Gene & Jude’s, just a few minutes the other side of O’Hare Airport, is hugely popular, but it is relatively small and extremely modest. There are no tables or chairs at all; as is Chicago custom, the eatery offers a chest-high counter to which you may bring your meal, unwrap it, and eat standing up. When you’re finished, use the wax paper in which the food was served to gather up any scraps and heave them in one of the large garbage cans provided in the corners of the room. We find this arrangement comfortable and eminently practical for eating extremely messy food; however, many customers choose to dine in their cars in the parking lot.
You get a hot dog or a double dog. The natural-casing, all-beef Vienna brand franks are slim and snappy; they are inserted into soft buns and dressed with mustard, onions, piccalilli, or sport peppers as you request. Some hot dog historians consider this the “original” Chicago style dog, before the more baroque garnishes of pickle spear, tomato slice, and celery salt.
It is a fine, fine hot dog … but wait, there’s more! Whatever toppings are included, each dog gets heaped with a large fistful of French fries … some of the best French fries in Chicago. Fresh? Forget about it! As you wait for your hot dog to be prepared, you can watch the counter folks peel and cut whole potatoes, then fry them, drain them, and pile them onto waiting dogs. They spend a good long time in the bubbling oil, emerging dark brown with some pieces crunchy through-and-through, others thick and potato-creamy inside.