The All-Time Definitive Power Ranking of Chicago Hot Dog Stand Names
The Chicago-style hot dog. A food item as distinctive as the city itself, the Chicago dog represents man’s innate will to impose his own style upon the commodities we produce and consume, as well as Chicago’s deep well of antipathy towards ketchup. But an important part of what makes Chicago’s hot dogs so unique revolves around the purveyors of our all-American beef.
Which Chicago hot dog stand is the best remains open to debate, but there is one aspect that we can objectively evaluate: their name. From wiener puns to canine references, no two hot dog stands in the Chicagoland area are alike, but all remain committed to the unique sense of place, style, and humor that sets Chicago and its frankfurters alike from any other city. Without further ado, here is the definitive power ranking of Chicago’s Top 25 all-time hot dog stand names:
This name for the Chicagoland’s mega-purveyor of encased meat trimming is neither a) a pun, b) a reference to a particular location, or c) interesting. Somehow, I don’t think that Dick Portillo, kingpin of the $250 million Portillo’s empire, will find this ranking too dispiriting.
24. Gene & Jude’s, 2720 River Road, River Grove
This stand’s name is about as boring and nondescript as the suburb Gene & Jude’s inhabits.
23. 35th Street Red Hots, 500 W. 35th Street
Okay, fine, “35th Street Red Hots” is a decent, if unimaginative, name for a red hot stand located on 35th Street. But Christ what a waste of potential. I mean, this location is right next to
U.S. Cellular Field Comiskey Park. Just think of the pun potential! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t rather eat at a place called “Frank Thomas’ Franks” or “A.J.’s World Champion Wieners.” This city used to build things. This place used to be the city of broad shoulders. Now I guess Chicago is just the city that gave up trying when a perfectly good pun opportunity like “Put Some Mustard On It” comes along.
22. Gold Coast Dogs
Gold Coast Dogs gets points for the upper class sausages portrayed in its logo that are exactly in keeping with the demographics of Chicago’s Gold Coast, but I’m substantially marking them down for calling themselves “Gold Coast” Dogs while maintaining two stands in O’Hare, one in Midway, and one in Union Station. If this stand is going to name itself after its location, then it should be called “People With Jobs And A Family In The Suburbs Commuting For Work Dogs.”
21. The Original Maxwell Street Station, 6659 S. Cicero Avenue
This stand is neither the “original” Maxwell Street Polish (that title belong’s to Jim’s Original, at no. 16) nor is it located next to the Maxwell Street Police Station. But kudos for trying.
20. Wolfy’s Hot Dogs, 2734 W. Peterson Avenue
Wolf. Like a dog. Or like a dog’s fellow member of the canis genus. I get it. Ha.
19. Vienna Beef Factory, 2501 N. Damen Avenue
Unless this hot dog stand is comprised entirely of burly men with Wario-caliber mustaches shouting “Who wants some beef!?” at the top of their lungs, I have trouble getting excited about the Vienna Beef Factory’s name. But hey, at least somebody is still making things in this city that isn’t an NBC cop/fireman drama.
18. Murphy’s Red Hot Joint, 1211 W. Belmont Avenue
Okay Chicago, let’s get something straight. You can’t just pick a man’s name that ends with an “ee” sound, turn it into a possessive noun, and add “Red Hots” after it for every other goddamn hot dog shack in the city. I’ll let it slide this time, though, because some people refer to Murphy’s as a “Red Hot Joint,” which is too good of an entendre to pass up.
17. Devil Dawgs, 2147 N. Sheffield Avenue
Alliteration is always a positive — the phonic agreement is as pleasing to my ears as the sound of Hawk Harrelson’s commentary. But never trust a hot dog stand that spells dogs “dawgs.” They’re either trying too hard, or they probably put ketchup on their hot dogs.
16. Jim’s Original, 1250 S. Union Avenue
Originally located in its original location on Maxwell Street, the origin story of Jim’s Original has its origins in the original “original” Maxwell Street Polish Stand. Jim’s Original would like to make their status as the original inventors of the original polish sausage sandwich quite clear.
15. Chicago’s Dog House, 816 W. Fullerton Avenue
Any good hot dog stand should have an idiom for a name, a clever play on dual figurative meanings. You know, a cultural metaphor. Chicago’s “Dog House” is the first halfway decent idiomatic joke on this list.
14. Phil’s Last Stand (a.k.a. Fatso’s Last Stand), 2258 W. Chicago Avenue
While Phil/Fatso’s Last Stand comes nowhere close to touching Mustard’s Last Stand (no. 2 on the list) for quality of name, it’s still a solid attempt to combine a sense of heroism against overwhelming odds with a small shack that sells steamed parts of a pig.
13. Byron’s Hot Dog Haus
Spelling “house” like “haus!?” BRILLIANT! Byron’s Haus combines a fun phrase with umlauts and a German history that brought us our coronary-inducing passion for sausage.
