15 Favorite Hot Dogs in Chicago for 2023

Published on December 16, 2022 | 0 Comments
We've found the best hot dogs in Chicago.

When it comes to classic American cuisine, the hot dogs in Chicago are more than deserving of a spot on every foodie’s bucket list. Hot dogs in Chicago were first introduced by Austrian Hungarian immigrants around the turn of the century. Since then, the Chicago-style hot dog, also known as a red hot, has become synonymous with Chicago food culture. 

With so many hot dogs in Chicago to choose from, newcomers to the Windy City are likely to feel a little lost. To help, this guide narrows down your options to the 15 very best hot dogs in Chicago.

 

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Find the Best Hot Dogs in Chicago

Hot dogs in Chicago are a little more complicated than a sausage and a bun. Chicago hot dogs involve high-quality meat and bread, with unique toppings that distinguish the dish from your typical fast food hot dog. 

If you want to take a deep dive into the art of the hot dog in Chicago, you might enjoy looking into food tours in Chicago. On a food tour, you can get a taste of all the best Chicago foods under the guidance of a local culinary expert. 

15 Best Hot Dogs in Chicago

1. Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Hots

Don’t let the unassuming exterior at Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Hots fool you — this institution has been selling delicious hot dogs in Chicago since the 1970s. Located in the Marquette Park area of the city, Fat Johnnie’s is an old-school hot dog stand that makes traditional Chicago red hots. 

The Vibe

Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Hots is a small stand with a simple sign that says, “Hot Dogs.” If you didn’t know the stand was famous, you’d likely pass it by. However, the service is excellent and the food is on par with some of the best restaurants in Chicago

What to Order

This quaint hot dog stand has a lengthy list of hot dog offerings, and they’re all excellent. For an authentic piece of Chicago history, order the Mother-in-Law, a tamale dish that was popularized during the Great Depression. 

Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Hots | 7242 S. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60636 | $

Fat Johnnie's serves famous Chicago hot dogs.
via Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots

2. Wolfy's

Wolfy's is an iconic spot for hot dogs in Chicago. Open since 1967, this quaint, retro restaurant is instantly recognizable by its giant sign out front depicting a fork piercing a red hot. This sign is so essentially "Chicago" that it appears in the opening credits of While You Were Sleeping.

The Vibe

The interior of Wolfy's is everything you'd expect from a long-standing Chicago hot dog hot spot, with an old-school letter-board menu, red-and-white tiled walls, red booths and a tiled mural that pays homage to the Chicago hot dog.

What to Order

Wolfy's has got a little bit of everything in every form you could ever want, from burgers to chicken to even fish. But for the true Wolfy's experience, get the fully-loaded jumbo char hot dog. 

Wolfy's | 2734 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL 60659 | $

Wolfy's serves famous Chicago hot dogs.
via Wolfy's

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3. Dave’s Red Hots

Dave’s Red Hots is reportedly the oldest stand that sells hot dogs in Chicago. This family-run stand offers traditional Vienna sausages and appears to have almost the same menu as when it opened in the early 1930s.

The Vibe

Unlike many of the spots for hot dogs in Chicago on this list, Dave’s Red Hots has an interior space. After you order your hot dog at the counter, you can enjoy your meal at one of the wooden booths. Most of the staff are members of the multi-generational family that owns Dave’s, so the entire space feels like a wholesome, neighborhood restaurant. 

What to Order

Dave’s Red Hots has a simple menu that sticks to the classics. You can’t go wrong ordering a hot dog in Chicago with all the traditional toppings: mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles and peppers. 

Dave’s Red Hots | 3422 W. Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, IL 60624 | $

a hot dog and fries
via Dave's Red Hots

4. Lola’s Coney Island

Although most of the best hot dogs in Chicago are Chicago-style dogs, Lola’s Coney Island stands out from the crowd by offering Detroit-style Coney Island hot dogs. A Coney Island hot dog originates from Greek immigrant communities. Usually, a Detroit Coney dog is topped with beanless chili sauce. 

The Vibe

Lola’s Coney Island is a cozy restaurant with a sweet atmosphere — the main decoration is a cartoon of the restaurant’s namesake, the owner’s daughter Lola. After you order inside, you can either sit at the counter or go outside to one of the picnic tables. 

What to Order

Lola’s includes Chicago-style dogs on the menu, but the Detroit Coney Island hot dog is their specialty. The Detroit hot dog is made with pork and beef sausage, chili, mustard and white onion. For a more Chicago-inspired meal, try the Chicago Meats Detroit, which is a Vienna sausage with Detroit-style toppings. 

Lola’s Coney Island | 2858 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL | $$

three Chicago hot dogs
via Lola's Coney Island

5. Red Hot Ranch

Red Hot Ranch is a local chain known for its fantastic hot dogs and beloved cheeseburgers. Owners Barry Nemerow and Jeff Greenfield focus on the history of hot dogs in Chicago, using traditional cooking methods and ingredients that recreate the red hots of the 1930s. 

