Spending a couple of days in Chicago this Summer, I obviously had to spend a day going on a hotdog safari, chasing the best dog in town.
1876 North Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
When we swung by George’s you could see an impressive collection of press clippings being voted the best in town or among the top dogs. However, I didn’t get that - a top dog. I got a mediocre Chicago-style hotdog with the classic Vienna frank. Not bad, but not memorable either, while it was cheap at $3,50 including a side of fries. A 3 out of 5 experience.
100 West Ontario St, IL 60654
Opening his first hotdog stand in 1963, Dick Portillo has a long Chicago history which has since developed into an impressive range of locations, stretching as far as California. And when we got there, the place was packed - usually a good sign.
I tried two of their dogs - their classic Chicago hotdog and the original Maxwell one, which is served with a polish sausage, mustard and fried onions. The chicago-style hotdog was good without impressing me. My expectations for the Maxwell dog were higher, but somehow the fried onions tasted bland. The sausage was still good and I rate Portillo’s 4 out of 5, overall.
1912 North Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
In truth Belly Shack isn’t a hotdog place, as they only have the Belly Dog on the menu - but good recommendations had our party swing by - and what a great move! The surprise dog of the trip, which is served with an all-beef frank, egg noodles, pickled green papaya, and a side of crispy togarashi spiced fries.
Although I missed a little kick from some mustard or chili, this is a brilliant hotdog blending different tastes and served with homemade quality ingredients - a definite 5 out of 5 hotdog!
2622 North Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614
From my first visit to Chicago, I already knew what to expect here and Wiener Circle did not disappoint! Yet another brilliant 5 out of 5 charbroiled Chicago-style dog. And if you think the profanities are fun during day-hours, come at night. I almost cried laughing.
Now, locals and hotdog conaisseurs will ask themselves: Why the hell isn’t Hot Doug’s on this list? Well I tried, but a 2-hour long line didn’t match my outbound flight, so it’s still on my must visit list - only it’s closing next month, so I’m out of luck on this one. Dammit. The good news is that Chicago has plenty of other good dogs to offer.