realm of its own.
The dogs are extra-large. So large that while other hot dog vendors bulk-buy traditional poppy seed buns, Superdawg has to have custom buns made specially to hold the Superdawg. These dogs also come with green pickles, tomatoes, bright green relish, and without celery salt. They’re also topped with housemade crinkle-cut fries. All of which is packed into a cartoon-covered box and brought to your car by uniformed servers. Both the dog and the service are phenomenal.
📍 6363 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago
📍333 S. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling
2. Gene & Jude’s
Though not strictly in Chicago, many Chicagoans will tell you that Gene & Jude’s is the magnum opus of hot dogs and worth the short trip to River Grove. You’ll find the ‘depression dog‘ here as opposed to a ‘dragged through the garden’ dog. The hot dogs come in a bun without poppy seeds, layered with mustard, brown relish, onions, and sports peppers, then topped with a fistful of hand-cut in-house fries.
While you’ll be charmed by the service at Superdawg Drive-In, Gene & Jude’s is more of a brusque, no-nonsense establishment. So much so that if you enter Gene & Jude’s website, you’ll be greeted with their giant capitalized slogan that reads “NO SEATS. NO KETCHUP. NO PRETENSE. NO NONSENSE. AMERICA’S #1 HOT DOG.”
Entering the unassuming North River Grove hot dog vendor, you’ll find none of the other mascots, signage, or frills synonymous with other Chicago hot dog joints. Gene and Jude offer a frank, straightforward hot dog experience that is demonstratively championed by many Chicagoans.
📍2720 N. River Road, River Grove
3. Redhot Ranch
Another place that sells a juicy depression dog is Redhot Ranch. Redhot Ranch has you covered if you’re all about simplicity, efficiency, and affordability while wanting an exceptional hot dog experience.
Despite having only opened in 2005, being on this list is a testament to the hot dog stand’s meteoric rise. Though in recent years, the Redhot Ranch Burger has become a staple and is noted as one of the best hot dogs in Chicago. A Redhot Ranch ‘depression dog’ comes served with mustard, relish, sport peppers, and onions with a side of fries and will cost you just $4.29.
📍 2449 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
📍3057 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
📍500 W 35th St. Chicago
4. Fat Johnnie’s
Fat Johnnie’s off of Western between 72nd and 73rd is undoubtedly one of the city’s many iconic hot dogs stands. It’s important not to judge a book by its cover here, as the little shack on Western Avenue is far from any flashy establishment. Nonetheless, it’s an essential visit for any Chicagoan or hot dog fan and will forever be cemented in Chicago history.
If you’re a purist, you may just be offended by the popular hot dog and tamale combos known as the Mother-in-Law and the Mighty Dog, but after a bite of anything from here, you can bet your bottom dollar; you’ll be grateful you came. Prices range from a Red Hot at $2.50 to a Might Dog at $5, in all cases, you’ll leave questioning what kind of magic happens inside this humble little streetside shack. Given its nature, there is nowhere to dine here, but you can eat at a picnic bench in the adjacent vacant lot, wolf it down in the car, or perch anywhere you see fit.
📍7242 S Western Ave, Chicago
5. Jimmy’s Red Hots
In Humbolt Park, you’ll come across Jimmy’s Red Hots. A fixture on the West Side for over 65 years, the family-owned and operated hot dog stand is the longest-standing hot dog stand in Chicago.
It has been selling tasty Vienna Beef hot dogs on steamed buns accompanied by a handful of fresh-cut greasy fries since 1954. There are few places you’ll find more of a quintessential Chicago experience than Jimmy’s in Humbolt Park when it comes to hot dogs.
📍4000 W Grand Ave, Chicago
6. Fatso’s Last Stand
Formerly Phil’s Last Stand, Fatso’s is a beloved Ukrainian Village hot dog stand and another reliable joint for all snacks that has become a sanctuary for Ukrainian Village residents at all hours of the day. The impressively tasty Chicago hot dog here is “always charred and never steamed” but served Chicago style with mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, sports peppers, and celery salt.
