CHICAGO — It doesn't need to be National Hot Dog Day for Chicagoans to enjoy a sausage that's been dragged through the garden and put on a poppy seed bun.
But since Thursday is, in fact, National Hot Dog Day, you have an excuse to make sure the family grabs a dog. After all, we have some catching up to do: Los Angeles residents apparently eat more hot dogs than Chicagoans (which ranks at No. 4 for consumption), according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.
You can stick to the classic Chicago dog — don't even look at ketchup — but why not try something new? DNAinfo Chicago has rounded up some of the craziest, most inventive hot dogs sold in the city:
The barbecue apple brandy duck sausage from Chicago's Dog House. [Facebook/Chicago's Dog House]
Location: 816 W. Fullerton Ave. in Lincoln Park
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday
Outrageous dog: Their alligator sausage is smoked and then slathered in caramelized onions and sweet chili sauce. It sells for $8, which means you can transform an apex predator into a hot dog and then eat it, and it might cost less than your morning Starbucks.
Chubby Wieners has a six-ounce smoked bacon cheddar sausage topped with Texas barbecue sauce and fried onion chips. [Facebook/Chubby Wieners]
Location: 4662 N. Western Ave. in Lincoln Square
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Outrageous dog: Why settle for a mere hot dog when you can have a quarter-pound Chubby Weiner? This joint's signature 100 percent beef dog is served up a number of ways, but if you've come this far then you might as well go for broke and order the deep-fried Señor Gordo, which also happens to be wrapped in bacon.
Fat Johnnie's is the kind of place that makes you happy you just inhaled a hot dog and tamale. [Yelp/Mandy Y.]
Location: 7242 S. Western Ave. in Marquette Park
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Outrageous dog: Johnnie's Mighty Dog combines classic ingredients like a sausage, tomatoes and onions with a tamale (yes, the tamale is in the bun) and cucumber. It sounds insane, but it works: "THIS is a hot dog," one reviewer declared on Yelp.
Flub A Dub Chub's Chihuahua. [Instagram/FlubADubChubHotDogs]
Location: 3021 N. Broadway in Lakeview
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
Outrageous dog: "The Chihuahua's" bark is as good as its bite: It's a sausage wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and then covered in sour cream, sliced avocado and homemade salsa.
Franks 'N' Dawgs makes the perfect hot dog for when you're feeling fancy — like this chilaquiles dawg. (Facebook/Franks 'n' Dawgs)
Location: 1863 N. Clybourn Ave. in Lincoln Park
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Outrageous dog: Franks 'N' Dawgs is the place to go if you want your dog to feel fancy. There's a brunch dog ($8.50) with a pork loin breakfast sausage, Cobb-smoked bacon and a fried egg with a maple mayo drizzle. There's also a Lamb-orghini ($8.50): a lamb barese sausage with giardiniera, Calabrian chili aioli and deep-fried basil.
The hot dogs come on a brioche bun because regular buns just don't cut it sometimes.
Haute Sausage doesn't know the meaning of "boring" when it comes to hot dogs. [Facebook/Haute Sausage]
Location: 335 S. Franklin St. in The Loop, or various locations for its food trucks
Hours: The store is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Check out Haute Sausage's Twitter for updates on the food trucks' hours and locations.
Outrageous dog: Their "corn bread gator" dog features smoked gator sausage with homemade cornbread and jalapeno pineapple barbecue sauce ($10 or $5 for a shortie), and they have jumbo bacon sausages smothered in poblano and grilled corn guacamole with Merkt's cheddar and chipotle mayo ($10 or $5 for a shortie).
Don't speak. Just stare and breathe heavily. [Yelp/Brenda C.]
Location: 4655 S. King Drive in Grand Boulevard
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Outrageous dog: If you've ever wondered how much stuff you can possibly fit into a hot dog, H-Dogs has the answer: Its turducken cobb dog features turducken (turkey, duck, chicken) sausage topped with lettuce, tomato, chopped turkey bacon and bleu cheese dressing.
You can't imagine anything better. You can't.
Hot Dog Station has a Diablo Hot Dog. Enough said. [Yelp/To P.]
Location: 4742 N. Kimball Ave. in Albany Park
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Outrageous dog: This National Hot Dog Day, ask yourself, "What would Hot Doug do?" The answer: He'd go to Hot Dog Station. That's where Doug Sohn, Chicago's king of encased meats, ate his first post-Hot Doug's hot dog. Standouts on the menu include the Diablo Hot Dog, $3.29 — chorizo sausage, jalapenos, onions and jalapeno cheese — and the Baltimore Hot Dog ($3.99), which is deep fried and smothered in melted cheddar, bacon and onions.
Bonus: Hot Dog Station is participating in Albany Park's Bon Appetit Restaurant Week through Sunday. Mention the "Bon Appetit special menu" when you order and get a Chicago-style dog, fries and a drink for $5.
Hot Doug's legend lives on at Wrigley Field. (Yelp/Shauna D.)
Location: Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison St. in Wrigleyville
Outrageous dog: You thought it was gone. You were wrong: Hot Doug's sausages, famous for transforming the classic beef-and-bun combo, are being sold at Wrigley Field, and the duck fat fries are coming soon. There are three hot dogs being sold for now, including a bacon cheeseburger sausage with cola barbecue sauce and sharp cheddar cheese.
Hot "G" Dog specializes in exotic, tasty dogs. [Yelp/Steven B.]
Location: 5009 N. Clark St. in Uptown
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Outrageous dog: The successor of Hot Doug's, Hot "G" Dog is owned by two former Doug's line cooks. That means they specialize in outrageous hot dogs, from smoked shrimp sausages to pheasant dogs with cognac. Their specials change every week.
Superdawg has classics and more adventurous hot dogs. [Yelp/Jessica M.]
Location: 6363 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Norwood Park
Hours: 11-1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday
Outrageous dog: Superdawg takes a Romanian, Hungarian, Polish sausage and douses it in special sauce, tosses on grilled onion and a pickle and serve it all in a Whoopskiroll. It's the sort of thing that makes you remember why this place is a national treasure.
Big Star isn't just for tacos. [Yelp/Sarah S.]
Location: 1531 N. Damen Ave. in Wicker Park
Hours: The kitchen is open 11:30-1:30 a.m. Monday-Friday, 11-2:30 a.m. Saturday, 11-1:30 a.m. Sunday.
Outrageous dog: Though Big Star is known for its tacos, there are quite a few fans of its Sonoran hot dog — unfortunately, it's now been taken off the menu. The Sonoran was a huge sausage with bacon in a bun slathered with your favorites: onions, tomatoes, beans, green hot sauce, mustard and mayonnaise.
Hat tip to the reader who alerted us to the Sonoran's departure, who said he "remember[s] that day sadly" because it was his favorite.
Location: 4603 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lincoln Square
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday
Outrageous dog: A holiday devoted to encased meats isn't exactly vegetarian-friendly, so here's a meatless option that's like the hot dog's second cousin twice removed: the Reverse Coney. It swaps out the Coney's beef chili for beans and adds cheese curds, raw onion, yellow mustard cream sauce and oyster crackers, served atop a bed of tortilla chips. In a bag.
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