Food & Drink

The amazing Chicago-style hot dog & bar crawl

Published On 08/09/2013 Published On 08/09/2013

Everyone knows Chicago loves hot dogs -- as long as they have no ketchup on them. You may have also heard it's a city that enjoys its drinking. So it's only natural that you should embark on a crawl that combines the two, taking you to seven great spots serving up assorted takes on the classic Chi-dog, while scoring a drink at (or near) each one. Some notes: this schedule is meant for a Saturday. Also, while all the joints recommended serve an excellent dog, this isn't meant to be a comprehensive tour of the very best in Chicago. A few institutions (Gene & Jude's, Superdawg) missed the cut due to geographic concerns. Because you're being a responsible citizen and doing this whole thing via public transit! (Okay, there might be a cab in the mix.)

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10am
The dog: Even though it’s Saturday and you’re not commuting, you’re starting your day with a char-dog with everything at Gold Coast Dogs (222 S Riverside Plaza; 312.258.8585) in Union Station, sporting some of the neon-iest relish you’ll encounter.
The drink: Old Style in a plastic cup from the Snuggery (222 S Riverside Plaza, 312.441.9334), just across the food court area. Snag a table and enjoy them together. Sneer at any strangers judging you for drinking at 10am.

10:40am
The dog: Walk up Canal St and hang a right on Madison until you hit Wells, then hang a left and you’ll see Westminster Hot Dog (11 N Wells St, 312.445.9514), which makes its own specialty sausages, but you’re staying on-theme and getting another Chicago-style dog (courtesy of Red Hot Chicago). If you MUST be different, you have permission to opt for spicy brown mustard.
The drink: It should be 11-ish by the time you’ve eaten your dog, so mosey on over to Stocks & Blondes (40 N Wells, 312.372.3725) right when it opens. Make like a trader and knock back a whiskey shot.

11:30am
The dog: Head one block East to LaSalle and hang a left, walk then North across the river until you get to Ontario, and, more importantly, see Portillo’s Hot Dogs (100 W Ontario St; 312.587.8910). Yes, they’re a chain, but they’re a chain for a reason, as they knock out a textbook Chicago dog as well as just about anyone.
The drink: You’re in luck! Portillo’s serves beer, so get yourself an icy goblet of something cold. BONUS POINTS: It might not mix well with the beer, but down a cake shake, too, because, CAKE SHAKE!

12:15pm
The dog: Hope you dressed at least semi-classy, because you’re going to the Four Seasons! Continue East to State and make a left until you get to Delaware. Make a right and you’ll soon hit the luxury hotel where you’ll find Allium (120 W Delaware Pl, 312.799.4900), and a Chicago dog with “homemade everything”. Yes, it’s $14 bucks. But it’s damn good. And classy!
The drink: Their chef collabs with brewers on specialty draft offerings for the restaurant, so get whatever’s on tap.

1:30pm
The dog: Head back to Chicago Ave and catch the bus heading West until you get to Phil’s Last Stand (2258 W Chicago Ave, 773.245.3787), where your impeccably prepared char-dog will come with a side of fresh-cut fries. Up the ante with a cup of Merkts cheddar, because you haven’t done enough damage today.
The drink: Backtrack just a bit on Chicago to Tuman’s (2159 W Chicago Ave, 773.782.1400), and knock back a Founder’s All Day IPA. Because it’s terribly appropriate.

2:30pm
The dog: Head West and catch the... Western Ave bus for a quick trip North to Redhot Ranch (2072 N Western Ave, 773.772.6020) whose “Depression dogs” come simply dressed (just mustard, onion, relish & peppers) and wrapped with a bunch of fresh-cut fries, just like Phil’s. Skip the cheese here, though -- these fries are a show-stopper on their own.
The drink: Head North on Western to Quencher’s Saloon (2401 N Western Ave; 773.276.9730), arguably the oldest serious craft beer bar in Chicago. But time is running low, so you’re doing a shot of Malort.

