3 comments

The Dog Joint

350 W. Armitage | 773-687-9573

$

AMERICAN, BURGERS | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | Open late: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 4

New hot dog stand also offering burgers, Italian beef, and skin-on french fries. While it normally closes at 8 PM Sunday through Thursday, it stays open till 11 PM on nights when there's a show at the nearby Park West. Cash only, with an ATM on the premises.

Drew's Eatery

2207 W. Montrose | 773-463-7397

$

AMERICAN, ice cream, VEGETARIAN/HEALTHY | LUNCH, DINNER: SUNDAY, TUESDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED MONDAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Location, location, location. This little organic hot dog and ice cream shop across from Welles Park may not seem like much, but with its kid-friendly menu of sausages and well-pedigreed sweets, traffic is all but guaranteed. The dogs themselves come in pork, two different combos of chicken and turkey (one with red pepper and jalapeño, the other spinach and feta), and classic nitrite-free beef; there are also vegan versions of a Polish and an Italian sausage. While they're not chargrilled, they've got a clean, snappy flavor and are refreshingly free of grease. Cookies and pastries are parbaked by Sweet Dreams Organic Bakery in Glenview and finished on-site; there's also terrific all-natural ice cream and Chicago Soy Dairy vegan frozen treats. Owner Andrew Baker carries through on his commitment to sustainability with furnishings as green as they come, all the way down to the biodegradable cornstarch takeout containers. —Martha Bayne

Express Grill

1260 S. Union | 312-738-2112

$

AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: 24 HOURS EVERY DAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Squaring off against feuding family members at neighboring Jim's Original, Express Grill (with the word original prominently plastered all over their new, very similar building) serves up a somewhat smaller lineup of items starring the smoked Polish sausage and its almost indistinguishable though slightly less garlicky twin, the beef sausage. Vienna dogs are 75 percent bull meat, and ground-up is really the only way this tough though flavorful flesh can be consumed; here, relish is added to the standard condiment combo of mustard and onions, making for one sweet wiener. Any sandwich order gets you a "free" bag of fries, leaving you enough spare coin to purchase some bootleg CDs or tube socks from the sidewalk entrepreneurs set up by the serving windows. —David Hammond

Felony Franks

229 S. Western | 312-243-0505

$

AMERICAN, BURGERS | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Owner Jim Andrews struck a rich vein of publicity when community members—including his alderman—objected to his irreverent approach of employing ex-offenders serving Chain Gang Chili Dogs, Paroled Pizza Puffs, and Probation Burgers. Still, how can you talk smack on a hot dog stand that exists to put ex-cons back to meaningful work and turn their lives around? Well, here goes: the skinless Chicago's Finest brand beef Misdemeanor Wieners are insipid, and the jokes about incarceration that festoon the walls and menu are offensive only in their criminal corniness. Andrews may set high standards for his employees, but his sorry tube steaks, dense industrial-grade burger pucks, and underseasoned meatball subs are every bit as institutional as Nutraloaf. Even the hand-cut fries—which looked great but were clearly underfried and held until soggy—are a sad case of wasted potential. But among the wide array of fast-food standards, there are some redeeming items: the superthin-cut Petty Pork Chop Sandwich, heavily seasoned with pepper and oregano, distinguishes itself, and the $2.25 Alias Chili Tamale is immersed in a generous cup of beany, beefy chili that would only requires a dash or two of hot sauce to make make it a high-value target for a west-side lunch deal. And again, sincethere's no such thing as bad publicity—not even when Bill O'Reilly names you his "Wednesday Patriot"—Felony Franks seems likely to thrive and multiply. —Mike Sula

Gene & Jude's

2720 River Rd., River Grove | 708-452-7634

$

AMERICAN | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 2, SUNDAY-THURSDAY TILL 1 | reservations not accepted

A Gene & Jude's hot dog, like a Cezanne painting, represents the apotheosis of a form, inessentials stripped away, almost the Platonic ideal of the hot dog. No tomato, and you don't dare ask for ketchup. What you get at this middle-American icon is a perfectly warmed wiener with world-class snap, nestled in a steamed bun and layered with mustard, relish, onion, sport peppers (if you want 'em), and fries. That's right: the fries, fresh cut with a hand-operated mechanism straight out of the Eisenhower administration, are laid gently on top of the dog, creating a steamy union of dog and fry that miraculously benefits both. There's always a long line of hungry hot-dog freaks, and it's always standing room only in this bright yellow-lit room, lined with a white wooden shelf bearing industrial-strength salt shakers (made of glass jars with holes hand-punched in the top). The locals consider this stand a national treasure, and when you bite into one of Gene & Jude's franks, you'll see why. Don't be shy about ordering more than one: I've seen big guys order a six-pack to go (which usually means no further than the truck). —David Hammond

Hot Doug's

3324 N. California | 773-279-9550

$

AMERICAN | LUNCH: MONDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED SUNDAY | BYO | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Most afternoons people line out the door of Doug Sohn's wildly successful emporium, willing to wait for the Crown Prince of Tube Steak's Polishes, brats, Thuringers, andouille, and Chicago-style dogs, dressed and cooked to customer preference—whether char-grilled, deep-fried, steamed, or fried then grilled. There are daily gourmet specials with silly names and a "game of the week" sausage—gator, boar, rattlesnake, rabbit, duck, kangaroo, or duck sausage with foie gras. Fridays and Saturdays fresh-cut fries are cooked in duck fat, and the only request Sohn will refuse is to smother them in cheese sauce. Sohn has duplicated the goofy decor of his previous place, the victim of a fire; the newer spot is chockablock with Elvibilia and hot-dog-related kitsch, and there's outdoor seating and plenty of street parking. Note: Hot Doug's will be closed for vacation this month from October 3-20. —Mike Sula

Jim's Original

1250 S. Union | 312-733-7820

$

AMERICAN | BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: 24 HOURS EVERY DAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

Jim Stefanovic—whose family fled the Russian Revolution and wound up working at a Maxwell Street hot dog stand in the late 30s—is said by some to have invented the Maxwell Street Polish sausage sandwich. Located blocks from the now painfully gentrified old market location, Jim's Original serves a dandy dog that pops with griddled onions and a splash of standard dog-stand mustard, condiments added to all the sandwiches here, including a respectable fish sammie. Jim's pork chop sandwich is an excellent rendition of the workingman's classic; to eat, grip the bone through the bun and nibble gingerly all around. You'll be entertained by the street-smart efficiency of the crew, cracking wise about their "secret seasonings" and the failings of nearby Express Grill (owned by a Stefanovic relative). There's an allure in the gritty vibe of this place after dark, when it's washed in sweaty yellow light, serving people who pull up in their cars for a quick snack a la trunka. —David Hammond

Morrie O'Malley's Hot Dogs

3501 S. Union | 773-247-2700

$

AMERICAN | LUNCH, DINNER: MONDAY-SATURDAY | CLOSED SUNDAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

I was sitting outside of the Bridgeport hot dog stand Morrie O'Malleys on a summer night, grilled onions dripping off my char-grilled brat, and the TV inside was of course tuned to a White Sox game. "That one's outta there!" crowed Hawk, as fireworks filled the night sky above. In celebration, I got some chili-cheese fries, the fries somehow crisp under the weight of their toppings. Morrie's, higher quality and less greasy than your average hot dog stand, specializes in char-grilled meat—hot dogs, brats, Polishes, burgers, and steak. The stand's hot dogs and Polishes come with mustard, relish, chopped onion, sport peppers, a kosher dill pickle spear, a cucumber spear, tomato slice, and celery salt on a poppy seed bun. Finish off with a malt or a brownie sundae and you'll have to roll yourself to the game. —Katie Buitrago

