While there are quibblers, I think most of us would agree* with the immortal Mike Royko
on the quintessential dragged-through-the-garden, Chicago-style hot dog -- a style that, with some modifications, dates back to the original Fluky's on Maxwell Street
in 1929. As with Chicago-style pizza, there are variations, but this is the standard:
o Snappy, natural-casing, all-beef wiener, from Vienna Beef, Red Hot Chicago or a few others, steamed or boiled
o Steamed, high-gluten, poppyseed bun, such as S. Rosen's Mary Ann
o Yellow mustard
o Neon-green sweet pickle relish
o Chopped raw white onion
o Dill-pickle spears
o Fresh, ripe tomato slices or wedges+
o Whole, pickled sport peppers
o Dash of celery salt
o Absolutely no ketchup
But we do not have a definitive list of places to get one, especially not in the touristic areas like River North, Streeterville, the Loop, Lincoln Park and O'Hare.
It seems as if we are more prone to honor the exceptions, rather than the rule. When people ask about hot dogs, we tend to send them to places like Hot Doug's
and Gene & Jude
. These are all great spots, well worth an excursion to their out-of-the-way locations, but not one of them serves a standard Chicago hot dog.
Besides having awkward hours and long lines, Hot Doug's is really an exotic-sausage emporium -- it's not worth waiting in line there just for a Chicago-style dog, and if you do they're apt to put noncanonical grilled onions
Superdawg is one of my favorite places in the world, and it's worth visiting just for the architecture and carhop service. I adore the hot dogs, too, but Superdawg's proprietary-recipe wiener is spicier than the typical Chicago dog, they serve pickled green tomatoes instead of fresh ripe ones, and they skip the celery salt.
Gene & Jude's serves great fries, but the hot dog is decidedly minimalist. Seedless bun, and no pickles, tomatoes or celery salt. Even if you consider the fries one of the condiments (as I do), the whole doesn't add up to a typical Chicago-style dog.
So, who does serve a regular Chicago dog in the neighborhoods tourists are likely to spend time? I found myself recommending Portillo's recently, although I almost never actually eat there. Surely there are some places LTHers do go?
100 W. Ontario St., Chicago
* If you're one of those who disagrees, please do it over in one of the threads arguing such matters and let's limit this one to discussions of where to get a good hot dog as described.
+ Ripeness is a tradition honored more in theory than in practice, I'm afraid. (Tomatoes are also the top item disputed by the quibblers. Pay no attention. There are also misguided Chicagoans who think pizza should be flat. )