Wisconsin (Outside of Madison) Ratings and Reviews

Believe it or not, there are many places throughout Wisconsin that serve Chicago Dogs. With our help, traveling outside the Madison area no longer means that you will not be able to satisfy you Dog cravings. We are constantly searching far and wide for that perfect Chicago Style Dog and sincerely hope that our reviews are both enjoyable and insightful. We hope you have the opportunity to visit some of our top ranked places and experience some of the best dogs around.

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Willy's Weenie Wagon
Hwy 51 and Tomlinson Rd (in the Cornerstone Auto lot),Poynette, WI 53955 - 608-345-1777
DogCaching: W 89° 23.702' / N 43° 23.375'
Date: 08-13-10

When we heard about a guy who runs a hot dog stand in Poynette, we had to check it out. Willy's Weenie Wagon is a converted 1969 Airstream camper trailer, with a custom exterior, that is parked in the Cornerstone Auto parking lot in Poynette. Willy is a one man crew and grew up in Cicero, Illinois...so he knows a few things about a good Chicago Dog. Willy has been running the stand since 2007 and takes his mobile hot dog joint on the road for various events. We have the utmost respect for a guy, who at 55 has realized his dream to "one day have his own hot dog stand". He's definitely living our dream. We had a nice conversation with Willy and listened intently while he told us the story of how it all began.

We ordered our dogs and watched them get assembled in record time. All the required ingredients were there. The skinless Vienna brand dog was good and the neon relish was top notch. The pickle spear and sport peppers were both excellent. The steamed bakery fresh bun was pretty good and contained a lot of poppy seeds. We loved his expert balancing of the peppers, pickle, onions and celery salt...easier said than done in our experience. Our only complaint was that the tomato was a little beat up, although this was most likely due to the time of year.

If you take a closer look at the outside of the Airstream, you will see that it looks just like a Chicago Dog. The exterior is an actual photo of a dog that was enlarged and then "wrapped" around the trailer. Ketchup and mustard colored propane tanks at the front of the trailer add to the character.

Overall, the dog was excellent and the prices are reasonable. There is an umbrella table and chairs to sit at while you enjoy your dog. Willy can't run a deep fryer out of his trailer, so you'll have to order chips if you need your daily starch intake. Italian Beef, Polish sausages, Tamales and Brats are also on the menu. If you are a regular, don't forget to get your loyalty punch card.

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DOGS: 8.7

Overall: 5  

Recommended: Definitely

Rail Dog
223 Wisconsin Ave, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965 - 608-254-7505
DogCaching: W 89° 46.448' / N 43° 37.757'
Rail Dog's Website
Date: 08-13-10

When you're in the Dells, the last thing you might think of is a good Chicago Style hot dog. We've always been curious as to why there aren't more hot dog joints in the Dells, since it's a popular destination for our Cubs loving neighbors. A co-worker gave us a flyer on a hot dog joint named "Rail Dog" that serves authentic Vienna products out of a caboose.

Rail Dog is located in the downtown area of the Dells, a block or two off the main drag at Oak and Wisconsin Ave. You can't miss it. The 1956 vintage Milwaukee Road Caboose has been retrofitted as an authentic hot dog stand. We sauntered up to the Order window and were immediately greeted by the owner Antoni Wolan, who also runs the adjacent Parkway Motel. When we asked about the Polish Taco, we were quickly ushered inside. No surprise that there isn't a lot of room inside the caboose, but there is a counter and some stools to sit on. There is enough decor on the walls to get a little history lesson. We ordered a Chicago Dog, but were told we should save room to try the Polish and Dells "tacos".

Rail Dog uses a natural cased Vienna dog served up "south side" style. You're only gonna find mustard, relish and onions on this bad boy, and sport peppers and celery salt are available upon request. The missing tomato, pickle, and poppy seeds didn't detract from the awesomeness of this dog. The natural cased Vienna was fantastic, perfectly cooked and the condiments were expertly applied, including a decent amount of neon green relish, which we always appreciate. Antoni told us that in the past they served poppy seed buns, but their customers like plain buns better. All of their food is served with fries, which are very good.

After we downed the Chicago Dog and fries, we tried the Polish Taco...a Rail Dog original. The Polish taco consists of a polish sausage, with onions, sports, and salsa, wrapped in a lightly deep fried tortilla. We can't remember, but there might have also been some mustard on it. The Polish taco was great. We barely sunk our teeth into it when the Dells "taco" arrived. This tortilla wrapped delight contained Italian beef, giardiniera, sport peppers and salsa. The Dells taco was outstanding! We think this masterpiece belongs in a hall of fame somewhere.

