Noted chef, author, television host, father, and world traveler Anthony Bourdain wasn't a food snob. Sure he could tell you what you should order at the swankiest of restaurants and what to look for in a good dining experience. Yet he also just enjoyed the everyday foods, that you might think someone with a culinary background like his might avoid. I'm talking about things like pizza, a deli sandwich, and yes, hot dogs.

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According to Food Republic, Bourdain loved New York-style hot dogs, his favorite, Gray's Papaya with mustard and sauerkraut. Yet, the globe-trotting food enthusiast and chef named the traditional Chicago dog "the finest hot dog on the planet" according to Eater Chicago.

So, what's a Chicago-style hot dog? First, the hot dog itself is steamed. As is the poppy seed bun, and the bun needs to have poppy seeds. I know that much. Look, there's nothing wrong with a grilled hot dog, or other kinds of buns, but that's NOT a Chicago-style dog. The hot dog itself also needs to be 100% beef.

Yet, it's the toppings that truly make the hot dog stand out. We "drag it through the garden" is a phrase that gets used a lot when it comes to hot dog toppings. Those toppings include yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright neon green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt.

BTW, most Chicagoans don't like ketchup on their hot dogs, but that "law" is more for show, as I know a few Chicagoans that have no problem if you want your dog made with ketchup. That said, expect to be made fun of if you walk into a Chicago hot dog stand that has posted signs talking about how they don't put ketchup on their hot dogs and ask for it.

Anyway, I asked chatGPT for some of Chicago's best places to buy a hot dog, and it spit out an interesting list.

  • Portillo's. Some Chicagoans give Portillo's a bad wrap because they've taken the art of the Chicago hot dog and Italian Beef sandwiches and a reputation for tasty food and become one of the Chicago area's biggest fast food restaurants. In other words, people don't like 'em because they're a chain. You won't go wrong with a dog from Portillo's, yet, at this point, it is somewhat of a corporate experience. That said, Portillo's is usually where I get my fix unless I'm going to the town I grew up in to the drive in I ate my first hot dog at.
  • Superdawg Drive-In. ChatGPT had this to say about Superdawg, " Superdawg is a classic drive-in restaurant that has been serving up Chicago-style hot dogs since 1948. Their iconic rooftop hot dog mascots make them instantly recognizable, and their hot dogs are top-notch." The classic drive-in is worth checking out in person. I know a few friends who patronize them regularly.
  • Gene & Judes. Their outside Chicago, but not too far, in River Grove. ChatGPT says, "They stick to the basics, serving up delicious dogs with mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, and a pickle spear." They tend to pile the fries up right around and on top of the dog. It's simple, old-school, and delicious if you ask me.
  • Weiner's Circle. This is THE hot dog place that gets a lot of national attention. The staff can be nasty, and if you don't know what you're ordering, or ask for ketchup on your hot dog, you're going to get crap from the people serving you. I'm not a huge fan of the gimmick that's gotten them noticed nationally. Although they do put funny stuff on their sign I agree with most of the time.

The rest of the list includes Byron's Hot Dogs in Chicago and the suburbs, Jim's Original Hot Dog on Maxwell Street, and Fatso's Last Stand in the Ukrainian Village. Jim's and Bryron's, if AI is to be believed offer more styles of hotdogs than just the traditional Chicago dog, as well.

Yeah, AI didn't do a bad job of picking Chicago Hot Dog places. Yet you can't go wrong with finding a hot dog place or drive-in that strikes your fancy and just dropping in for a dog. Most places do a pretty good job making a tasty one. I've listed a few other places I've gone to over the years, which you might want to consider if you're heading to Chicago. This list is by no means complete.

  • Gold Coast Dogs, they have a location at O'Hare Airport in terminal three. There may be one at Midway, although I didn't see it the last time I was there. They were also in the area of Chicago and State decades ago, whether they're still out there or not I don't know. Some web sleuthing made it seem like they are, but their website just goes to the O'Hare store's Facebook page. Whether at the airport or in Chicago, when I ate there I always liked it.
  • Mr. J's Dawg and Burger, located in that same area of Chicago and State right by Loyola Chicago's campus, Mr. J's was and is a favorite of Loyola Chicago's students and alumni.
  • Lucky Dog, with 4 Chicago locations, is where I got my hot dog fix the last time I was in Chicago. I stopped at the Beryn location for an excellent hot dog and a pizza puff!
  • Premo's Drive-In, Oak Lawn, is where I ate my first hot dog, and was the hot dog joint we always went to through our teenage years. Still excellent that last time I had it. Also, treat yourself to a twist (a cone with both vanilla and chocolate soft serve) with twinkle coat for dessert.

The bottom line is, whether you're a bot spitting out info fed to you, or you're just a hungry person looking for a hot dog in Chicago, it's hard to make a poor choice.

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