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CUISINES
Fast Food, American
Meals
Lunch
FEATURES
Takeout
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Reviewed October 17, 2020

Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots in Chicago, not to be confused with Johnnie's Beef in Elmwood Park, has made a name for itself. Located at 7242 South Western Avenue, in Chicago's Marquette Park neighborhood, in a no-frills shack that offers takeout only, it has been...in business for more than 40 years. Why deep dish or Chicago-style hot dogs or Italian beef when you can have a unique Chicago creation, a Mother-in-Law sandwich? Instead of a hot dog on a bun, you get a corn roll tamale covered with chili. If you want more toppings, add tomatoes and cucumbers. But Fat Johnnie's is famous for its hot dogs. Like the Red Hot on a poppy seed bun with mustard, relish, onion, tomato and cucumber. Or the Mighty Dog, a hot dog with cheese sauce, chili sauce, cucumber slice, tamale, tomato, onion and sport peppers. Or the Mighty Polish, the highest priced item ($4) on the menu, a tamale with Polish sausage covered with chili, cheese and everything on top. Other hot dog stands in the hot dog-happy Chicago area may have fancier trappings and bigger reputations but nobody, repeat nobody, produces a tastier product than Fat Johnnie's, which is open from 11 to 5 Monday through Saturday.More

Date of visit: October 2020
Helpful?2  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 30, 2018 via mobile

Great place off the beaten path. Fantastic Chicago style hot dogs. Place has been there for years. No atmosphere on a busy street. The true Chicago dog.

Date of visit: September 2018
Helpful?2  
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Reviewed June 3, 2018 via mobile

So I had a regular hotdog and 2 chili dogs with everything. I have had hotdogs all over the nation, so excuse me for saying I had a “regular hotdog” this was the furthest thing from regular. I enjoyed an exceptional hotdog and two awesome...Chile dogs. This dumpy looking trailer along a busy street in a very diverse area of chicago serves up the best hotdog I have ever had. I like Gene and Jude’s up north on river road and the Jimmy dog on Grand and Pulaski also up north, but they have nothing on what this guy serves up. Trust me, it’s exceptional!!More

Date of visit: June 2018
Helpful?1  
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Reviewed November 7, 2017

If you like delicious and cheap South-Side Chicago dogs, this is your spot. They also have the iconic Mother-in-Law, which is a tamale on a bun and dressed up how you like it, and a variety of other great bun-related goodies. All delicious, all affordable,...all quick and easy. Just a stand, although I think there’s one picnic table in the vicinity. I think the neighborhood drunks more or less own it, though. It’s basically an eat-in-the-car kind of place. Love it.More

Date of visit: October 2017
Helpful?1  
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Reviewed February 23, 2017

We had been going here since 1979 and really enjoyed the food but something happened after the mother died and the place has gone down hill ever since. The food taste the same but the place isn't very clean and the aprons are nasty looking....They give food and money with ungloved hands. I don't eat there anymore.More

Date of visit: March 2016
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Reviewed April 3, 2016

There are thousands of hot dog joints in the Chicago area, as plentiful as pizza and steak and barbecue. Ask 10 people to make a list of the top 10 hot dog joints in the city and suburbs and you might get 10 different answers....I've been to a lot of them but I had never been to Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots at 7242 South Western Avenue in the west Marquette Park neighborhood until I read an article in the Daily Meal that rated Johnnie's as the No. 1 hot dog joint in the United States. Well, if you've been to Johnnie's or driven past, you know it isn't the Taj Mahal of restaurants. You don't go to Johnnie's for the ambiance, you go for the hot dogs. No glitter, no reservations, no seating, no credit cards, no parking, no fries, no sport peppers. Just fast service and as-good-as-advertised hot dogs. I've driven down South Western Avenue for years (I grew up in Blue Island) and never noticed Johnnie's. When I mentioned the Daily Meal article to a friend who lives on the South Side, he said he was very familiar with the place. But he could understand why few people were aware of the tiny, ramshackle, white-paneled, old and weathered shack that is sandwiched between a Popeye's Chicken on one side and an empty lot and a used car dealership on the other. Bring cash and come hungry. Eat on the sidewalk or in your car or, if the weather is agreeable, on one of two picnic benches in the vacant lot. It's all about hot dogs...red hots, cheese dogs, chili dogs, Polish, chili Polish, double dogs, super dogs (Chicago-style hot dog with chili and cheese) and double cheese dogs. The Daily Meal singled out Johnnie's one-of-a-kind Mighty Dog as the No. 1 hot dog in the nation. It is a hot dog and tamale on a bun with chili and cheese. But Johnnie's touts its Mother-In-Law as its prize hot dog, a South Side original, a cornmeal tamale on a bun with chili. The Father-in-Law is the same plus cheese. And don't forget the Super Sundae, a bowl of tamales bathed in chili and covered with cheese, onions, pickled chiles and tomatoes. Wash it all down with a soft drink from the soda fountain...cola, fruit punch, lemonade, grape, strawberry, orange, root beer or 7-Up. The sign on the building says "Fit for a King." Well, that might be a slight exaggeration. But if you lo love hot dogs, you can't beat Fat Johnnie's.More

