Regardless of whether you devour dips with gusto or just want a tiny bit to complement your fried fare, there's no shortage of options around town, ranging from fudge desserts to mayo packed with Indian flavors.
'phil's last stand' on Serious Eats
So many stories about hot dogs have gone up this month, you may wonder whether we eat anything else in Chicago. But some of my favorite hot dog stands serve items that are just as good, and in some cases, even better than the dogs.
It was clear from the moment I moved here that Chicago cared about its hot dogs more than any other place I'd ever been. And after five years of searching, here are my ten favorite Chicago-style hot dogs.
When it comes to hot dogs, Chicagoans have opinions. We care where they are made, who serves them, and what tops them. We will drive all over the city to satisfy a craving, passing lesser stands that just aren't quite good enough.
These new restaurants are literally all over the map, and come from both respected restauranteurs and hungry novices. The only similarity is that I was legitimately surprised by what I ate.
Will Chicago ever run out of stands to visit? I doubt it. Just when I think I've uncovered every walkup window in the metropolitan area, I come across an unsuspecting option hidden in plain sight. Check out the most popular stands of 2012.
It's hard to believe how much I ate out in 2012. I probably ate out once a day, where I'd often try three to four different dishes. Then there were the occasions where I'd try one of everything at a restaurant, which immediately added dozens of options to the final tally. I thought putting together the list would be hard, but some very specific dishes jumped right out at me.
The combination of ingredients is winning: a toasted Gonnella French roll is layered with Phil's sauce (think In-N-Out Spread), tomato and pickle slices, house coleslaw, panko-crusted fried shrimp, fresh-fried shoestring potatoes, and Vern's cheddar sauce (which Phil prefers to the ubiquitous Merkt's).
Here's the thing: Most people think that the Chicago dog has an inflexible formula, one set down from on high, which mandates a certain seven toppings that must be included or the whole deal is off. But the reality I've encountered over the many years I've been searching for the best hot dog in Chicago is far more varied and interesting. Here's the guide to make sense of it all.
The first thing you see when you walk into Phil's Last Stand on Chicago Avenue is Phil, or as he likes to refer to himself online, Fat Phil. Like Doug Sohn (Hot Doug's) and Eddie Lakin (Edzo's) before him, Phil always stands guard, taking every order, and making as many jokes as possible. While that obviously ensures a fun and freewheeling vibe, it's main advantage is quality control. Nothing gets by Phil without his approval. That turns out to be a very good thing.