Antoni is a super nice guy who will talk your ear off. His sense of humor and witty one-liners, coupled with his thick Polish accent make him quite the character.

Rail Dog has an incredibly fun atmosphere and is a MUST stop when you find yourself in or around the Wisconsin Dells. We guarantee you will leave with a full stomach and a smile on your face. Just remember to bring cash, since plastic is not accepted. Rail Dog is open seasonally.

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DOGS: 6.4

Overall: 5  

Recommended: Definitely

1215 W Layton Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53221 - 414-281-5580
DogCaching: W 87° 55.696' / N 42° 57.552'
Date: 03-08-10

We have often heard people describe a Martino's Chicago Style dog as "Nirvana in a bun". This place has been on our "must visit" list for a couple of years and we finally had the chance.

Martino's is a family owned business that has been in the Milwaukee area since 1977. The place is on Layton Ave and is easy to spot with its distinct yellow awnings. For some reason, I had in my mind that Martino's was going to be more like an Italian deli than a dog joint. Well, I was wrong. When I walked in, to my surprise it appeared to be similar to a typical dog place in Chicago. For a minute, I almost forgot I was in Milwaukee. It was a welcome surprise.

I ordered a Chicago Style dog and then waited patiently while seated on a Vienna branded stool at the shelf in the back of the restaurant. Martino's also has a fair number of booths as well as some outdoor seating. When my dog arrived, it certainly looked the part. The Vienna dog was on a steamed poppy seed bun and I was happy to see neon green relish as well as the often overlooked celery salt. The pickle was excellent, the quantity of chopped onions was just right and the mustard was applied in the correct proportion. Two thinly sliced tomatoes and two sport peppers rounded out the dog. The sport peppers were a nice shade of green, but their intensity was "ultra-hot".

Overall, my Martino's Chicago Style dog was excellent and we definitely recommend it. No need to run to Chicago for a great Chicago dog.

Martino's has an extensive menu which covers everything from starters to desserts. Besides their classic Chicago Style dog, their menu boasts about nine other dog choices, including some regional variations such as a southern and slaw dog. Every dog comes with fries and most of their dogs are available as Regular, Jumbo, Foot long and Fire (i.e. char dog). Martino's strives to offer a great product, friendly quick service at a fair price. I think that they met their goal.

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DOGS: 8.9

Overall: 5  

Recommended: Definitely

675 Grand Ave, Hartford, Wisconsin - 262-673-2663
Open 11-8 Tues-Sun, Closed Monday
Date: 04-15-06

Hartford knows Chicago Dogs! Mickey's Frozen Custard, known primarily for their assortment of fresh custard and sundaes, has hit one out of the park, "Chicago Style".

Mickey's offers a "standard" size Chicago dog for $2.08 as well as a jumbo version for $2.73. Fries and something to drink obviously aren't included in that bargain price and will run you a couple of extra bucks.

The dog arrived wrapped in wax paper, which was definitely a good sign. The mustard was applied to the bun, the pickle was a thin slice (not a spear) and the tomatoes were sliced. All minor nits and all were easily forgiven the moment I took my first bite. The pickle was fantastic. All ingredients were in perfect harmony, since you could taste a smattering of each in every chomp. The dog was juicy, the peppers had ample kick (but not overpowering) and the bun was perfect. This dog passed the ultimate "Mitch and Kevin" test, especially since I couldn't stop thinking about having another while I was still working on my first.

If you are ever passing through Hartford, you owe it to yourself to stop by Mickey's. They have quite an extensive menu, including hamburgers, onion rings, cheese and chili fries and tons more.

DOGS: 8.9

Overall: 5   

Recommended: Definitely

Sammy's Taste of Chicago
10534 West Greenfield Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53214 - 414-774-0466
Open Weekdays 10am-8pm, Weekends 11am-6:30pm
Date: 07-16-06
Sammy's Website

Update September 2010: Sammy's is now open in Milwaukee. Both the Slinger and Kettle Moraine locations are now closed.

Review: Sammy's claims to have the best Chicago Dog in Milwaukee. We felt obliged to find out how the Sammy's dog stacked up against our current contenders so we headed off to their Slinger location in search of the perfect dog.

Sammy's interior is pretty typical for a fast food joint. You won't find any Chicago memorabilia, since afterall, it's a Milwaukee original. There's plenty of booth and single seating. A drive-thru is also available if you're really pressed for time. The menu is pretty extensive and includes many Chicago classics such as the Maxwell Polish and the Italian Beef. Traditional fast food fare, such as burgers and fries are also available, but we can't imagine why you'd ever need to look past a glorious Chicago Dog.