Date of visit: April 2016
Helpful?1  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 1, 2015

Looks like a dive you wouldn't take a second look at. Hours are short, closing at 5pm. That being said, the hot dogs are out of this world. Nothing else even comes close!!!! Quick service. You gotta taste for yourself. What's the worse case scenario,...you disagree and don't like them? For the price of a hotdog you can't go wrong. I have had dogs from dozens of places and Fat Johnnys the best.More

Date of visit: August 2015
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Reviewed July 9, 2015 via mobile

Broken down trailer, no french fries, no sport pepper in the hot dog. No fries. Unsavory people working there as well. Cant believe they rate this place ao good. Never again

Date of visit: July 2015
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Reviewed October 31, 2014

Havent been down ths way in a long time, but since Im in the area I had to stop for my usual ( tamale boat and a polish ) Great as usual have eaten at a few yard parties that they catered but nothing beats...the original spot on Western A must while in Chicagos Southwest sideMore

Date of visit: October 2014
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Reviewed August 25, 2014

My daughter had heard about this location on one of the foodie television shows and it was one of the first things she wanted to do after her graduation ceremony from Naval Boot Camp. Talk about a hole in the wall place - don't blink...as you are driving by, or you could miss it. Never thought I would write a review about a hot dog. However, if you are in Chicago, you have to go to Fat Johnnies and get a dog from this stand. Simply put - Best Hot Dog Ever.More

Date of visit: August 2014
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Reviewed August 1, 2014

Chicago has thousands of hot dog joints. More if you count all the ones in the burbs. Everybody thinks the joint they go to is the best because that's the one they've been eating at since they were old enough to eat solid food. There...are dozens of places that any real Chicagoan will recognize by name because of their legendary status in their particular area. But let's be honest. Except for some minor differences, they're all about the same. Vienna beef dog on a steamed poppy seed bun. Mustard, onions, blah blah blah, celery salt. Sport peppers optional. Some places (Byron's) have unusual options like lettuce and bell pepper while others (Jimmy's) offer a more stripped-down dog with only mustard, onions, relish and sport peppers. Some have fresh cut fries. Some use frozen. But you can drive from one end of the city and back again, stopping at every little joint you see with the Vienna sign out front and not taste any real differences in the product. Ambience. Presentation. Nostalgia. Those are the things that make the difference. That said, Fat Johnnie's is fine if that's what you grew up with. But it's nothing special.More

Date of visit: October 2013
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Reviewed May 27, 2014

We recently read about Fat Johnnies as America's #1 Hot Dog so decided to check it out. It was in a very bad area of town which is probably why they close at 5pm. The outside looks less than desireable and the employees looked unclean....However, the hot dogs were good. I still would vote for Gene & Jude's as #1 and would probably not visit again due to location.More

Date of visit: May 2014
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Reviewed November 18, 2013

We went to Fat Jonnie's while in Chicago after going to Hot Doug's, Lafayette Dog's and American dogs, this place and Hot Dougs are by far the two bet dogs we have tasted in a USA, but before you order your food just take a...moment and have a look at the shop it just puts a smile on your face looking at it and the man selling the dogs is a great bloke friendly very talkative even gave us other food to sample for free if you in Chicago you must go to this placeMore

Date of visit: November 2013
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Reviewed August 5, 2013

We have driven past this place for four years and we finally stopped. It's a shack - literally. They have one of the best hot dogs I have had in a very long time. It's a true Chicago hot dog - all the fixin's and...even does the cucumber and celery salt on a poppy seed bun - excellent! They don't have fries, Jay's potato chips it is - another Chicago staple. If you are driving down Western and pass 67th pull over to Fat Johnnies and grab a dog! The prices are cheap and the food is great and open all year round! Oh yea, they only take cash.More

Date of visit: August 2013
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Reviewed July 22, 2013

This place without a doubt, serves the BEST hot dog in all of Chicago, hell in all of North America. The buns are soft n warm every time. The dog is juicy n delicious. The trimmings are the perfect compliment. Especially the super fresh, super...delicious n crunchy cucumbers n tomatoes on top, with the mouth watering seasoning, sprinkled all over. Don't forget to ask for hot peppers. They're not really that hot. But they definitely put the X in sex, when it comes to Fat Johnnies Red Hots. The Chili dogs are ridiculously delicious. They're so good, they'll make you wanna smack someone. Seriously. I hope this place stays open FOREVER. Those Red Hots are absolutely, positively YEE-HAW-DEEELISHIOUS !!!!!!!!More

Date of visit: July 2013
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Frequently Asked Questions about Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots

Yes, Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots offers takeout services.

Fat Johnnie's Famous Red Hots is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travelers:
  • Food: 4.5
  • Service: 4.5
  • Value: 4.5
  • Atmosphere: 3.5