Battle of the Dishes

Chicago Shoot Out: Luke's vs. Lobby's

Editor's Note: We stand corrected -- by Vienna Beef, which reports that its hot dogs are kosher-style, not kosher. And "premium beef," rather than "all beef." Chow Bella regrets the error.

In order for a hot dog to be called a Chicago Style Hot Dog, the purveyor must adhere to a very specific, very detailed list of toppings and preparations. 

The first rule: No Ketchup. The second: all-beef kosher dogs, usually Vienna Beef ( first sold at the Chicago World Expo in 1863). The hot dog can either be steamed or boiled, and must be served on a poppy seed bun. 

A true Chicago Dog is smeared with yellow mustard, then "dragged through the garden". These garden toppings include bright green relish, chopped white onions, pickle spear, tomato slices, sport peppers and a generous dash of celery dash.

To find out who has the most authentic Chicago Dog around we visited Luke's of Chicago in Chandler and Lobby's Beef, Burgers, and Dogs in Tempe.

See which dog gets its day after the jump

In One Corner: Luke's of Chicago, 2855 West Ray Road, Chandler.

Before you enter, you are greeted by Luke's logo, a cartoon-style mini-gangster holding a "sub" machine gun. There is a mix of wood and leather stools at high-top tables and wooden booths in the dining area. Despite the fact the place was empty except for one other table, each booth and high-top needed a good wipe down. 

We ordered at the counter and asked about the dogs: Vienna all-beef, steamed in water, not boiled. Okay. That counts. In a few minutes, we had our dog wrapped in deli paper on a bed of crinkle cut French Fries. We checked for all of the necessary components to qualify as "dragged through the garden". It passed. 

Now the taste: On the first bite, everything slid out. The pickle and tomatoes were cut thick, thick enough that they helped push everything else out of the tasteless bun, which was fast turning into mush. My teeth ached a little from the thick burst of cold pickle. Since everything fell apart on the first bite, it was hard to get the complete Chicago bite, one with a little of everything in it. The fries, however, were warm and crispy and perfectly salted. At Luke's a Chicago Dog with fries is $4.35.

Walking into Lobby's it is hard to miss the giant photo decals of beef, burgers, and Chicago style dogs on the windows. The interior has serious clean gleam with polished metal and white tables. The color scheme of red, green, and blue and the indie rock playing not-to-loud, was current, not dated. 

We ordered at the counter and asked about the Chicago dog: Vienna beef, boiled. In a few minutes we received our neatly wrapped dog and checked for all of the necessary ingredients. Yes, it was appropriately "dragged through the garden". Before we bit in, my dining companion made an observation, "This is the first place I have been where the product looks like the picture." I turned to look at the picture and sure enough, she was right. 

But how did it taste? The first bite came off with a "pop" as my teeth bite through the casing, exactly it should AND the whole thing held together. The tomato and pickle spear was sliced thin enough to stay in place. The bun has a sweetness that held its own with all of the other flavors. This dog comes a la carte for $3.49.

The Winner: Lobby's.
Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter.