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'Poor Chicago' No Second City When It Comes to Hot Dogs

By DNAinfo Staff on April 25, 2013 6:59am  | Updated on April 25, 2013 9:39am

CHICAGO — Maybe Rachel Shteir just needs to eat a hot dog. Chicago style.

The DePaul theater professor had Chicagoans boiling after slamming the "Second City" in a New York Times book review last week. But, frankly, she forgot one thing: Chicago is never second when it comes to hot dogs.

The city is home to three of the top 10 hot dogs in America, including No. 1, according to an informal search for America's 35 Best Hot Dogs by TheDailyMeal.com.

"Chicago, more so than any other city, is a hot dog town," said Dan Myers, TheDailyMeal.com editor.

The prestigious best-in-show title was taken by the "Mighty Dog," a tamale dog at Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots in Marquette Park.

"I don't even know how people eat it, to tell you the truth," said Judy Pawlikowski, Johnnie's wife. "But people love it."

Chicago had four dogs in the top 35 — more than any other city.

Hot Doug's was No. 3, with a "Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage," Superdawg was No. 6, with the "Superdawg," and The Wiener Circle was No. 27 with its "Double Chardog."

Although Shteir was bugged by Chicago's "swagger," and "bloviating," in her book review, she didn't mention wiener pride, which Myers notes is strong in Chicagoans.

"In Chicago, it seems like there's a great hot dog stand on nearly every block. And Chicagoans are fiercely passionate about them," he said.

The top 35 ranking was based on user reviews from Yelp, reputation among "local tastemakers," use of quality ingredients and the "entire experience," from driving up to the joint to sinking your teeth into the first bite, according to TheDailyMeal.com.

Pawlikowski credited her husband's No. 1 Best Hot Dog in America to his use of fresh ingredients, like cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, and his personality.

"He's a great, outgoing man," she said.

Chicago's wiener kings and queens have worked hard for their reputation. 

"There's a big difference between not screwing something up and turning it into a paradigm-shifting, transcendental dining experience," TheDailyMeal.com said.

"They've raised it to an art form," Myers added.

Shteir's former home of New York scored three spots in the Top 35: the highest being Katz's Deli at No. 8.

Myers said the East Coast metropolis is more of a "pizza town that happens to have some pretty good hot dogs."

"But most aren't that great," he said.

Poor New York, indeed.