12. U.B. Dogs, 185 N. Franklin Street
You be dogs? No, you’re a dog.
I don’t know, this one just felt so right.
11. Superdawg, 6363 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Everything about Superdawg is super, from its name to the carhop service to the anthropomorphic Superdawg mascots Maurie and Flaurie guarding over Superdawg’s dominion. Just don’t look Maurie in the ey…. Shit. Oh fuck. Maurie’s red glare is penetrating into the depths of my soul. I’m awash in a red hot light. Everything smells like mustard. Everything. I’m moving outside of my body and onto Milwaukee Avenue and I feel like I’m being hugged by Mike Ditka’s sweater and why is John Belushi’s head swaying in and out of my vision and oh god I’m being sucked in to Maurie’s eyes I can feel his leopard-skin thong wrap around my body and I am one with Maurie and I am Maurie and I feel the throbbing pulse of the city in my wiener and everything just tastes like celery salt and…
10. Irving’s For Red Hot Lovers, 3207 Lake Avenue, Wilmette
How the hell did a Wilmette stand get this high on the list, Chicago? It’s this kind of shit that lost Chicago the Olympics. Irving is just such a goofy name for a human, I happen to love red hots, and it’s a play on words for “red hot lovers.” Oh Irving. You get me.
9. Red Hot Ranch, 2072 N. Western Avenue
I once had a dream that I sat in a field of puppies dressed like hot dogs that ran around and licked my face. If you combined Obama’s 2004 speech at the Democratic Convention with the memory of MJ’s last shot for the Bulls, you still wouldn’t come close to how amazing that dream felt.
8. Chubby Wieners, 4652 N. Western Avenue
Props for the wiener joke, but it’s just too easy. Any asshole in Wrigleyville can point out that a hot dog resembles a human phallus (albeit a slightly girthier one than most Cubs fans sport). You’ve got to step up your game if you want to move up on the list.
7. Pluto’s Original Beef and Hot Dogs, 10341 S. Cicero Avenue, Oak Lawn
I’m assuming that this name refers to Pluto the Dog, not Pluto the artist that was formerly known as a planet. (R.I.P.) Nothing says “Chicago” like eating a hot dog named after a comic dog before visiting Mayor Daley’s grave and beating the everliving shit out of a hippie in his honor.
6. Westminster Hot Dog, 11 N. Wells Street
Elegance. Tradition. Refinement. Pickled sport peppers and a poppy seed bun. These are the things that make our country great.
5. Wiener and Still Champion, 802 Dempster Street, Evanston
“Wiener and Still Champion” is an absolutely incredible name, and it’s a testament to the strength and ingenuity of Chicago that it fell as low as 5th place amid stiff competition. The reference to a winning boxing champion paired with a superbly clever use of the term “wiener” is awesome in its own right, but the fact that the name was the result of a local grade-school competition is nothing short of incredible. Also they have country-friend bacon, so, you know, sploosh.
4. Flub A Dub Chub’s Hotdog Emporium, 3021 N. Broadway Avenue
As we’re about to see, somebody else already has dibs on an “emporium” dedicated to encased meats, but I love everything else about the name “Flub A Dub Chub’s.” It’s goofy, it rolls off the tongue, it works in a subtle penile reference, and you can’t help but smile when you say the name. Any stand whose name results in the motto “Come in hungry, leave with a chubby” is a wiener in my book.
3. The Wieners Circle, 2622 N. Clark Street
The Wieners Circle sports by far the most complex and humorous “wiener” pun of them all. Combining horse racing, ding-a-lings, and frankfurters, it’s a name that we can all relish. Depending on your point of view, The Wieners Circle is either a unique and authentic hot dog stand or a microcosm of the city’s virulent segregation, but I think we can all come together in appreciation of its name.
2. Mustard’s Last Stand, 1613 Central Street, Evanston
Maybe it’s the presence of so many nerds from Northwestern, but somehow Evanston has a couple of bomb-ass hot dog stand names, and Mustard’s Last Stand is the most ingenious of them all. Combining a joke about condiments with a reference to General Custer’s last stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn THAT ALSO REFERS TO THE FACT THAT THE PLACE IS, IN FACT, A HOT DOG STAND is a piece of breathtaking beauty on par with the Wildcats’ incredible ability to blow a fourth quarter lead.
1. Hot Doug’s Encased Meat Emporium, 3324 N. California Avenue
This may just be sentimentality talking here following the news of Hot Doug’s impending closure, but nobody’s got shit on Hot Doug’s. Featuring an imaginative incorporation of both its purveyor’s name and its purpose, as well as proclaiming itself a “Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium,” there are so many things about Hot Doug’s to love, starting with its inconceivably kick-ass name.