Gallery: 13 Great Chicago Hot Dogs We've Tried in 2012 (So Far)

Al's Under the L
Al's Under the L

The minimalist-style hot dog features just mustard, relish, onion, and hot peppers. Most importantly, the stand uses a natural-casing Vienna Beef hot dog, meaning each bite has the requisite snap that every good hot dog should. Read more here >>

Fast Track
Fast Track

There really are over 80 items to choose from at Fast Track. But if you have only one shot, you might as well go with the Charbroiled Hot Dog ($2.55). The natural casing dog is steamed, cut with a knife a few times, and then tossed on the grill, where the casing crisps up. Set on a steamed poppy seed bun and loaded with all of the classic Chicago-style toppings, this is one of the better char dogs around. Read more here >>

U.B. Dogs
U.B. Dogs

The fully loaded Chicago Hot Dog ($2.79) uses a natural casing Vienna Beef hot dog, and comes housed in a beautiful poppy-seed bun. Text-book and tasty, this is a serious boon to the downtown hot dog scene. Read more here >>

Portillo's
Portillo's

This locally owned franchise kicks out a surprising number of great menu items, but it's the hot dog that is my favorite item on the menu. If you're looking for a flawless rendition of a Chicago-style hot dog, or if you just happen to be hungry, this one is worth checking out. Read more here >>

Scooter's Frozen Custard
Scooter's Frozen Custard

This frozen custard stand created the Scooter Dog ($2.35), which features all the ingredients from a Chicago-style hot dog plus "Scooter's killer sweet red pepper relish." It's certainly red, but is it killer? Honestly, when mixed up with the sweet relish, it was kind of hard to taste it, but a faint roasted sweetness presence did eventually reveal itself. Read more here >>

Murphy's Red Hots
Murphy's Red Hots

When I visit Murphy's, I'm after one thing and one thing only: a red hot ($3.49). Here that entails a natural casing hot dog from Vienna Beef, either steamed or charred, stuffed into a fluffy poppy-seed bun, and loaded with all the Chicago-style essentials. Besides the presence of the thick-cut cucumber slices that you can easily flick off, this is a flawless Chicago Dog, made all the more wonderful by an extra pillowy bun. Read more here >>

Mr. G's
Mr. G's

I was excited when Mr. G's opened in Logan Square back in January, because while my neighborhood has an exceptional scene, it didn't have a great hot dog. Over the past six months, I've stopped by the stand a number of times, and each time I've been served a very good Chicago-style hot dog. Plus, those hand-cut fries have ranged from solid to exceptional. Read more here >>

Morrie O'Malley's
Morrie O'Malley's

The hot dog ($2.69) comes loaded with all the toppings you'd expect on a fully-loaded Chicago dog, plus a big hunk of cucumber. Though I'm convinced this ruins the symmetrical beauty of the dish (I have a grand theory about this), the cucumber actually blends rather nicely into the whole, adding a cooling crunch to each bite. Of course, it helps that the natural casing Vienna Beef dog is extra beefy and plump. Add in a steamed poppy seed bun, and you have one knockout hot dog.Read more here >>

Jim's Original
Jim's Original

The natural casing Vienna Beef dog at Jim's Original has a tremendous snap and a big beefy profile. Like on the restaurant's Polish, the caramelized onions lend a slight sweetness, which is undercut nicely by the mustard. Plus, it's all housed in a warm and fluffy steamed bun. Read more here >>

Allium
Allium

Chef Kevin Hickey's Chicago dog at Allium is a labor of love. Everything, and I mean everything, is created from scratch—the hot dog, the poppy seed bun, and all the condiments. Most of the condiments are presented on the side, so you can craft your perfect bite. Luckily, the incredibly beefy dog is still the center of attention. Read more here >>

[Courtesy of Allium]

Hot Diggity Dogs
Hot Diggity Dogs

I talk a lot about snap when dealing with Chicago's hot dogs, mostly because it proves that the stand uses natural casing hot dogs. But I'm having a hard time remembering one quite as genuinely snappy as Hot Diggity Dog's hot dog ($5, includes fries and a drink). Read more here >>

Phil's Last Stand
Phil's Last Stand

What does Phil's add to a scene already stuffed with more natural casing hot dog joints than one man should reasonably eat in a year? It's all about the grill. The hot dogs aren't steamed but charred, and that lick of the flame, along with the handsome grill marks, puts it in the similar camp as Gold Coast Dogs. But where that Loop staple seems to be coasting, Phil's is working hard. I've never had a dog from Gold Coast look anywhere near as beautiful as the hot dog ($3.50, with fries) from Phil's. Read more here >>

Byron's Hot Dogs
Byron's Hot Dogs

Without a doubt, the Jumbo dog ($3.89) is messy and out of control, but it's also kind of impossible to hate. Though skinless, the Jumbo brings along an extra beefy profile, standing up admirably to the cool mix of ingredients. Sure, the bun will collapse halfway through, but that's a small price to pay for a hot dog that balances the cool and crunchy with the savory so well. Read more here >>