We had high expectations, so we ordered up a traditional Chicago Dog with the works. I was a bit paranoid when I ordered, so I confirmed ketchup was not included. I was relieved when the cashier did a variation of the "not in my house" response we usually get in Chicago. Actually, the only ketchup I saw was by the condiment bar, far removed from the food prep area, reducing the chance of any "ketchup mishaps". I unwrapped my dog and was pleased to see that Sammy's wasn't shy about applying the toppings. The dog had a nice even coat of neon green relish, and the finely chopped onions were in perfect proportion. The sliced tomato halves were perfectly wedged in the bun and the two sport peppers were tucked in so there would be no chance of them squirting away as the dog was devoured. The bun length pickle slice was the perfect size and had a great taste and crunch. The peppers were nice sized and had a kick that balanced well with the other ingredients.

Sammy's uses their own "Windy City Dog", which is a skinless all beef Klements dog. The dog was juicy, but not quite as tasty as some of the best natural cased dogs we've had. Mustard was carefully applied to the dog and in perfect proportion to everything else. The poppy seed bun had ample seeds, was nice and airy, and kept the structural integrity of the dog in check. Lastly, there was a light dusting of celery salt, but patrons are free to add as much as they want since each table has a shaker. Maybe it was the heat, but I thought this was genius. I'm surprised we haven't seen this at other establishments.

Overall, Sammy's has a nice Chicago dog, and should easily satisfy your craving if you're traveling through the greater Milwaukee area. Sammy's has 4 locations. The standard Chicago Dog goes for $1.89, while a jumbo version will run you $2.65. As an added bonus they also offer Sprecher Root Beer on tap.

DOGS: 8.2

Overall: 4.5   

Recommended: Definitely

Jimmy's To-Go
245 North Webb Ave, Reedsburg, WI 53959 - 608-768-8646
DogCaching: W 90° 0.655' / N 43° 32.061'
Date: 08-13-10

We find it interesting that "Jimmy's" seems to be one of the most common names for a hot dog joint. There is a place named Jimmy's in just about every state from California to Pennsylvania. The fact that there's a Jimmy's in Wisconsin peaked our interest, so we hopped in the car and headed to "Jimmy's To-Go" in Reedsburg. They proclaim to have, "The Best Hotdogs In Town", so we had to see how they measured up.

Jimmy's is owned by the husband and wife team, James and Candace Porter. These long time Reedsburg residents always dreamed of opening a hot dog stand and finally turned their dream into reality when they opened Jimmy's in June of 2009. It was very apparent to us that they have a regular following and have strong community ties.

We ordered our dog and fries for $3 and waited patiently. It took a little while to get the dog, but that is a good indication that your hot dog is fresh and hasn't spent the last 25 minutes spinning on a hot dog roller. Jimmy's consists of a white trailer that was converted into a hot dog stand. There is obviously no place to eat inside, but there are some picnic tables for your dining pleasure.

Once our Chicago Dog arrived, we completed the photo shoot and got down to business. The Vienna brand skinless dog seemed a little small, or maybe the bun was larger than usual. The poppy seed bun was excellent...strong enough to hold up to the ingredients and chewy and light when combined with everything else. This dog had the right amount of mustard, plenty of excellent neon green relish, chopped onions, a thick ripe tomato slice and all the other required ingredients. The two sport peppers were decent but a little on the hot side of the spectrum. The pickle was a thin slice, instead of a spear and a single tomato slice and a dash of celery salt completed the dog. We would have liked a more substantial pickle, but this didn't detract from our overall enjoyment of the dog.

Jimmy's has a decent dog at a fair price. If you want sport peppers, you'll need to request them, but you won't get charged extra for them. Besides Chicago Style Dogs, Jimmy's also serves Italian Beef, burgers, brats and more. Jimmy's is open Tuesday-Saturday (seasonal), closed Sunday and Monday.

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DOGS: 8.3

Overall: 4.5  

Recommended: Yes

Wilson's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor
9990 Water St (Hwy 42), Ephraim, WI 54211 - 920-854-2041
DogCaching: W 87° 10.240' / N 45° 9.341'
Wilson's Website
Date: 07-15-10

Wilson's is located in the picturesque town of Ephraim in Door County Wisconsin. Wilson's has been around since 1906 and serves both food and ice cream. Some of their ice cream creations are monstrous in size and would easily feed a family of five.

After a full day on Rock Island, we stopped at Wilson's for a quick bite to eat. I was excited when I spotted a Chicago Dog on their menu, but a little hesitant about ordering one since I was skeptical about getting a decent dog in Door County. I asked the Waitress if they put neon-green relish on their Chicago Dog and she responded "yes". Well, since they had the right relish, I figured that they just might know what they are doing. I ordered a Chicago Dog, which comes with fries, and waited with cautious optimism.

