Oct 31, 2019

A commoner dines at Windy City Hot Dogs, Chicago

A commoner’s quest to find the best Chicago-style hot dog in and around Chicagoland takes a turn east of Midway Airport, more specifically onto West 63rd Street between Cicero Avenue and Pulaski Road. 

Just look for the red metal sign in front of the small shack on the south side of the road, and you’ll be at Windy City Hot Dogs. 

At first glance, Windy City Hot Dogs is very much like many other local stands devoted to Chicago’s favorite fast foods.  Banners proudly boasting Vienna beef hot dogs served here?  Check.  The “big three” of hot dogs, gyros and Italian beef sandwiches easily identified on the signage?  Check.  Homemade construction paper signs identifying off-menu specials?  Check. And, all of these visuals enhanced by the smell of deep fryer wafting through the air?  Check!    

But where Windy City seems to stand out is with its friendly service and family-run atmosphere.  Don’t expect to be ignored when you enter.   Do expect, however, for your decision on what to order to get a little tougher.  They have all the classics and a whole lot more (I read the wings here are exceptional!), and the grill and fryer always seem to be going.

Although I have to question their loose definition of what counts as a vegetarian food option. I also can’t be too sure many of these will benefit those calorie counters out there.  But in all honesty, if you’re worried about the nutritional value of your next meal, this probably isn’t the place for you.     

Windy City Hot Dogs does have a steady stream of business, but fortunately it has never felt packed while I’ve been there.  With a handful of stools and one narrow counter comprising all the seating, it’s easy to see why places like Windy City are called hot dog “stands.”    

Per custom on my first trip to an untested hot dog joint, I got the two hot dogs and fries on special, which only set me back $5 plus tax.  The fries were obviously made fresh, as steam rose out of the bag when they were served.  They had an excellent crisp to them and were perfectly salted.  It wasn’t as big of a portion as Nicky’s, but that’s perfectly fine.

The dogs were very good – not outstanding but certainly not disappointing.  Sometimes the best part of a Chicago-style hot dog is the quality of the accoutrements, and that’s OK, too.  In this case, I was pleasantly surprised by how one large tomato wedge placed perfectly can influence almost every bite.  The sport peppers on these dogs also hit the spot – bursting with juiciness, a nice crunch and not overwhelmingly spicy.   

It’s apparent from online reviews that Windy City Hot Dogs gets a lot of business from both regular devotees and visitors flying in and out of Midway Airport looking for a Chicago dog fix.  I’d say the largely positive comments are well justified.  So, it’s not my all-time favorite Chicago-style hot dog (I’m still giving that honor to Wiener’s Circle for now).  At Windy City Hot Dogs, you still get good fast food from a local spot, cheap prices and quick and friendly service.  What more can you ask for?   

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