Superdawg

6363 N. Milwaukee | 773-763-0660

$

AMERICAN | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: FRIDAY & SATURDAY TILL 2, OTHER NIGHTS TILL 1 | reservations not accepted

From the time you spot Tarzan-clad Superdawg and his coy wienie sweetie towering over Milwaukee Avenue to the moment you beckon a carhop with the flip of a switch, you know you're at a tailfin-era original the likes of which Ed Debevic's or Chevy's can only dream of being. The Superdawg itself is one of Chicago's outstanding hot dogs, an oversize garlicky natural-casing wienie as plump as a 50s starlet. The Superburger—a thin patty fried to a crispy crust and dotted with tiny diced onions—might be even better. Both "lounge contentedly," as the charmingly corny restaurant copy has it, in crinkle-cut fries; accompaniments include pickles and pickled green tomatoes (though not, on the dogs, ketchup). Spoon-thick shakes round out the four food groups. Superdawg has a walk-up window and a few outdoor tables, but there's no substitute for eating in your car, just because this is America and you can. —Michael Gebert

Vienna Beef Factory Store & Deli

2501 N. Damen | 773-235-6652

$

AMERICAN | BREAKFAST: MONDAY-FRIDAY; LUNCH: MONDAY-SATURDAY | reservations not accepted

Although diners can't actually watch hot dogs being made—which may be a good thing—just sitting so close to the action sets this no-frills cafeteria apart from other Vienna Beef vendors. Grab a tray and follow the endless silver-tube track past vats of homemade soups, every kind of deli sandwich, and yummy cake slices. Eat inside to check out the company posters or people watch, or head outside to the handful of logo-umbrellaed tables overlooking the parking lot. Don't leave without stocking up at the company store, where corn dogs go by the dozen, beef brisket comes prepackaged, and dented cakes are sometimes discounted. —Jenny B. Davis

Wiener and Still Champion

802 Dempster, Evanston | 847-869-0100

$

AMERICAN, BURGERS | LUNCH: SEVEN DAYS; DINNER: MONDAY-SATURDAY | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

In a city blessed with so many Vienna Beef hot dog stands, Wiener and Still Champion stands out, both for its attention to detail and its creativity. The fresh burgers and Chicago hot dogs are among the best of their kind, but it's the more unique offerings that make the trip to this unprepossessing storefront truly worthwhile. The signature item is the Dippin' Dog, a corn dog handmade to order; a flavorful tube steak surrounded by a slightly sweet, crisp cornmeal batter. A large number of dipping sauces—including Argentine herb, garlic aioli, and curry ketchup, among others—go well with the Dippin' Dogs, as well as the hand-cut, double-fried skin-on french fries. And Wiener and Still Champion also offers some of the best country-fried bacon you'll find anywhere. If the owner, Gus, is in the house (as is usually the case) ask him about any off-menu items he may be working on—you're likely to be pleasantly, greasily surprised. —Tom Keith

The Wiener's Circle

2622 N. Clark | 773-477-7444

$

AMERICAN | LUNCH, DINNER: SEVEN DAYS | OPEN LATE: SATURDAY TILL 6, FRIDAY TILL 5, SUNDAY-THURSDAY TILL 4 | RESERVATIONS NOT ACCEPTED

The raucous scene at this late-night stand has impressed the likes of Tom Waits, who at his last concert appearance in town confessed that when, on a return visit to Wiener's Circle, he was not insulted by the sassy, famously foulmouthed counter ladies he felt almost hurt. Estimates of the food vary depending on time of day and degree of drunkenness, but plenty of Chicagoans have a thing for the Vienna Beef hot dogs, served charred or boiled with all the classic fixin's, and the cheese fries, hand-cut and topped with orange goo. The shakes and burgers are also pretty decent, but most just come for the sideshow. —Kate Schmidt

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment
 

Add a comment