The Great Hot Dog Project: Kombs and Dino’s

[This is the second in a running sequence featuring one of my favorite street foods: The Chicago Style Hot Dog. A snappy sandwich which can be considered a 400 calorie snack or the cornerstone of a typical Chicago lunch from 1983: two hot dogs, a basket of fries and a Coke.

Chicago Style Dog Official IngredientsPoppy Seed Bun, Steamed Hot Dog, Yellow Mustard, Chopped White Onions, Sweet Pickle Relish with Mint, Tomato Wedges, Dill Pickle Spear, Sport Peppers and Celery Salt.]


Kombs Beef & Dogs

5452 S. La Grange Road in Countryside

Both of the places in this post are a closer representation of the typical Chicago hot dog stand. A few years ago Kombs moved a couple of storefronts north and built out a new space, so its pretty clean and organized in there. Compared toSuperdawg’s decor Kombs is pretty humdrum, but that’s what comes with the $1.95 price tag for a hot dog.  They have another location at 1801 W. Cermak in Broadview but use the transitive property at your own risk. 

The astute reader can already see problems with this hot dog. There isn’t enough onion. No poppy seed bun. No celery salt. The relish is wrong. Since they’re already presenting something that is NOT a Chicago Style Hot Dog, I’ll give a slight bonus for the cucumber. Its a guilty pleasure of mine on the hot dog. I guess this is the sad state of things when a decent hot dog can miss a few ingredients, get some wrong, and still qualify as a solid option. I hope I don’t have to revise my scoring in the future, but (believe it or not) the true Chicago Style Hot Dog is pretty rare. There are only a handful of places in the Chicagoland area that actually do it right. Since I’m shooting for a bell curve on the score distribution, I’m projecting the Kombs dog as my median score dog. Its a great option for a good price. At $1.95 you get a nice Vienna Beef wiener and a good tomato. I’ve argued in the past that the tomato is the 2nd most important ingredient on the Chicago Style Hot Dog, behind the dog itself. The tomato will make or break the dog. A mealy tomato that must be picked off just projects a lack of freshness that is imperative with the Chicago dog. The garden dog is all about freshness.


Hot Dog Rating: 5.0 

Restaurant Experience: 6.0

Hot Dog Quotient: 5.7*

* Hot Dog Quotient = Hot Dog Rating^1.5 / Price. See Chart Below.


Dino’s Pizzeria & Fast Food

1014 S. La Grange Road in Countryside

I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this hot dog. Again no poppy seed bun. No tomato. No celery salt. The relish is wrong and there’s WAY too much of it. Being mere blocks from Kombs, it doesn’t make sense to pay 5 cents more for something significantly worse. My only recommendation here is to eat it fast. Wait a while and this thing becomes inedible. You might be asking what a hot dog has to do to get a lower rating than this. The answer lies completely in the meat. Despite it’s misgivings, there was still a good dog buried in the mess. If there is a bogus dog in there, just throw it out (and give a rating of ZERO). This is why Chicago is great for hot dogs. These places understand the importance of the meat. The frustrating misconception that all hot dogs are ground up garbage meat is agonizing. Most hot dog stands in Chicago provide a high quality all-beef sausage. Prediction: Reviews from across the country will be frightening.

Look at all that relish! Too much!


Hot Dog Rating: 3.0 

Restaurant Experience: 3.0

Hot Dog Quotient: 2.6*

* Hot Dog Quotient = Hot Dog Rating^1.5 / Price. See Chart Below.

Now that I’ve got a little bit of data, its time to start comparing these places. Here is a simple chart with important information!

For the Hog Dog fan who cares only for quality: Superdawg. The cheapskate can go for Kombs at $1.95. In my previous review of Superdawg, I started with a simple Score/Price Ratio and expressed concerns that this metric will undervalue a high quality dog which has a correspondingly high price. As you can see from the third column of the chart, Superdawg and Dino’s have the same Score/Price Ratio of about 1.5. Depending on how you weigh quality versus price, these places could offer similar value. For my money, I prefer Superdawg even with the high price tag. For that reason, I’m breaking out the Hot Dog Quotient.  As I get more data, I’m going to experiment with the Hot Dog Quotient to try to give you a way to gauge value, based on my personal preferences. Not exactly scientific. In my opinion, the quality of the dog is more important than the price and I have therefore made the “Score” term exponential. Admittedly, I’m just massaging the data right now to make it say what I want. It’s a trial and error process with such a small sample.


1. Kombs

2. Superdawg

3. Dino’s

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