Superdog has long been in the upper echelon of Chicago’s great hot dog restaurants. The old drive-in maintains tremendous kitsch appeal and still has genuine car hops and “Suddenserver” automated order system. A pair of ten-foot statues of a male and female hot dog (known as Flaurie and Maurie, after the founders) are dressed in leopard-skin togas and stand atop the roof, winking electrically, and meals are presented across the counter packed in a cardboard box that announces, “Your Superdawg lounges inside contentedly cushioned in Superfries, comfortably attired in mustard, relish, onion, pickle, and hot pepper.”
Goofy as all this sounds – and it IS! – the hot dogs served by Superdawg are superlative. Firm, all-beef franks topped with bright condiments (including spruce-green piccalilli relish) are loaded into velvet-soft buns and accompanied by hot French fries and a Supermalt, Supersoda, or Supershake.
Hot dogs rule in Chicago, but we must also tip our hat to Superdawg’s excellent Whooperburgers and Whoopercheesies (those are double hamburgers), as well as the Whoopskidawg, which is known by most Chicagoans as a Polish sausage.
On my way from O’Hare Airport to the hotel I asked the cabbie to make a pit stop at Superdawg, for my first Chicago-style hot dog experience. As I’m not from the Chicago area, I was prepared not to like the abundance of toppings, but Superdawg soon changed my opinion. In retrospect, it was the best of the three hot dog places I visited on my trip (Portillo’s and The Wiener’s Circle are the others).
Superdawg uses a custom made all-beef dog that is plumper and thicker than a typical Vienna Beef dog (a common favorite in Chicago). The addition of celery salt, chopped onions, mustard, neon-green relish, pickle, and a poppy seed bun only heightened the experience. On the downside, the complementary “Superfries” packed tightly into the 1950’s-styled box were just an average, crinkle-cut variety that made it very difficult to dig down to the hot dog while I was sliding around the backseat of a taxicab. Fortunately, I also ordered a side of onion chips (not rings) that was the tastiest onion dish I have ever eaten – a certain must-eat when stopping by Superdawg.