When our food arrived, I was very excited to see what appeared to be a nicely assembled Chicago Dog. The dog certainly looked the part, and I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into it. The first things I noticed were the poppy seed bun and the gleaming neon green relish, which was generously applied. There was a nice amount of chopped onions, two great looking sport peppers, a pickle spear, and two thinly sliced ripe tomatoes. I continued taking inventory of all the ingredients and noticed that there was no celery salt and no yellow mustard. When they brought our food, they also brought squeeze bottles of mustard and ketchup. I promptly shuffled around the toppings to expose the dog, applied the missing mustard, and then carefully moved the ingredients back into place. Overall, my Chicago Dog tasted pretty good, but the sport peppers didn't taste right and I pitched them. They weren't too hot, but they had a flavor that can best be described as "sharp". The pickle spear had a nice crunch, but the flavor was a little sour for my tastes. The dog itself lacked some flavor and was not very juicy. The menu touted an all-beef hot dog, but there was no mention of brand...which usually indicates that it's not Vienna or Red Hot Chicago.

Despite some obvious flaws, my Chicago Dog from Wilson's was overall still pretty good and the fries were tasty. This might not be the best place in Door County to get a Chicago Style hot dog, but it will definitely satisfy a dog craving. With a little makeover, Wilson's Chicago Dog could be a contender. I checked out their website and I am a little concerned that they depict their Chicago Dog with both ketchup and mustard drizzled on top.

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DOGS: 6.3

Overall: 4  

Recommended: Yes

CLOSED - Windy City
319 Madison St, Beaver Dam, WI 53916 - 920-887-2550
Open Mon-Sat 10:30 am-8:00 pm, closed Sunday
Date: 06-02-07 & 07-22-06

Update July 2010: Unfortunately, Windy City has closed it's doors. A definite loss.

We have to admit that we were a little skeptical about finding the perfect dog in Beaver Dam, WI. The Conlon family grew up enjoying the food of Chicago's finest hot dog stands and wanted to one day open their own restaurant. That day came this past Memorial Day weekend, when Windy City opened its doors and the Conlon's shared their passion for Chicago's finest with Beaver Dam.

As we pulled into the parking lot we knew this was going to be a special place. The building is small and unassuming, but Vienna signage is in plain sight on both the exterior and interior of the building. Seating is limited on the inside, but you can always enjoy your dog at one of the outside tables. Windy City is family owned and operated and we were immediately greeted by the Staff (Larry, Jamie, and Michael). We noticed a hot dog mascot near the counter. Mitch and I couldn't get past the fact that the "hot dog man" was defacing himself with ketchup, so we had to bring this to the staff's attention. We were assured that they were just as concerned and were busily brain-storming on how to deal with that issue. We later found out that the un-named little guy used to be on the roof, but after a failed kidnapping attempt, they decided to keep him indoors.

Windy City oozes the atmosphere found in a typical Chicago hot dog stand. We love the fact that the staff was so friendly and value the connection with their customers. We ordered two Chicago Dog meals along with a couple of kids dog meals for the boys (we decided to bring some backup). Clearly Windy City Chicago Dogs are catching on. We were excited to hear some locals order a "Chicago Dog with the works".

When our Chicago dogs arrived, they looked fantastic. The first thing that caught our eye was the gleaming red ripe tomato wedges and the huge pickle spear. In our opinion, presentation is often just as important as taste. These dogs were created by someone who definitely knows what a Chicago Dog should be.

Windy city uses skinless Vienna dogs and they were done to perfection. The poppy seed buns were from a local bakery and were nice and airy and held up extremely well (the kids meals are served on a plain bun). The large pickle spear was excellent. It was big enough to span the entire length of the dog and had the perfect taste and crunch. Sam, our "pickle expert" remarked that it was one of the best pickles he ever had. The neon green relish was great and the onions were finely chopped. The two tomato wedges were just the right size and two sport peppers (with a little kick) rounded out the dog nicely. Our dogs were a little light on the celery salt.

The kids really liked their hot dogs and almost polished theirs off before Mitch and I could even get started. Sam thought his Chicago Dog was excellent and Ben said that his was "Yummy".

The Windy City Chicago dog passed the ultimate Mitch and Kevin test since we couldn't stop thinking about having another while we were only a couple of bites into our first. We were also stopped cold by the fries. These are some of the best fries we ever had. They have a light batter and the seasoning puts them over the top. Our resident "fry experts" (i.e. the kids) agreed and added that the fries were the best they ever had.

