Chicago street food: hot dogs

Chicago style char beef dog

Since I was stuck at Chicago airport on my way to Toronto after a series of unfortunate events too long to tell (American Airlines’ usual self plus weather in Dallas and Chicago), I wanted to eat something that was typical of the city. Keeping this post about Chicago street food in mind, I narrowed the list down to two choices: deep dish pizza and hot dogs.

The pizza pies at Pizza UNO looked old and tired and totally unappetizing. Hot dog it was. I headed to Gold Coast Dogs and ordered a Chicago style hot dog. I must admit I was somewhat hesitant when the guy asked me “Do you want everything on it?” since I wasn’t sure what “everything” entailed, so my answer came out “Yeeeeeees?”

I was handed a rather messy but enjoyable char beef dog on a poppy seed bun with chopped onions, mustard (I have it on good authority that using ketchup is sacrilegious), sliced tomato, a rather suspicious-looking emerald green relish, pickle, celery salt and sports peppers (which I removed because they were too hot for me. I’m a wuss like that.)

This is going to sound nerdy but eating a hot dog in Chicago (albeit at the airport) made me feel closer to VI Warshawski (only those who read Sarah Paretsky know what the heck I’m talking about.)

I have one question that is open to discussion: should street food still be called street food if it’s prepared and eaten elsewhere (like an airport)? Or is it  a set category?

Published by


Hi, I'm Ana. I'm originally from Argentina but I'm currently living in Dallas (USA) with my British husband. I'd like to share my experiences as an expat and as a traveller.

6 thoughts on “Chicago street food: hot dogs”

  1. Wow…that radioactive-looking relish is a bit frightening. I have to admit that this hot dog doesn’t really strike me as very appealing. I am not a huge fan of hot dogs, and if I go the toppings route, I pick cheese and bacon. I’ve yet to try a hot dog here in Argentina. The super panchos scare me! lol

    I was thinking about your street food question, and I decided that for it to qualify as such, it has to be sold outside by a vendor or at a stall of some kind. I think that once you bring it inside, it ceases to be street food.


  2. Katie, my objection to super panchos is that I don’t think they change that greasy water too often! And I agree with you, there’s a reason it’s called street food but you never know…


  3. Food always tastes better when eaten outside, especially when being eaten on the street. So, with that I would say that the airport dog would have an asterisk next to it. Because a great Chicago style dog is still a great Chicago style dog (of course Hold The Ketchup) no matter where you may be eating one.


  4. hah, this was a great post. It looks like an authentic hot dog! The thing is, usually street food is not fine cuisine, it’s just something typical to the city that some people consider tasty and an easy cheap meal. Other people will never consider it tasty!


Would you like to share your thoughts on this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s