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The best Chicago hot dog stands

From Chicago dogs to perfectly crisp fries, here are the best Chicago hot dog stands—just hold the ketchup

Portillo's serves one of the best hot dogs in Chicago.

Chicagoans take hot dogs very seriously and for good reason—we know how we like them and we make them well. And these Chicago restaurants are doing it best of all. When you're looking for a Chicago dog with all the toppings (minus ketchup, of course) and a side of French fries, head to Gene and Jude's or Superdawg. For crazy inventive sausages like banh mi, head to Franks 'N' Dawgs. For fry-topped Depression dogs, Red Hot Ranch is your stand. These hot dog stands serve some of the best versions in town (and some of the best burgers in Chicago as well).

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best Chicago restaurants

Best Chicago hot dog stands

Franks 'N’ Dawgs

Alexander Brunacci opened this highfalutin hot-dog joint with chef Joe Doren, a fine-dining refugee. Together, they’re changing the gourmet hot-dog game. The regular dogs are Boar’s Head, but the housemade sausages are where it’s at. And yet the best part of all is the lobster-roll-style buns, baked locally by Nicole Bergere (of Nicole’s Divine Crackers). The things are so buttery and golden, you may not notice the sausages they cradle.

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Lincoln Park

Gene & Jude's Red Hot Stand

Do not ask for ketchup when you order one of the legendary slender, snappy hot dogs that come topped with a fistful of fries at this standing room only institution that’s been serving ’em up since 1951. The surly types behind the counter don’t go for sissy stuff like that. Claim your place at the end of the perpetually long line and entertain yourself by watching potatoes being cut and fried into perfect greasy strips while you wait. Once it’s your turn, order your dog with everything, then count your blessings for the wax paper-wrapped bliss that lies before you.

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River Grove

Fatso's Last Stand

This “last stand” serves Fatsos (burgers) and Welch’s grape juice (?) until 4am on weekends, in a room where the main decor element is hundreds of the stand’s business cards glued to a wall. Though this place is only a couple years old, it has the soul of a classic, and anything that goes in a fryer—crispy-on-the-outside french fries, sweet shrimp coated with crunchy panko-like breading—comes out damn near perfect. The char dogs, which you can also get with cheddar, are ideal versions of the form.

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Ukrainian Village

Morrie O'Malley's

This seasonal South Side hot dog is just begging for a Sox home game and a warm day. Here you'll find some flawless fully loaded hot dogs, but consider those just the tip of the jam-packed menu. Sure, you can go for a Polish or a hamburger, but don't skip some of the other oddball creations, like the A1-drenched charbroiled strip steak sandwich.

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Murphy’s Red Hots

You can’t walk a dozen blocks in this town without bumping into a Chicago-style hot dog, so what’s so special about this one? We think it’s owner Jim Murphy, who takes a lot of pride in greeting regulars and walking new customers through their orders—this man clearly loves his job. Polish sausages and Italian beef are on offer, but we keep it sweet and simple with a red hot, grilled and dragged through the garden, with a side of hand-cut, skin-on fries, dropped in bubbling oil only when you order them to ensure freshness.

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This über-efficient local chain, begun in Villa Park in 1963, is mostly found in the suburbs. But at the one city Portillo's, in tourist-heavy River North, out-of-towners flock in search of an authentic Chicago dog. The thick, nicely juicy dog comes on poppyseed bun steamed to perfect softness and with a generous helping of thick-cut tomatoes, onions and a hefty pickle slice.

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River North

Redhot Ranch

Sometimes you’ll see a couple of locals stroll up to the counter and try to place an order here. “Got burgers?” they’ll ask. “Tacos?” The answer is nope and nope. Whatever used to inhabit this stand-alone shack on Western clearly excelled in variety, but the current dive, Redhot Ranch, is taking a different tactic: minimal selection, flawless execution. Juicy Depression dogs are served with fresh-cut fries that are crisp on the outside and pillowy inside; shrimp, available by the half or full pound, are entirely greaseless. And it's all served until 4am during the week and 5am on weekends.

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Superdawg Drive-In

Despite a renovation in 1999, this hot-dog drive-in is still as old-fashioned as ever, with uniformed servers bringing your order directly to your car window. Apparently scared of copycats, the owners have trademarked almost every dish, the main draw being the “Superdawg,” an all-beef frank so plump it’s hard to remove it from its cartoon-covered box. After a meal of hot dogs, fries, burgers (try the delicious, double-decker “Whoopercheesie”) and “Supershakes” (actually not very super), expect to literally roll yourself home.

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Norwood Park

The Wieners Circle

The sassy girls behind the counter at this classic roadside shack have had enough of drunk yuppies' crap. Enough so that they’ve developed their own brand of smack-talking that’s now synonymous with a late-night dog run here. Get your Chicago red hot with the traditional fixings—mustard, onion, neon-green relish, pickle spear, tomato, celery salt and sport peppers—an order of thick-cut fries and a big, fat lemonade.

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Lincoln Park

Wiener and Still Champion

Even though this Evanston stalwart has been going strong for more than 35 years on the strength of its “Dippin' Dog,” an ownership change in 2005 showed that the Champ still has some tricks up his sleeve. If bacon isn't enough to whet your appetite for salt and fat, get it served up in country-fried bites—or try the pickle chips and gyros, also lovingly deep-fried. And while the hand-cut fries are fantastic naked, the ever-changing lineup of dipping sauces (choices like miso mayo, spicy olive and tomato basil feta will give you some idea of what's in store) will leave no doubt in your mind that this humble hot dog joint still reigns large.

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Chris D
Chris D

This doesn't mention the two stands on museum campus, by Soldier Field? #fail