Best Places For Hot Dogs In Chicago

The Chicago-style hot dog's origins can be traced back to the 1930s. During the Great Depression, working-class Chicagoans needed a cheap, high-calorie meal. In fact, it's widely accepted that Fluky's, a now-defunct restaurant, created the first Chicago-styled hot dog, which featured mustard, pickle relish, onions, hot peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and a dill pickle. According to Block Club Chicago, the new hot dog style was called the "Depression Sandwich," and Chicago hasn't looked back since.

The modern Chicago-style hot dog hasn't changed too much over the years. Today, a Chicago dog typically features a wiener inside a poppy-seed bun with relish, onions, tomatoes, mustard, a pickle spear, peppers, and celery salt. Of course, you can customize your hot dog how you'd like, as long as you hold the ketchup. This bears repeating. Hot dogs in Chicago do not involve ketchup, so dance delicately when ordering. This is especially true if you're ordering at the five following establishments.

Vienna Beef Factory Store

We should've added that most — but not all — Chicago-style hot dogs feature Vienna Beef all-beef wieners, as they're the favorite of many hot dog aficionados. Started by Emil Reichel and Samuel Ladany, two Austrian-Hungarian immigrants, Vienna Beef Factory introduced their frankfurters at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, according to writer Dennis Lee, who performed original firsthand research about the best Chicago hot dogs for Bon Appétit. Today, you can try one of these wieners at many of the hot dog carts and restaurants throughout the city. Or, you can go straight to the source for an authentic Chicago-styled hot dog. 

Across the street from its factory, Vienna Beef sells its own hot dogs at the Vienna Beef Factory Store. If you're a newbie to Chicago's hot dog scene, you can consider these hot dogs as the quintessential Chicago-style dog. Lee writes that if you order one, you'll be served a natural-casing frankfurter topped with onions, tomatoes, relish, a pickle spear, sport peppers, mustard, and celery salt.

Jimmy's Red Hots

Opened in 1954, Jimmy's Red Hots is a no-frills establishment. The hot dog institution doesn't offer seating, but if you can't wait to dig into your lunch, you can enjoy your dog at the ordering counter or in the parking lot. Jimmy's sticks to the Depression-era recipe, which includes yellow mustard, onions, relish, and large sport peppers.

When you visit Jimmy's Red Hots, you should also try the homemade hot sauce, which can add a punch to your hot dog and is also great for dipping your fresh-cut fries, according to Bon Appétit's Dennis Lee. Along with its Chicago-style hot dogs, which feature Vienna Beef franks, Jimmy's Red Hots is also known for its Polish sausages and tamales. Jimmy's is so adamantly anti-ketchup that they don't even offer the condiment. But don't worry: Signage is everywhere inside the counter eatery reminding patrons that ordering ketchup is open grounds for ridicule.

Dave's Red Hots

Located in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Dave's Red Hots is considered to be the oldest hot dog stand in the city. Dating back to sometime in the 1930s, Dave's Red Hots has been serving the same simple menu for decades, according to Bon Appetit's Dennis Lee. This includes Polish sausages, salami sandwiches, and, of course, Chicago-style hot dogs.

With this in mind, Dave's Red Hots serves relatively simple hot dogs as well. If you order one with everything, you'll receive a hot dog with yellow mustard, sliced pickles, and sport peppers. And unlike at Jimmy's Red Hots, you don't need to be afraid to ask for ketchup packets at Dave's Red Hots. But as a reminder, the ketchup is strictly for dipping your hand-cut fries, which come with your hot dog. There are also small booths at the restaurant, so you can enjoy your hot dog inside the historic establishment.

Superdawg Drive-In

Superdawg Drive-In first opened in 1948 and has remained a family-owned restaurant for decades. Both Illinois locations, one in Chicago and one in Wheeling, are known for their convenient drive-in setup, carhop service, bright green relish, and skinless hot dogs, which are made especially for Superdawg restaurants. Their hot dogs are also considered a bit bigger and bolder than standard Chicago-styled hot dogs.

As Dennis Lee surveyed for Bon Appétit, the hot dogs come with mustard, piccalilli (the bright-green relish), onions, sport peppers, and a pickle spear. As such, Superdawg's Chicago-styled hot dogs are known simply as Superdawgs, which come in a small box that's also filled with crinkle fries. As Lee points out, Superdawgs are also served with a pickled green tomato wedge, which is a unique yet delicious addition. If you're looking for a convenient yet authentic Chicago snack, Superdawg may be a great option. While their hot dogs are the restaurant's claim to fame, their double-pattied Whoopercheesie burger is also a fan-favorite menu item.

Gene & Jude's

Another standing-room-only institution where ketchup is much maligned, Gene & Jude's has been serving its hot dogs for over 70 years. The legendary stand is known for its slender, snappier Vienna Beef franks and its own take on the Depression-era dog.

Along with your typical toppings of onion, relish, mustard, and peppers, your hot dog will also receive a fistful of hand-cut fries. After your hot dog with fries is wrapped in wax paper, quickly find a spot at the stand-up counter or take your greasy goodness out to the parking lot.

Located in River Grove, Gene & Jude's is the only establishment on this list to serve the suburbs of Chicago, but even so, many Chicago foodies maintain that Gene & Jude's actually makes the best hot dogs in the city. While we won't pick the "best" place to get a Chicago-style hot dog, we'll definitely admit their red hots are worth the trip. Just don't waste anybody's time asking for ketchup.