Don’t ask for ketchup. That’s the only rule at this mom-and-pop counter-service dog dispensary in River Grove, which is famously anti-ketchup. They serve a stripped-down Chicago dog, aka the Depression-style dog: just mustard, onions, peppers and relish, served with piping hot fries right on top.
Like a good underdog story? The very first link in the Portillo’s chain was a humble hot dog stand in suburban Villa Park called The Dog House. Cut to 52 years later: Portillo’s locations in Chicago and the suburbs are now synonymous with the ultimate Chicago-style hot dog on a poppy seed bun.
“Turn left at the giant flexing hot dog dressed as Tarzan,” is something you might hear as you approach this joint. Put it in park at Superdawg Drive-In in Chicago and Wheeling and enjoy ’50s-style carhop service. Don’t order a hot dog—order the Superdawg, nestled in a box, surrounded by crinkle-cut Superfries and topped with signature tangy piccalilli.
Chicagoans mourned the closing of Hot Doug’s in 2014, but didn’t have to wait long until Doug’s specialty recipes were reincarnated by his previous cooks at Hot “G” Dog. With Doug’s blessing, this new Uptown joint serves up duck fat fries, Andouille sausage, garlic venison dogs and other favorites Chicagoans thought they’d never taste again.
This no-nonsense hot dog stop is located in an unassuming shopping plaza in East Peoria. A long-time local favorite, the Wonderdog has remained unchanged for 50 years. It’s typically topped with diced onions, cheese and a special meat sauce that makes it uniquely Wonderdog.
Who first concocted a corn dog? Legend has it his name is Ed Waldmire Jr. and he opened Cozy Dog Drive In, allegedly the first establishment to ever serve a corn dog, in 1946. This roadside eatery in Springfield is pure Americana on a stick, and also a popular stop on Route 66.
What’s the best part of any fair? Fair food. The corn dog, with its ease of carry and perfect sweet-and-salty combo, reigns supreme over all other fair foods. At the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, nothing can top the legendary Vose’s Korndogs—a concession stand that’s been dealing out dogs for more than 45 years.
This little setback storefront in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is hardly noticeable—one might even say mysterious. Among 17 experimental dog variations on the menu, the Mystery Corn Dawg Platter sticks out. Every order has a different combo of four artisan sausages fried in polenta batter and artfully plated with mustard.
Some believe a corn dog is what you dip it in—hence the name Dippin’ Dog. Located near Northwestern University in Evanston, Wiener and Still Champion offers about 15 different dipping sauces for its corn dog, including garlic aioli and curry ketchup. The Dippin’ Dog has even been dipped by Guy Fieri on an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Even Wicker Park hipsters can get down with something as mainstream as a corn dog—especially one this good. The brioche-battered corn dogs (served beef or vegetarian) at Bangers & Lace in Chicago are among the best dogs on the menu, which is saying something for a gastropub that specializes in sausage.