Many cities claim to have the best hotdog. New York, of course, with Nathan’s, Papaya King, Gray’s, Crif, and Shaller’s always claim to be the best. But my personal preference is for the Chicago dog. Why?
First, the Chicago dog is all beef, with a poppy seed bun. It is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. My favorite place to get the Chicago dog is Portillo’s in downtown Chicago. Hot Doug’s is a distant second. Second, Chicago is my kind of town, Chicago is!!!
Most people know the hot dog arrived in Chicago from Frankfurt, via Vienna. Frankfurt was known for pork sausages since the 13th century. Sometime in the 19th century, a butcher in Vienna added beef to the sausage mixture, creating the wiener-frankfurter. It reached Chicago, a bun was added, and the World’s Fair in 1893 featured Chicago dogs.
Another unique feature of Chicago dogs are the cooking method, either steamed or cooked in hot (not boiling water). Less common is the use of a charcoal grill, maybe a California thing? The typical dog weights two ounces or 1/8 pound (57 grams) and features a natural casing. And the bun must be steamed, not toasted or grilled!
Chicago has more hot dog stands than fast food restaurants. Other Chicago “rules” are: NO catsup, NO seedless bun, Vienna beef ONLY, must have “the works”, and heavy on the “salad” portion (tomatoes, pickles, and peppers). Oh, and the dog must be consumed in FIVE bites, no more, no less!! Beer and fries are the most common items to order with the Portillo dog.
Portillo’s started in 1963, when Dick Portillo bought a 6 by 12 foot trailer. There are currently 60 locations, with the closest one now in Scottsdale, AZ. Portillo did not invent the Chicago dog, he merely perfected it. The “neon” green relish is made by adding blue food coloring!
I just learned that each hot dog that you consume can shorten your life by 36 minutes. OK, here is another 26 minutes I am giving back to ??
Whenever I visit Chicago, I usually stop by Portillo’s for a dog or a Chicago beef. In fact, I do the same thing when I am in Scottsdale.