Best Chicago hot dog stands: hot dogs, fries and more
From Chicago dogs to perfectly crisp fries, here are the best Chicago hot dog stands—just hold the ketchup.
Chicagoans take hot dogs very seriously and for good reason—we know how we like them and we make them well. Whether you're looking for a Chicago dog with all the toppings (minus ketchup, of course) and a side of French fries, head to Gene and Jude's or Superdawg. For crazy inventive sausages like buffalo chicken and foie gras, head to Hot Doug's or Franks 'N' Dawgs. For fry-topped Depression dogs, Red Hot Ranch is your stand. These are the best Chicago hot dog stands.
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Franks 'N' Dawgs Alexander Brunacci opened this highfalutin hot-dog joint with chef Joe Doren, a fine-dining refugee. Together, they’re changing the gourmet hot-dog game. The regular dogs are Boar’s Head, but the housemade sausages are where it’s at: The Tur-Dawgen is the juiciest turkey sausage imaginable; the lamb keema, a subcontinental combination of ground meat, curry and peas, is packed with aromatic flavor. And yet the best part of all is the lobster-roll-style buns, baked locally by Nicole Bergere (of Nicole’s Divine Crackers). The things are so buttery and golden, you may not notice the sausages they cradle. 1863 N Clybourn Ave (312-281-5187, franksndawgs.com). Lunch, dinner (closed Mon). Average hot dog: $7.
Gene & Jude's Red Hot Stand Do not ask for ketchup when you order one of the legendary slender, snappy hot dogs that come topped with a fistful of fries at this standing room only institution that’s been serving ’em up since 1951. The surly types behind the counter don’t go for sissy stuff like that. Claim your place at the end of the perpetually long line and entertain yourself by watching potatoes being cut and fried into perfect greasy strips while you wait. Once it’s your turn, order your dog with everything, then count your blessings for the wax paper-wrapped bliss that lies before you. 2720 N River Rd (708-452-7634, geneandjudes.com). Lunch, dinner. Single dog and fries: $2.50.
Hot Doug’s Doug Sohn’s homage to encased meat is packed with suits, students and blue-collar lunch-breakers, all of whom wait in longer-than-long lines and put up with limited hours to get classic Chicago dogs and brats served with Doug’s untouchable flair for flavor. Doug has veggie dogs for vegetarians, bagel dogs for kids and specialties like cranberry-and-cognac chicken sausage for high-brow hot-doggers. But his famous fries cooked in duck fat are only for his customers who come out on Fridays and Saturdays. 3324 N California Ave (773-279-9550, hotdougs.com). Lunch (closed Sun). Average dog: $2.50.
Phil's Last Stand This “last stand” of local blogger/food enthusiast “Chicago Fat Phil” serves Fatsos (burgers) and Welch’s grape juice (?) until 4am on weekends, in a room where the main decor element is hundreds of the stand’s business cards glued to a wall. Though this place is new, it has the soul of a classic, and anything that goes in a fryer—crispy-on-the-outside french fries, sweet shrimp coated with crunchy panko-like breading—comes out damn near perfect. 2258 W Chicago Ave (773-245-3287, philslaststand.com). Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Average main course: $4.
Redhot Ranch Sometimes you’ll see a couple of locals stroll up to the counter and try to place an order here. “Got burgers?” they’ll ask. “Tacos?” The answer is nope and nope. Whatever used to inhabit this stand-alone shack on Western clearly excelled in variety, but the current dive, Redhot Ranch, is taking a different tactic: minimal selection, flawless execution. Juicy Depression dogs are served with fresh-cut fries that are crisp on the outside and pillowy inside; shrimp, available by the half or full pound, are entirely greaseless. And it's all served until 4am during the week and 5am on weekends. 2072 N Western Ave (773-772-6020). Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $3.
Superdawg Drive-In Despite a renovation in 1999, this hot-dog drive-in is still as old-fashioned as ever, with uniformed servers bringing your order directly to your car window. Apparently scared of copycats, the owners have trademarked almost every dish, the main draw being the “Superdawg,” an all-beef frank so plump it’s hard to remove it from its cartoon-covered box. After a meal of hot dogs, fries, burgers (try the delicious, double-decker “Whoopercheesie”) and “Supershakes” (actually not very super), expect to literally roll yourself home. 6363 N Milwaukee Ave (773-763-0660, superdawg.com). Sun–Thu 11am–1am; Fri, Sat 11am–2am. Average main course: $8.
The Wiener's Circle The sassy hot-dog girls behind the counter at this classic roadside shack have had enough of drunk yuppies' crap. Enough so that they’ve developed their own brand of smack-talking that’s now synonymous with a late-night dog run here. Get your Chicago red hot with the traditional fixings—mustard, onion, neon-green relish, pickle spear, tomato, celery salt and sport peppers—an order of thick-cut fries and a big, fat lemonade. 2622 N Clark St (773-477-7444). Sun–Thu 10:30am–4am; Fri, Sat 10:30am–5am. Average hot dog: $2.50.