Photo: Courtesy Phil's Last Stand
Carly Boers (Associate Editor):
Phil's Last Stand (2258 W. Chicago Ave., 773-245-3287)
It's just a stone's throw from home for me, and it's a fun and friendly joint. I love the dog-friendly outdoor patio. Everything I've tried is sinfully delicious, but my go-to (which came recommended by the counter person) is the tried-and-true Polish. It's juicy and fat and everything you could ever want in a dog.
Jeff Ruby (Chief Dining Critic):
Bryon's Hotdogs (1017 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-281-7474)
I have said for years—and it has made me very unpopular—that all hot dogs in Chicago are the same. They almost all come from the same place (Vienna beef) and (at the risk of being crude) all end up in the same place.
That said, I had a decent one at Byron's Hotdogs on Irving Park years ago. If you're going to get a Chicago-style dog, an inherently flawed creation, they do it well. It's still impossible to get every element of a Chicago dog in any particular bite, but this one had a good char and a strong bun. And that's basically all you can hope for.
Penny Pollack (Dining Editor):
Full disclosure: I am not a Chicago-dog hound. (The full load: Yellow mustard, white onions, green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt). And, of course, an all-beef frankfurter on a poppyseed bun.
I’m totally into the all-beef wiener and poppyseed-bun parts, but I am strictly an M.O.T. girl: That's mustard, onion, and tomato.
With that in mind, here are my picks.
Gold Coast Dogs (numerous locations)
Gold Coast Dogs is so not Gold Coast, I have to love it. It’s a quintessential dog joint where folks crowd in, take numbers, eat in the window, and wish they had ordered two dogs instead of one.
Portillo’s (100 W. Ontario St., 312-587-8910)
This all-purpose comfort-food palace has the busiest carry-out window in town, and the double line of cars clips right along (sometimes I think more people work outside than in). My go-to after working late, and I want to brown bag it home in a hurry. (The salads and signature chocolate cake are good, too!)
Michael’s (1879 Second Street, Highland Park 847-432-3338)
Between the dogs, the burgers, the Polish sausages, the Italian beef sandwiches, the mini pizzas, the falafel pockets, the wraps, and the Asian, Greek, and taco salads, Michael’s menu reads like a United Nations of fast food. I always go for the char dog, but also get off on the meet-and-greet North Shore vibe.
And in the age of artisan everything, I can’t ignore:
Hot Doug’s (3324 N. California Ave., 773-279-9550)
I roll the dice with the game of the week—could be boar, could be alligator—and I always get an order of duck-fat fries.
Franks ‘N’ Dawgs (1863 N. Clybourn Ave., 312-281-5187)
How can you not order a Pork of July this weekend: Pork loin & caramelized onions sausage, house-smoked pulled pork, cherry bourbon BBQ sauce , and house slaw. I say upgrade the slaw to a Brussels sprouts salad.