3:30pm
The dog: Just splurge and get a cab here, because you have to get to Hot Doug’s (3324 N California; 773.279.9550) before it closes at 4p. The line will tell you all you need to know about the wonders that await (assuming you haven’t experienced them already). And while the specialty sausages never fail to amaze, their Chicago dog never disappoints (more people should get on board with the grilled onions).
The drink: Seriously? Go home and enjoy your food coma already. Or better yet, if you want extra credit, take the Addison bus back over to Lakeview and rage all night until you end your evening fighting the angry mob for... another hot dog (!) at the Wiener’s Circle (2622 N Clark St, 773.477.7444).

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1. Gold Coast Dogs 210 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Gold Coast)

Gold Coast Dogs is a Chicago-style char-dog institution, serving up only the finest dogs slathered in fixins.

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2. Snuggery 225 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60607 (Gold Coast)

The Snuggery is a sports bar and pub located in Chicago.

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3. Westminster Hot Dog 11 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60602

With from-scratch hot dogs and innovative toppings, Westminster Hot Dog in Chicago takes the char-dog to new heights.

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4. Stocks & Blondes 36 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60606

Stocks & Blondes is a Chicago restaurant with a 25-beer draft menu and killer burgers & wings.

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5. Allium 120 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

Allium's spiced up the former Seasons space with flourishes like a cheetah-print couch purring before a marble fireplace, as well as nosh from bison tartare w/ waffle chips, beer mustard, and a 62-degree egg, to dry-aged, 23oz bone-in ribeyes with blue cheese fondue.

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6. Phil's Last Stand 2258 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Ukrainian Village)

Phil's does hot dogs well: Get a char dog wrapped up with a healthy amount of fresh-cut fries for four bucks, and add on $1.25 for a side of Merkts cheddar because... cheese.

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7. Tuman's Tap & Grill 2159 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (Ukrainian Village)

Tuman's Tap & Grill features a seasonally rotating American menu with signature selections, 28 draft crafts, and seasonal outdoor seating.

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8. Red Hot Ranch 2072 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Chicagoans love their dogs hot and Red Hot Ranch's blinking red arrow sign directs them to this cash-only standby for "Depression Dogs:" Vienna beef dogs with mustard, onion, relish, sport peppers with a fist full of french fries in the bun. The natural-cased weiners pop when you bite them and the fries are crisp. Thin-pattied double cheeseburgers satisfy, but when in the dog house, get the dog.

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9. Quenchers Saloon 2401 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Opened in 1979, this laid-back corner bar on the Bucktown/Logan border was a craft beer bar way before people on the Internet were making lists of good craft beer bars. Because there was no Internet. And, there weren’t really other beer bars. They aren’t really the type to brag that they did it first, though (well, they do call themselves “Chicago’s Original Beer Bar,” but they don’t broadcast it too loudly). They’re too busy maintaining an unassailable tap list, throwing kickass rock shows in the back, and offering kickass-er specials all week. Just because you have great craft beer doesn’t mean people can’t appreciate $1 Blatz and $2 mystery shots.

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10. Hot Doug's 3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

Billing itself as an "encased meat emporium", Hot Doug's is a temple of Chicago-style char-dogs.

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11. The Wieners Circle 2622 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

Many businesses have come and gone in this neighborhood since the '80s (Blockbuster, McDonald's, a post office, numerous bars), but one thing has never changed: a famous hot dog stand called The Weiner Circle. For just a few bucks you can get a classic Vienna Red Hot served on a poppy seed bun and topped with The Magnificent Seven and grilled onions. You can also get a side of late-night profanity from the staff -- a tradition that started back in the early '90s when owner Larry Gold tried to get the attention of a drunk patron by yelling, “Hey. Asshole.” Its beloved reputation for vulgarity is still alive and well, and some customers even pay for it by tipping.

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12. Portillo's Hot Dogs 100 W Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60654 (River North)

Local favorite Portillo's specializes in classic Chicago-style hot dogs and an otherworldly chocolate cake that keeps fans coming back for more. They know what they're doing when it comes to hot dogs: the first Portillo's hot dog stand opened in 1963. They also know what they're doing when it comes to chocolate cake: they put it in milkshakes. That's right -- their chocolate cake shake comes blended with generous chunks of the lauded dessert. It's truly a masterpiece.

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