Notably, Fatso’s Last Stand is also billed as having one of the best burgers in the city and one of the best hot dogs in Chicago. Oh, and it has world-class shakes too, but we’re here for the hot dogs, and we promise you won’t be let down by a Char Dog With Fries that costs only5.00
📍 2258 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
📍1982 N. Clybourn Ave, Chicago
Serving up Chicago-style hot dogs on the North Side since ’67, Wolfy’s is another place you’ll find perfectly charred dogs and ’60s-era frills. The Wolfy’s impaled hot dog on a sparkling fork sign is an unmissable part of the fabric of Peterson Avenue. It encapsulates all it means to be a prestigious Chicago hot dog joint: heritage, history, and reliability.
Everything about an experience at Wolfy’s is a delight. The establishment is always clean, the staff is extra friendly, and the hot dog is exceptional. While a hot dog here will cost you only $2.99, we recommend the Jumbo Dog at $4.99 for the real deal.
📍 2734 W. Peterson Ave, Chicago,
8. Bryon’s Hot Dogs
Somewhere that has served the Obamas must be doing something right, right? Close to Wrigley Field, Byron’s is another no-frills hot dog stand that sells one of the city’s best and most authentic Chicago-style hot dogs.
Order everything on your hot dog, and you’ll be feasting on a sublime ‘dragged through the garden’ dog that shows you why it is worth sticking to the plan with the traditional assemblage of ingredients.
A Byron’s hot dog costs $4.42, while a Jumbo Dog will set you back a little extra at $5.75.
📍1017 W. Irving Park, Chicago
📍1701 W. Lawrence Avenue, Chicago
9. Henry’s Drive-In
Henry’s Drive-In requires a little trip to the suburbs in Cicero, but again, it is worth the effort.
A landmark on Route 66 at W. Ogden Avenue, Henry’s Drive-In has been serving adored hot dogs in Cicero since the ’50s. The “it’s a meal in itself” slogan is no lie. It sums up what you get here – a reliable hot dog with no shortcomings that never fails to leave you satisfied.
📍6031 W Ogden Ave, Cicero
10. The Wieners Circle
We can’t ignore a hot dog stand of such legendary status. For any hot dog enthusiast, Wieners Circle is somewhat of a rite of passage—a quintessential Chicago experience that’s both blissful and barbaric.
There must be very few hot dogs stands in Chicago and even around the world with the same fame as Wieners Circle, let alone any to have had its own reality TV show. The Lincoln Park restaurant and its beloved Chicago-style hot dogs have become a staple of the Windy City since opening in 1983, but its tongue-in-cheek barrage of abuse has gone a long way in boosting the stand’s infamy.
Rumor has it that one of the proprietors in the early 1990s called a drunk customer an “asshole” to get his attention, setting about a culture of late-night abuse between customers and staff. With the stand remaining open into the early hours, drunk customers have long gathered for some late-night food and a slice of the action.
Recently Wieners Circle has turned its parking lot into an 800-square-foot patio and added a bar serving alcohol as well as a basketball net and other exciting additions.
📍2622 N Clark St, Chicago
11. Flub A Dub Chub’s
This counter-service spot has a long list of hot dogs to choose from. The name of this restaurant comes from a children’s book, and the place is covered with colored drawings featuring a hot dog in every pop-culture reference you can think of. Thanos as a hot dog? You got it. A hot dog train? Sure.
Of course, if you’re in the mood for a classic Chicago-style hot dog, they have the Flubby. But for anyone wanting to go outside the Chicago staple, they have the Mr. Big, an 8″ Spicy Mike Ditka Polish Sausage with Grilled onions, sports peppers, and mustard, the Flubs Bratwurst, a bratwurst with grilled onions, Kraut, and brown mustard, the Flub B.L.T. Dog, bacon-wrapped hot dog, tomato, lettuce, spicy garlic, and an array of other ones to choose from.
Also, if you come on a Tuesday, they have the FlubTastic Tuesday special, a Chicago-style hot dog, and fries, all for $6.
📍3021 N Broadway, Chicago
With its history, efficiency, and popularity, we must include Chicago’s most famous fast-casual restaurant. After opening in 1963 as a small hot dog stand, Portillo’s has since flourished into a Midwestern treasure of national recognition.
Locals and tourists now flock to River North and the South Loop to taste the all-beef Vienna hot dogs at Portillo’s that have helped shoot the Chicago-style hot dog to fame. At Portillo’s, you’ll find a ‘dragged through the garden dog’ and a whole load of pictures of celebrities who have come to sample it. They now also serve plant-based hot dogs if you’re coming with anybody who is vegan or has dietary restrictions.
📍Multiple locations (Check out all Portillo locations here).