Gallery: Beyond the Chicago Dog: 8 Haute Hot Dogs We Love in Chicago

Belly Dog at Belly Shack ($9.00)
Belly Dog at Belly Shack ($9.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Whenever I take friends to Belly Shack, I give this long spiel about how everything is good, and then they inevitably look at the menu and order the Belly Dog. How can I blame them? Where else can you find a creation quite like this? It all starts with an all-beef hot dog, which is topped with tart pickled green papaya, spicy kimchi salsa, and, most surprisingly, crunchy egg noodles. Tossed on a toasted and split pita, the Belly Dog makes for one of the most satisfying hot dog options in the whole city.

Belly Shack‎, 1912 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map), 773-252-1414, bellyshack.com‎

Mini Housemade Chili Hot Dog at Old Town Social ($9 for three)
Mini Housemade Chili Hot Dog at Old Town Social ($9 for three)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

When you order the mini housemade hot dogs at Old Town Social (which should be required), you must make a choice: do you get three of the same kind, or do you try a Chicago dog, chili dog, and corn dog? While the latter lets you taste all of the impressive selections, my clear favorite is the chili dog. The crispy and smoky housemade hot dog is slathered with a spicy and sweet chili, and then stuffed into a pillowy little bun. A sprinkle of chopped onion and a squeeze of mustard finish off this incredible offering.

Old Town Social‎, 455 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610 (map); 312-266-2277; oldtownsocial.com‎

Chili Cheese Dog at Bangers & Lace ($6.00)
Chili Cheese Dog at Bangers & Lace ($6.00)

[Photograph: Joe Roy]

"The Chili Cheese Dog tastes even prettier than it looks. Housed in the same bun as the Po' Boy, the uncured hot dog, sausage chili (with actual rounds of cured sausage!), sour cream drizzle, and vibrantly pickled red onions work together to create the best non-traditional chili cheese dog I've ever tasted." Read more here >>

Bangers & Lace, 1670 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-252-6499; bangersandlacechicago.com‎

Bacon Wrapped Dog at The Haute & the Dog ($5.00)
Bacon Wrapped Dog at The Haute & the Dog ($5.00)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Wrapping bacon around hot dogs always sounds like the greatest idea ever until the first bite. How could that combo fail? But the bacon is usually either flabby or too brittle. If you want to see it done right, head to The Haute & the Dog, where the bacon is always crispy and the sausage is juicy. The shop knows not to cover up this achievement, topping it with only some grilled onions and peppers.

The Haute & the Dog, 1252 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 312-720-8185; hauteanddog.com‎

Brunch Hot Dog at Pl-Zen ($10)
Brunch Hot Dog at Pl-Zen ($10)

[Photograph: Chelsea Ross]

"The brunch hot dog is a jalapeño smoked beef sausage wrapped in duck bacon, stuffed inside a pretzel roll, and topped with crispy poblano rings and a poached egg. Oh and it's served with giardiniera and polenta-crusted potatoes. I'm assuming that in some drunken stupor, someone in the kitchen created this dish on a dare, and despite sounding like Michelle Obama's worst nightmare, it's actually a fantastic dish. It's an aggressive, unruly hodgepodge, but it's a harmonious hodgepodge nonetheless." Read more here >>

Pl-zen, 1519 West 18th Street, Chicago IL 60608 (map); 312-733-0248; pl-zen.com

Sonoran Hot Dog at Big Star ($7)
Sonoran Hot Dog at Big Star ($7)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Unlike the manageable little tacos, the Sonoran hot dog at Big Star is a big ol' mess. A hefty all-beef hot dog is wrapped in bacon and stuffed into a fluffy bollillo roll that is quite literally the size of your head. Pinto beans and onions are added, along with a deluge of lime mayo, mustard, and hot sauce. There is no polite way to handle this. My advice is to grab a stack of napkins and dig in with abandon.

Big Star, 1531 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); 773-235-4039; bigstarchicago.com‎

Milt Dog at Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed ($12.00)
Milt Dog at Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed ($12.00)

[Photograph: Chelsea Ross]

"The Milt Dog ($12) has savory components that you won't find in a basic Chicago-style hot dog. The kosher Romanian Char Dog is grilled and served on top of their brisket chili, which is basically large chunks of savory and tender brisket pieces marinated in spices. It gets a bit messy, so you may need a fork to pick up the extra juicy bits that you can't let to go to waste. They top it off with crispy fried onions and pickled jalapenos to add some crunch and heat." Read more here >>

Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed, 3411 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL 60657 (map); 773-661-6384; miltsbbq.com

French Poodle at Chicago Dog House ($2.99)
French Poodle at Chicago Dog House ($2.99)

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

"Chicago's Dog House has a way with topping hot dogs, and there is a whole section of the menu to choose from. I highly recommend the French Poodle ($2.99), which adds spicy Grey Poupon, tart pear slices, and creamy brie, for a carefully arranged bite that never gets overwhelming."Read more here >>

Chicago's Dog House, 816 West Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); 773-248-3647; chicagosdog.com‎