We prefer Lobel's, Larry -- available mail order; the review is by David Rosengarten:
The Chicago/New York Dog: Lobel's Hot Dogs ($14.98 per pound)
Luxury meats at luxury prices defines Lobel's butcher shop on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The source of their magnificent hot dogs is a family secret, but they did reveal that an 80-year-old Austrian wiener maker in Brooklyn supplies them exclusively to the shop. These dogs are long and thin, all-beef in a natural casing, have excellent "snap" and a great deal of juice. The restrained flavor has little smoke and moderate garlic, but the big meat flavor is right up front.
1096 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Last year he added a Chicago place to his favorites:
To a Chicago Hot Dog disciple, mecca is Superdawg, on the city's far Northwest Side. It’s a long taxi ride--but if you're into All Things American, I recommend you just bite the bullet and get your butt over there.
Superdawg was founded in 1948 by an accounting student and his young wife, a teacher in the public school system; they were looking to start a business that would keep them busy during the summer months.
They set up a drive-in stand at the end of the Chicago streetcar line that in 1948 must have looked slightly ahead of its time; today, after a few renovations, but with the two 12-foot-high humanoid hot dogs still winking and blinking at you from their perch on the roof, it looks like a nostalgic set for Happy Days.
The secret of success then, and now, is quality--and a slightly different way of doing things.
Most places in Chicago selling hot dogs use a brand called Vienna Beef, which is plenty good--and plenty garlicky, like a New York dog. Superdawg, ever the iconoclast, has its own dog custom-made--just as garlicky as Vienna Beef, but bigger, juicier, snappier, squirtier, with big curls of compact meat.
This dog is all beef--as they like to say at Superdawg, "no pork, no veal, no cereal, no filler." The fresh onions here are minced almost to a paste, and--because there's no year-round availability of good tomatoes--wedges of pickled green tomatoes are used instead. These are major variations on the theme. Top all that off--or, rather, don't--with no celery salt, because the owners "don't think it belongs."
The most important specific difference has to do with humidity. When you get your Superdawg at Superdawg, it comes not handed to you exposed, but inside a red-colored box, "contentedly cushioned in Superfries"--and with a steamed, almost soggy dewpoint, which aficionados think of as the ultimate comfort touch.
In fact, special rolls are formulated to be richer and sturdier, so the damp mass doesn't collapse. If there was ever any question about the compatibility of the various elements in a Chicago Hot Dog, it sure doesn't get raised here; the Superdawg treatment turns this specialty into one, heavenly, unified bite of Americana.
6363 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60646
773.478.7800 (tel, corporate office, catering)
773.763.0660 (to place an order)