The Best Chicago-Style Hot Dog in LA
This is not a competition for the all-around best hot dog in LA. You can find a hot dog served in any conceivable manner in this city, there’s a dog for everyone. Is a Chicago-style hot dog better than any other hot dog you can find or make? Even though it all comes down to personal preference, the answer is still yes. It’s so good that every time I eat one with a newbie, they all say the exact same thing, “Damn, homey just smashed it.” It’s so good that it puts your life in perspective.
The Chicago-style hot dog has strict criteria. It’s a Vienna Beef Hot Dog with mustard, chopped onion, relish (neon green in color), tomatoes, sport peppers, celery salt, and a pickle all served on a poppy seed bun. Eating one will keep you going, eating two will take you out, eating three is suicide, but at least you’ll go out with a smile.
To have a solid basis of comparison for the competition, I ate at some of Chicago’s finest hot dog stands such as Portillo’s, Wrigleyville Dogs, Hot Doug’s, and Wiener’s Circle. Wiener’s Circle had the best looking dog, so we’ll use it as the standard.
There are so many toppings that you can barely see the hot dog.
I excluded Oki Dog, Skooby’s, and Papoo’s because they don’t serve a Chicago-Style. I also left out Portillo’s in Buena Park because it’s in Buena Park.
The competitors are: QT’s Chicago Dogs, Carney’s, Rubin’s Red Hot, Weiner Factory, Pink’s, The Stand, and Taste Chicago. They’ll be ranked on authenticity, price, and overall taste.
QT’s Chicago Dogs
4344 Woodman Ave. Sherman Oaks
QT’s has everything going for it. They have Chicago posters from the 80’s (Ditka everywhere), an old arcade system where you can pick from like four Neo-Geo games, and a menu stacked with bad health choices. They even serve the dreaded Maxwell St. Polish, a polish sausage with grilled onions and mustard. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
QT’s Chicago-style hot dog had all the right ingredients, a cheap price, and a good taste. The only knock I have against QT’s is that they can be inconsistent, but this is the only place in the city where you can grab a Chicago-style and beer in the same building, so that goes a long way.
8351 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood
The Chicago-style here is called the Chicagoan. As in, it’s Chicago-like. I wouldn’t even give it that much credit. They should rename it â€˜The hot dog you can make at Costco plus a dollar-fifty.’ I almost have sympathy for how bad this thing is.
Rubin’s Red Hot
15322 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks
Rubin’s was recommended to me a while ago and any hot dog stand that has the words â€˜Red Hot’ in it is usually a score. What I didn’t know is that Rubin’s Red Hot had closed some time ago and was now inhabited by some homeless people. I peered through the glass to look inside and saw a solid menu and what looked like a family genealogy that started in Chicago. Despite being shut down and surrounded by meth paraphernalia, it’s getting a better review than Carney’s because it looked like it had potential.
14917 Ventura Bl, Sherman Oaks
I asked the guy at Wiener Factory (who looked a lot like Jim from The Office) if they serve a Chicago-style. He said they had everything but tomatoes. That’s more toppings to the Chicago-style than many other hot dog stands, so I took a chance. Twenty minutes later, I forgot I even ate there. I would have completely forgotten about it but I was watching The Office one day and it came back to me.
709 N. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles
It seems like Pink’s creates a new hot dog every other week. They’ve made so many new ones that they’re running out of celebrities to name them after. Last week I saw a dog called the LeVar Burton. But what’s the point of creating new hot dogs if you can’t get the standards right? Pink’s serves their Chicago-style with a polish instead of a regular hot dog. It’s blasphemy. The most frustrating thing is that you know Pink’s has all the ingredients necessary to make a decent Chicago-style, but they don’t bother to get it right. If Pink’s could serve the classics right, they would be worth the line.
P.S. It’s time Pink’s created The Dilla Dog. It can be served on a donut.
1700 Ventura Blvd. Encino
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City (right behind CAA)
You can usually tell that a restaurant is good just by looking at the menu. The criteria is simple: the menu offers unique choices amongst the profitable standards. The Stand’s Chicago-style is $3.95, more money than anyone should pay for a hot dog. But that doesn’t really matter in this case because it’s worth it. All the ingredients are fresh, the size is perfect, and most of all, it tastes great. It’s so good that addicts prefer it to crack. Go to The Stand and try one. With the first bite you will be able to tell the difference between a regular hot dog and that of a champion. And now that there’s a Stand in Century City, you can’t say it’s too far anymore.
603 N. Hollywood Way Burbank
I had a good feeling going into Taste Chicago because they rock the Vienna Beef sign.
I can’t say enough about how important the Vienna Beef sign is. It’s code for â€˜Do yourself a favor and eat here.’ It’s almost always right, which is why it was so disappointing after I finished Taste Chicago’s hot dog. It’s a good-looking dog, but it was really bland. The dog’s bun was more like a big slice of bread, and it drowned out what little flavor the hot dog might have had. This one tasted more like a sandwich.
So to recap, The Stand and QT’s are the only restaurants that play for keeps. The Stand is the best lunch pick you can ask for. QT’s is perfect for the Friday night where you’re too tired to go out, but you still want to hang, so you call your friend in the Valley (everyone has one) and bring over dogs, fries, and a 6-pack of some weird beer you bought on a dare. Don’t waste your time trying a Chicago-style anywhere else. Unless you happen to be in Buena Park, then get some Portillo’s.