HotdogeriaChicago, home of the well-composed Chicago-style hot dog, is also ground zero for haute encased-meat cuisine. While many celebrated stands put their own spin on the original (including Gene & Jude’s, Byron’s, Superdawg, and Wiener’s Circle), several spots go farther afield, selling creative gourmet sausages. Here’s a guide to which are top dogs and which are just dogs.

711 W. Armitage Ave. 773-639-2976
Established 2011
Makes own sausages? No.
Gestalt It’s a hot dog stand.
Best Item Argentina: grilled Argentine sausage and chimichurri on a French roll ($4.50). A decent sausage, a goodish roll, and a thin spread of sour chimichurri add up to adequate. C-
Worst Item Canada: hot dog, mayo, maple syrup, and chopped chives ($3.75). Takes the challenging porky-lardy flavor inherent in hot dogs and makes it worse. F
Yeah, But . . . The hot dogs don’t taste that good. Throwing random ingredients on them doesn’t solve that problem.


Photograph: Courtesy of the restaurants


Chicago's Dog HouseCHICAGO'S DOG HOUSE
816 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-248-3647
Established 2009
Makes own sausages? No.
Gestalt With a pun-filled menu and pieced-together décor, Chicago’s Dog House has a sort of cultivated quirk.
Best Item Alligator sausage with Asian chili sauce and caramelized onions ($7.50). With a good sausage and supporting cast of toppings, this dish hits notes of sweet, smoky, spicy, and salty, but it’s grilled so long that it develops a woody crust of char. B
Worst Item French Poodle: Red Hot Chicago frank with Grey Poupon, pear, and Brie ($2.99). The toppings would be great on a crêpe, but the wiener is from a different universe. D
Yeah, But . . . Why do so many of the dogs have cilantro, cayenne, and caramelized onions?




11 N. Wells St., 312-445-9514
Established 2011
Makes own sausages? Yes.
Gestalt A bare-bones space with stools and a chalkboard, Westminster is all about its housemade sausages. Its goal is a high-quality artisanal workday lunch.
Best Item Jalapeño-bacon sausage with chipotle-cilantro mayo and queso fresco ($5.75). Sizable chunks of bacon and jalapeño in the sausage lend variety to different bites; the mayo and queso enrich the overall flavor. B+
Worst Item A special of apricot-ginger pork sausage with a ginger ale and honey mustard and Gouda ($6). The mustard oversteps its role, and the menu said Brie, not Gouda. C+
Yeah, But . . . Westminster makes its sausages in the morning and sells out by 1:30 p.m.




Franks 'n' DawgsFRANKS 'N' DAWGS
1863 N. Clybourn Ave., 312-281-5187
Established 2010
Makes own sausages? Yes, mostly. Ask.
Gestalt You order at a counter and may receive a picture of, say, the Jonas Brothers to identify you to the food runner, but these touches belie the seriousness of the food.
Best Item Brunch Dog (at right): pork loin breakfast sausage with corncob-smoked bacon, fried egg, and maple mayo ($8.50). Herby sausage, lingering smoke, and maple. The delicious mess of the fried egg makes for a knife-and-fork meal. A
Worst Item China Town Duck: Chinese five-spice duck sausage, pickled lotus root, scallion-radish slaw, and chili sauce ($9.25). Oversubtle, underdeveloped. B
Yeah, But . . . No quibbles. Franks ’n’ Dawgs is as good as Hot Doug’s, without the line.




3324 N. California Ave., 773-279-9550
Established 2001
Makes own sausages? No.
Gestalt With walls covered in hot dog memorabilia and the enthusiastic Doug taking your order, the place radiates a nerdy happiness.
Best Item Foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage with truffle aïoli, foie gras mousse, and fleur de sel ($9). A masterpiece that balances the richness of foie and truffles with the bright flavors in the aïoli and the bite of the salt. A+
Worst Item Apricot and brandy chicken sausage with passion-fruit mustard and blue-Brie cheese ($7.50). Like a cheese plate with the fruit-to-cheese ratio inverted. C
Yeah, But . . . The line is just as long as you imagine. Actually, it’s longer.