The Vibe

Red Hot Ranch feels like a retro fast food restaurant, complete with vintage-style posters and framed newspaper clippings of positive reviews. This place is a great option if you’re looking for a quick lunch or a late-night snack.  

What to Order

As the name implies, Red Hot Ranch started out focused on the culture of hot dogs in Chicago. However, the RHR cheeseburger is also incredibly popular and worth ordering if you like burgers with smashed, crispy patties. When it comes to hot dogs around Chicago, the standard Chicago-style hot dog is affordable and always yummy.

Red Hot Ranch | Multiple Locations | $

a hot dog and fries
via Red Hot Ranch

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6. Budacki’s Drive In

One of the greatest aspects of the hot dogs in Chicago is that so many of the stands are family-owned businesses that have been around for decades. Budacki’s Drive In, which has been open for about 50 years, is another great example of high-quality, classic Chicago cuisine. 

The Vibe

Budacki’s Drive In isn’t a drive-in, although it does have the associated vintage vibe. The interior is cheerful and welcoming, with plenty of photos displaying the menu items. You can eat your hot dogs at one of the several shaded picnic tables while admiring the stunning street art mural on the exterior wall. 

What to Order

Both the Chicago-style hot dog and the chili-cheese dog are excellent. Budacki’s also makes wonderfully sweet and creamy milkshakes at an amazingly low price. 

Budacki’s Drive In | 4739 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 | $

a hot dog
via Canva

7. Flub A Dub Chub’s

Flub A Dub Chub’s might have a goofy name, but they take the hot dogs in Chicago seriously. Located in a basement-level space in Lakeview, Flub A Dub Chub’s is a homey restaurant that makes great food that is sure to brighten up your day. 

The Vibe

Flub A Dub Chub’s looks like it comes straight from an illustration of a 1950s diner. The restaurant has black and white tile floors and red stools, as well as a hilarious wall of shame that features photos of customers who dared to request ketchup — a big no-no for authentic hot dogs in Chicago. 

What to Order

If you want to keep it simple, order the Chubby, an extra-large Vienna sausage with Chicago-style toppings. However, if you are in the mood to try some hot dogs in Chicago that extend beyond traditionalism, check out the Speiser Chili Cheese Dog. 

Flub A Dub Chub’s | 3021 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657 | $$

Flub a Dub Chub's serves a great Chicago hot dog.
via Flub a Dub Chub's

8. Hot Dog Station

Named for its proximity to a Brown Line station, Hot Dog Station is a cute fast food joint that offers a satisfying mix of traditional and elevated Chicago-style dogs, as well as some other favorite fast food items, such as burgers and fries.

The Vibe

Hot Dog Station has a funky aesthetic, with most of the décor nodding to its train station theme. The service is incredibly friendly and accommodating, and if you stick around to eat your meal, you can enjoy an awesome playlist of retro music. 

What to Order

Hot Dog Station has several hot dog options, but the Chicago-style is still the best. You can also branch out and order one of their indulgent Italian beef sandwiches. 

Hot Dog Station | 4742 N. Kimball Ave., Chicago, IL 60625 | $

Chicago style hot dog
via Hot Dog Station

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9. Fat Tommy’s

Fat Tommy’s is one of the best options to get hot dogs in Chicago if you want a sit-down experience. This well-liked spot has ample seating and, in addition to gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches, has an extensive beer menu. 

The Vibe

On the outside, Fat Tommy’s is a charming little red house. Go inside and you’ll enjoy a warm, cozy restaurant space. You have lots of tables to choose from, and there’s usually a sporting event playing on the television. If you prefer outdoor seating, Fat Tommy’s also has a nice al fresco dining area. 

What to Order

Fat Tommy’s most unique hot dog is the Ditka Dog. This ultra-savory beef Polish sausage is wrapped in bacon and topped with onions, cheese and mustard. 

Fat Tommy’s | 3031 W. 111th St., Chicago, IL 60655 | $

Hot dogs in Chicago at Fat Tommy's are fantastic.
via Fat Tommy's

10. Gene and Jude’s Red Hot Stand

Gene and Jude’s Red Hot Stand has a pretty clear tagline: “No seats, no ketchup, no pretense, no nonsense.” Founded in 1946, Gene and Jude’s is firmly committed to making the tastiest, most authentic hot dogs in Chicago. 

The Vibe

If you’re looking for things to do in Chicago that capture the local culture, you have to check out Gene and Jude’s. Gene and Jude’s Red Hot Stand is a relatively large space with a clean, white counter where customers order. Despite the long lines, the staff is efficient and professional, guaranteeing polite service and a quick wait. 

What to Order

Since Gene and Jude’s is a deeply traditional restaurant, don’t expect any trendy gourmet hot dogs. The central menu item is a hot dog, made just the same as what Chicagoans had during the Depression: mustard, relish, onion and sport peppers. They do serve their red hots up with a pile of fries on top, though — as if their dogs weren't beautiful enough!

