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Publication Ranks Chicago No. 1 Nationwide For Hot Dogs

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CHICAGO (CBS) — It won’t likely come as a surprise to Chicagoans, but a Web-based food publication has found that there are more hot dog stands in Chicago than any other U.S. city.

The Daily Meal has ranked Chicago the No. 1 city for hot dogs, and describes the classic Chicago hot dog right down to the celery salt. The publication also warns visitors, “Ketchup is never allowed.”

The Daily Meal says there are 98 hot dog stands in Chicago, but only two of the three it recommends “most highly” are actually in the city; the third is in River Grove.

At the top of the list is Hot Doug’s, the venerable “Encased Meats Emporium” at 3324 N. California Ave. in the Avondale neighborhood, where lines snake around the block for traditional hot dogs, wild game sausages made with meats as exotic as kangaroo, and an assortment of other sausages inspired by the cuisines of the world.

Owner Doug Sohn gained notoriety in 2006 for being the only restauranteur to be cited for violating the city’s short-lived foie gras ban, after he continued to offer a hot dog dressed with foie gras when the ban was in effect.

Also on the list is Gene and Jude’s, at 2720 River Rd. in River Grove. The stand was founded on the West Side 1946 by Chicago city workers Gene Mormino and Jude DeSantis, and has been in its current location since 1951. It has been featured by the magazine “Every Day with Rachael Ray.”

Gene and Jude’s is known for its traditional Chicago hot dogs – minus the pickle, tomato and celery salt – and ketchup is nowhere to be found, Time Out Chicago reports. Until the 1970s, there were no napkins either.

The Daily Meal also recommends the Wieners Circle, at 2622 N. Clark St. in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The small, squat building is popular with late-night customers returning from bars in the area, and is known for its char-broiled hot dogs.

But the Wieners Circle is also known for the (usually) good-natured verbal abuse that is traded between patrons and staff. Customers are also known for requesting a certain item that is not acutally on the menu, as code for female employees to lift up their shirts for the crowd as the lights begin to flicker.

The Wieners Circle and its atmosphere has been the subject of both radio and television stories on Ira Glass’ “This American Life.”

Chicago scores impressively in other food categories. The city is second only to New York for pizza places, and second to Houston for taco joints. Chicago comes in third for ice cream parlors – Los Angeles ranks first – and fourth for fried chicken – with Dallas coming in first.

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