Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicago-style hot dogs

I don't care what anyone says - America's national food has got to be the hot dog.  The Tribune recently reported that between Memorial Day and Labor Day alone (the American summer), 300 million Americans consume 7 billion hot dogs.  7 BILLION!  While hot dogs for Australians mean those awful, pallid things encased in violent pink skin that is wont to split unappetisingly, American hot dogs are actually more like sausages, albeit heavily processed ones.  Many brands are available that do not have any fillers or byproducts.  Kosher brands are particularly well regarded.

Byron's in Wrigleyville, Chicago, serve dogs by the Vienna Beef company, favourite of many Chicago hole-in-the-wall dog joints, and they are famous for their own take on Chicago-style toppings. 

A Chicago-style hot dog is topped with mustard, relish, raw onion, pickle spear, tomato, celery salt (ground celery seeds mixed with salt), and "sport peppers" (small, hot chillis).  Byron's adds cucumber and capsicum and uses pickle rounds instead of long spears.  To add tomato sauce (ketchup) is sacrilege.

Spot the hot dog under all of that!  It really is the best way to eat a hot dog.  The processed, salty meat is tempered by all the fresh vegies and tangy pickle, relish, and mustard.

Byron's recently served their famous hot dogs at the White House's annual congressional picnic. Good choice - the Obamas are Chicagoans, after all!

Byron's Hot Dogs (map)
1017 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60613


  1. America America America! Woot! (I'm sorry, I'm just despertely excited for your USA posts.)

    Must say I'm not much of a hot dog gal myself, but throw pickles on anything and my ears prick up...

  2. My favourite hot dog was from a stall in NYC with a view of Liberty. Food in Chicago was ace and it is one of my favourite places apart from my hometown Hobart.

  3. One I'll have a proper hot-dog. I love your description of the 'violent pink skin', made me laugh, and agree sadly.

  4. Ours in U.K. sound like yours in Australia!

  5. Thank you all! Hannah, I am so glad - I was considering not posting anything from the US after all, as I wasn't sure if people would tune out. Thanks for the encouragement!

    I never, ever eat hot dogs in Australia. Totally gross. The ones here in the States bear resemblance in name only, though.

    Mary, Chicago food is sooo delicious and so bad for you! I love Hobart and in another life, would love to live there or anywhere in Tas.


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