Ask the Critics: Where Can I Get Chicago-Style Hot Dogs?


Mark L. asks: I’ve been craving a Chicago-style hot dog. Who makes the best one in New York?

Dear Mark: Having spent several years living in Chicago, I can appreciate your love of the Chicago-style hot dog, which differs from the classic New York rendition by topping a steamed or boiled Vienna Beef dog with chopped onions, relish, tomato slices, a pickle spear, sport peppers, and celery salt, all on a poppy-seed bun. Given our city’s great love of hot dogs, you’d think more places would offer it, but really nothing compares. Nevertheless, here are a few options that aren’t too bad.

My favorite of all can be found at Shake Shack. It’s still no Wiener’s Circle, but the Shack-cago Dog is, as close as I can tell, your best bet, mostly because it replicates the requisite poppy-seed bun and offers a decent amount of celery salt, which seems to be lacking at most places. Plus at $4, it’s pretty affordable.

Midtown sports bar Foley’s also offers up a double Vienna Frank dog, served with relish, onion, tomato, and pickles, for $11.95. It’s not super-authentic, but at least they get the brand of dog right. And hey, you get to eat two hot dogs at once!

The new dog-centric bar Growler Bites and Brews offers a sort of upscale Chicago-style dog, served on a fancy brioche-style bun (sacrilege, yes). It’s full of tomatoes, onion, relish, pickles, and sport peppers, though the mustard is served on the side, and the celery salt could have been shaken on a little harder. Still, it makes for a tasty lunch, and the frank itself was moist and juicy, plus you get a big stack of homemade potato chips on the side. Though at $7, I’d expect a side of something.

I haven’t sampled it, but my colleague Robert Sietsema seemed to enjoy his Chicago-style dog from Snap, the pop-up shop that’s set to roll through the city as a food truck in 2012. They grill their dogs, and use fancier meats, but you gotta take what you can get here in the Big Apple.

So at least that’ll help assuage your craving, though it might not completely fulfill all your hopes and dreams. And if all else fails, you can order the Chicago-style hot dog kit from the Vienna Beef website and have it shipped to your doorstep.