The Wieners Circle

The Wieners Circle Wall Sign

Mike Phillips

“What do you want mother f*c*er?” Roberta “Poochie” Jackson asks so nicely. Jackson is one of the noticeable faces at the Wieners Circle and has been working there for eight years. That is one of the ways customers may be greeted when they order food at this memorable Chicago restaurant. Compared to traditional restaurants in Lincoln Park, or anywhere in the city for that matter, the style of service is…a little different. In an age of uptight, political correctness as far as the eye can see, I am thankful for a laid back, anything goes hot dog joint like this one.

The Wieners Circle resembles an old-fashioned hot dog stand that just doesn’t seem to exist anymore. It hasn’t tried to get fancy or change what it’s all about. “We’re not trying to portray something we’re not. The people who work here act like what they really are, and the damn customers act like what they really are. No one is trying to be fake in here,” explains Jackson.

The restaurant is not only known for its variety of char-grilled American classics and chocolate shakes, but also its interesting and entertaining exchanges of verbal abuse between employees and customers—helping to make it one of Chicago’s most fascinating and delicious establishments…hmmm scrumptious. Its Chicago-style hot dogs, dubbed “Char Dogs,” are simply fantastic. It’s comprised of two essential components…an all-beef hot dog and a poppy seed bun. And at the Wieners Circle, do not ask for ketchup on a Char Dog…you may not like the answer you get. If a customer is not a Char Dog type of person, there are always a selection of cheeseburgers to choose from. They have that great char taste…and that taste only comes from grilling the meat. Simply delicious.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog with the Works

Aside from hot dogs and cheeseburgers, restaurant goers are also likely to order the cheese fries and chocolate shakes. Shakes are thick and creamy and the cheese fries are enough for a meal…but the cheese doesn’t accompany the fries, it’s more like the fries accompany the cheese. One thing is for sure, at Wieners Circle, is that people get their money’s worth—the food to money ratio is great. “So spread the money around,” as Evelyn “Poke” Morris, a 17-year veteran employee said. “Don’t be stingy, you better put some money in that tip jar,” said Morris. I most certainly obliged .

The Wieners Circle is relatively small compared to most restaurants and can only fit about 20 people comfortably—which doesn’t really have an impact on its business because people get their food fast, eat quickly, or take it to go. There are also red picnic tables outside that are used during the spring and summer months and even during the winter when late-night bar-crawlers make The Wieners Circle their last stop. Interiors resemble a traditional hot dog joint. There are no tables, just a counter with six or seven stools on one side, it’s pretty much a standing room only. People are usually there to place a to-go order and enjoy the show.

Outside Dining Area

Another aspect of The Wiener Circle that has cemented its spot as a Chicago must-try is the open and accepted use of profanity. Be forewarned, those who are sensitive, shy, easily embarrassed or don’t want some harmless ribbing, may want to dine elsewhere. But, if you don’t mind some good old-fashioned cuss words, you should really dine at night to get the full effect. There are two distinct time segments as far as language is concerned. Lunchtime through early evening is relatively swear free but from 8 p.m. to midnight is when the real swearing is in full swing. It’s all in the name of good fun. However, there are some lines that have been crossed that should never be crossed.

“When drunk motherf*ckers come in, yelling racial slurs, that’s when sh*t stops being funny. We can all handle mild racial stereotypes, but when the really bad ones start flying, that’s when we have problems,” Poochie explained. The key is not to be racist, if you don’t cross that line, everything will be fine. If you really want the wild experience that is , go when people are going home from the bars in the wee hours of the morning. This is when the real profanity and obscenity is unleashed.

“This is therapy for me, I come in get some damn good food, they yell at me, I yell at them, I go home feeling so much better,” said Alex Bryant, a frequent visitor of restaurant. There is constant back and forth interaction between patrons and employees. And that’s what is expected of the Wieners Circle.

Wieners Circle - Home to the True Chicago-Style Hot Dog

“It’s a good time. It’s like a release…people can just relax, and enjoy the atmosphere,” said Mark, a North Chicago native. At times the conversations can get quite graphic and sexually oriented, but again this is in the nature of the restaurant and it’s all in good fun. That’s why I think the Wieners Circle represents Chicago—not that we’re all crazy, mean, obscenity driven folks—but Chicagoans by nature are pretty laid-back easy-going people. We have the tendencies and mild nature of Middle-America, but also the attitude and aura of a big city. It’s what the Wiener Circle is about: A place for people to talk, unwind, grab some grub and get out dome frustration.

The Wieners Circle keeps amazing hours. It’s open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. The food is moderately priced as well, nothing on the menu costs more than $7. For the foods mentioned above the char dogs cost $3.20, cheeseburgers cost $4.75 and the cheese fries cost $3.60. The shakes are around $20, but that’s for a special reason, order one and you’ll find out why. Go grab some grub and take in the atmosphere, it’s worth it. The prices are cheap, the food is great, and there’s always entertainment.

YouTube Video of a Pleasant Trip to the Wieners Circle

Check It Out:

The Wieners Circle

2622 North Clark Street



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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am gonna kick some pavement because this place looks awesome!

  2. If only I had a buck for every time I came here! Incredible post!

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