Forget your mom’s birthday and cancel Christmas – there’s a much more important date that you should have emblazoned onto your brain: National Hot Dog Day.
They say that every dog gets his day, and this momentous celebration of America’s favourite sandwich takes place on July 23 – leaving you with just over a month to decide where you’ll pay homage to the dawg on the big day.
There is really only one destination that’s fitting for paying homage to the humble hot dog: Chicago. In the Windy City, the hot dog is nothing short of an art form – and it usually comes on a poppyseed bun topped with mustard, relish, chopped onion, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers and celery salt.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Well don’t worry, help is at hand. Here are the some of the best joints in Chicago where you can dig your teeth into a delicious, fresh, plump, juicy, irreplaceable hot dog...
1. Gene & Jude’s
A Chicago staple since 1946, the atmosphere at Gene & Jude’s on River Road can be somewhat gruff, but it’s packed for a reason. It could be that Gene & Jude’s dogs have been named the number one hot dogs in America by celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Check out the Depression Dog – every order is served with a handful of hand-cut fries, which come heaped on top of your dog whether you want them or not. Undoubtedly though, you do.
2. Hot Doug’s
This wonderfully-affordable self-proclaimed "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium" is located on North California Avenue, and at lunchtime, you can expect to sometimes line up for an hour. Hot Doug’s is that good. The exceptionally creative menu includes The Elvis, which is a Polish sausage served “smoked and savoury – just like the King”, and the Bo Derek (formerly called the Brigitte Bardot, the Salma Hayek, the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margaret) because it’s – wait for it – “mighty, mighty, mighty hot”.
3. Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Dogs
Creativecommons.org/Southern Foodways Alliance
Featured in Anthony Bourdain Fast Food and National Geographic, this south side shack on South Western Avenue is famous for its Mother-In-Law Dog – a tamale served with chili on a hot dog bun. If you really want a challenge of a dog, check out Johnnie’s Mighty Dog, which is a hot dog and a tamale served with chili and all the Chicago-style dog trimmings. Antacid anyone?
Open since 1948, Superdawg on Milwaukee Avenue can’t be missed. It offers a dog so life-changing that it even managed to receive a shout out in Patricia Schultz’ 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. A Superdawg is a juicy pure-beef hot dog that is lovingly placed upon a poppy seed bun before it’s formally dressed with all the trimmings – golden mustard, tangy piccalilli, kosher dill pickle, chopped Spanish onions and a hot pepper.
5. Murphy’s Red Hots
With 20 years of experience, Murphy’s Red Hots on Belmont Avenue has perfected every detail of the authentic red hot: a perfectly-cooked Vienna Beef dog on a warm poppy-seed bun that’s piled high with condiments. Choose between boiled or charbroiled, and if you’ve got a healthy appetite, go for the foot-long. Murphy's induction into the Vienna Beef Hall of Fame just adds to its street cred.
6. Huey’s Hotdogs
Located on Balmoral Avenue, Huey's Hotdogs offers a stand-out hot dog in a hot dog town. Whether you want a classic Chicago-Style hot dog, a specialty sausage, or one of the many vegan specialties, Huey’s has a huge menu to explore. Vienna Dog, Double Dog, Polish Sausage, Corn Dog, Turkey Dog, Chili Cheese Dog or even a Turducken Sausage (yes, it really does exist), you’ll find them all in this legendary Chicago joint.
7. Belly Shack
At Belly Shack on North Western Avenue, galloping dog gourmets are invited to “take a joyride through the flavours of their mouth”. And there could be something to this. Combining the flavours of chef Bill Kim’s and his wife Yvonne’s Korean and Puerto Rican youth, Belly Shack takes you on a playful journey through the foods that defined their childhoods. The menu imaginatively blends their culinary backgrounds, introducing a creative new style of comfort food that you’ll savour with every bite. For something new, check out the Belly Dog, an all-beef hot dog topped with egg noodles, green papaya and togarashi spiced fries.
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