Overall, Windy City has one of the best dogs we've reviewed to date. They are currently only the second establishment that passed our authenticity requirement for all ingredients. The Chicago Dog meal runs $3.95 and includes a dog, fries, and a drink, while a Chi dog and fries goes for $3.25. A "southside" version is also available. Windy City serves all the Chicago classics but considers the Italian Beef to be their signature sandwich. We'd love to see a char dog added to the menu and would like them to open a store in Madison (hint, hint). Anyway, we highly recommend Windy City and can't wait to try one of their Italian Beefs or Gyros on our next trip.

DOGS: 9.3

Overall: 5   

Recommended: Definitely

CLOSED - Arevalo's Hot Dogs
214 S Main St, Westfield, WI 53964 - 608-296-1316
DogCaching: W 89° 29.602' / N 43° 53.135'
Date: 06-21-08

Arevalo's Hot Dogs is a definite favorite of many of our site visitors. We have received a bunch of e-mails about this place and every one of them contains adjectives such as "incredible" and "outstanding" to describe their Chicago Dogs. It has been on our review "hit" list for a while, but we finally got the chance to review their Chicago Dog.

Arevalo's is a family owned business located in Westfield, Wisconsin, which is about an hour north of Madison. The place is located on Main Street about 1/2 mile from I-39. The owners, Bob and Pam are originally from Chicago and operated a push cart down there before moving to Westfield. Arevalo's opened in January 2007.

The inside is small, but has the ambiance of a typical Chicago dog joint. There is a big Vienna beef sign at the counter and the usual Vienna posters adorn the walls. There are 6 booths and a table inside and a table outside for your dining enjoyment. Pam was decked out in a Chicago Bears T-shirt and wore a White Sox hat. You definitely didn't feel like you were in Wisconsin. They atmosphere is friendly and the owners make you feel welcome.

Arevalo's certainly knows how to create a Chicago Dog masterpiece. The dog looked great and had all the required ingredients...from poppy seed bun to celery salt. Not only did the Chicago Dog look the part, it tasted as great as it looked. The bun was excellent and held up well. A perfect companion to the Vienna hot dog and all the ingredients. The sport peppers were spectacular. They were nicely sized, juicy and had the perfect among of heat. A generous amount of neon green relish was applied and the pickle spear had nice flavor. Yellow mustard, diced onions, tomato slices and celery salt rounded out the dog.

"Outstanding" certainly sums up our experience at Arevalo's. We highly recommend that you try their Chicago Dog. They also offer other Chicago fare such as Italian Beef sandwiches and offer daily specials. Arevalo's has excellent food at reasonable prices. Next time you are on I-39 traveling past Westfield, treat car to some gas and yourself to a Chicago Dog at Arevalo's. (Directions: I-39 to Westfield exit 113. Head west to Main Street. Left on Main Street)

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DOGS: 9.3

Overall: 5   

Recommended: Definitely

CLOSED - Fat Mike's
601 W Commercial Ave, Mazomanie, WI 53560 - 608-795-2351
Date: 02-22-06

Update: Unfortunately, Fat Mike's appears to have gone out of business (August 2006). They have a big "Closed" sign in front of the place.

From the moment we walked in the door, we had high expectations. The place had the look and feel of a Hot Dog joint. The walls contained Chicago related items such as a CTA poster and a picture of the Chicago Theater. They serve Vienna Beef Dogs and offer several Hot Dog choices including a Naked Dog and a Chili Dog. Of course, we ordered the "Classic Chicago Style Dog".

Our Dogs arrived on a bun with all the toppings that make it a Chicago Dog. The pickle spear had good flavor, the tomatoes were sliced and the onions chopped. Each of our Dogs contained 3 sport peppers. The peppers were on the hot side, but their flavor was not overpowering. It appeared that the mustard was placed on the bun instead of the Dog, but that did not affect the taste. We were very excited to see the traditional bright green relish. The relish tasted great and the amount was just right! They certainly do not skimp on the ingredients. As a bonus, our Dogs were topped with thinly sliced cucumber.

The bun was excellent even though it did not have poppy seeds. The person working there told us that they no longer serve poppy seed buns because the factory across the street does drug testing of their employees.

Overall, their Chicago Dog was excellent and ranks among the top Chicago Style Dogs we have reviewed. Fat Mike's also serves Italian Beef sandwiches and Chicago Style Pizza. Their Chicago Dog costs $2.50. They do not serve fries, but they have a variety of chips. Mazomanie is 17 miles west of Madison. It is definitely worth the drive.

DOGS: 7.9

Overall: 4.5   

Recommended: Definitely

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