A Chicago-style hot dog, known locally as a Chicago Dog, is a steamed or water-simmered, kosher-style, all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun, originating from the city of Chicago, Illinois.
The classic Chicago hot dog includes a frankfurter by Vienna Beef (a local food processor and hallowed institution), heaps of chopped onions and green relish, a slather of yellow mustard, pickle spears, fresh tomato wedges, a dash of celery salt, and, for good measure, two or three "sport" peppers, those thumb-shaped holy terrors that turn your mouth into its own bonfire.
Chicago is home to many standout hot-dog spots but one, Hot Doug's, 3324 N. California Ave. (at Roscoe St., tel. 773/279-9550), takes encased meats to a new level, featuring several gourmet sausages on a bun every day except Sunday (plan on standing in line no matter which day you show up -- and it's always worth it). Hot Doug's also serves a great classic Chicago dog just like many other stands in town, including Gold Coast Dogs, 159 N. Wabash Ave., at Randolph Street (tel. 312/917-1677), in the Loop just a block from Michigan Avenue. Portillo's, 100 W. Ontario St. (at Clark St.; tel. 312/587-8930), is another local chain that specializes in hot dogs but also serves tasty pastas and salads. Murphy's Red Hots, 1211 W. Belmont Ave. (at Racine Ave.; tel. 773/935-2882), is a neighborhood spot not too far from Wrigley Field, while The Wieners Circle, in Lincoln Park at 2622 N. Clark St. (btw. Wrightwood Ave. and Drummond Place; tel. 773/477-7444), is a late-night favorite where rude order-takers are part of the shtick.
If you've got a car, head up to Superdawg Drive-In, 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave. (at Devon Ave.; tel. 773/763-0660), on the northwest side of the city (look for the giant hot dogs dressed as Tarzan and Jane on the roof). This classic 1950s-style flashback has been run by the same family for three generations, and, yes, they still have carhops who bring out your order.