Gene and Jude’s Red Hot Stand | 2720 N. River Rd., River Grove, IL 60171 | $

hot dogs with fries
via Gene and Jude's Red Hot Stand

11. Portillo’s

Portillo’s is one of the most popular regional chains for hot dogs in Chicago, and for good reason. In most cases, it’s unusual for a larger chain to show up on a list of the best hot dogs in Chicago, but Portillo’s has been showcasing Chicago foods to the public for several decades. 

The Vibe

Every Portillo’s is a little different, but you can always expect an eclectic aesthetic with a bright, cheerful atmosphere. As a highly-praised chain restaurant, you can trust Portillo’s to have professional and speedy service, not to mention tasty hot dogs that Chicago residents adore. 

What to Order

Naturally, Portillo’s is known for having a good Chicago-style hot dog, including a vegetarian version. Chicago locals also rely on Portillo’s for its amazing Italian beef sandwiches.

Portillo’s | Multiple Locations | $$

Portillo's serves famous hot dogs in Chicago.
via Portillo's

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12. Devil Dawgs

With an original location near DePaul University, Devil Dawgs is the quintessential late-night restaurant for getting hot dogs in Chicago. This hot dog eatery offers greasy, savory meals that satisfy your cravings. 

The Vibe

Devil Dawgs has a fun, casual vibe. Each location has a slightly different style, but most of them will have exposed brick and trendy wall art. Devil Dawgs feels hip and social without becoming pretentious or exclusive. 

What to Order

In addition to Chicago-style dogs, Devil Dawgs has various hot dog concepts. For a minimalist but refreshing hot dog, try out the Southern Slaw Dog, made with coleslaw and mustard. 

Devil Dawgs | Multiple Locations | $

a hot dog
via Devil Dawgs

13. Fatso’s Last Stand

Fatso’s Last Stand is the perfect place if you’re looking for sandwiches and hot dogs in Chicago loaded with yummy toppings. Plus, this hot dog stand is open until 10 p.m., making it a convenient option for both lunch and dinner plans. 

The Vibe

Fatso’s Last Stand has a small inside counter for ordering, as well as a few indoor seats. The restaurant has a slightly edgy aesthetic, but the space is always clean and the service is friendly. It's a great family spot if you come in the daytime, while in the late evenings it’s a fun place for young people out on the town. 

What to Order

Fatso’s makes deliciously smoky, charred hot dogs. For a filling meal, order the double char dog, which is served Chicago-stye. Milkshake fans should also save room for an Oreo or strawberry shake. 

Fatso’s Last Stand | Multiple Locations | $$

Fatso's Last Stand serves perfect Chicago hot dogs.
via Fatso's Last Stand

14. Vienna Beef Factory Store

Vienna all-beef sausages are essential to hot dogs in Chicago, so it’s no surprise that the Vienna Beef Factory Store makes a great Chicago dog. Right next to a Vienna Beef manufacturing factory, the store sells some of the best hot dogs around Chicago, made by the sausage experts themselves.

The Vibe

The Vienna Beef Factory Store is a bit of a tourist attraction, so it has less of a gritty, authentic Chicago aesthetic. However, the restaurant makes up for it with fresh food and great service. With plenty of outdoor picnic tables, you can enjoy your hot dog right on the factory property. 

What to Order

Order the Chicago-style dog if you want a textbook example of how a classic hot dog in Chicago should taste. The store also makes a tasty spicy Polish dog. After you eat, be sure to buy some uncooked sausages to take home. 

Vienna Beef Factory Store | 3847 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60609 | $

hot dogs
via Vienna Beef Factory Store

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15. The Duck Inn

As a general rule, you can find the greatest hot dogs in Chicago at small, casual stands. However, The Duck Inn is a significant exception. This stylish sit-down restaurant makes a hot dog that Chicago folks usually expect at an old-school greasy hot dog stand. 

The Vibe

The Duck Inn has a timeless, relaxing atmosphere. Dark wood and exposed brick pair nicely with warm light and cushioned seats. This restaurant is upscale yet accessible, making it an ideal choice if you need date ideas in Chicago

What to Order

The Duck Inn has several tasty menu items, but the hot dog is truly special. Keeping with the restaurant’s duck theme, the sausage is made with duck fat and beef. This hot dog has the proper Chicago-style ingredients, including a poppy seed bun. 

The Duck Inn | 2701 S. Eleanor St., Chicago, IL 60608 | $$$

a duck fat beef hot dog
via The Duck Inn

Whether you’re a tourist or a local, it’s definitely worth exploring the many amazing hot dogs in Chicago. Not only is the Chicago hot dog a yummy treat, but it’s also a piece of the city’s culture, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of Chicago’s historical and current community. 

For even more fun ways to explore Chicago and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal. 

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