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Mad Dog's Chicago Style Eatery


Update 12/1/12: Mad Dog's is closing again.

Update 7/10/09: Mad Dog's Chicago Style Eatery closed and reopened under new management; review at Fearful Symmetries.


Mad Dog's Chicago Style EateryIn a word: Looks like we have a wiener.

The specs: #0357
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, Badger Herald, Doug Moe, Paul Soglin, Hot Dog Chicago Style; official web site.

JM ate the Wando Dog.
John ate the Wisconsin brat.
Nichole ate the Bull Dog and the Mad Dog.
Rose ate the Chicago dog.
We each had a fountain drink, and split an order of fries and a Wunder Bar.
The bill was $24, or $6/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Mad Dog's Chicago Style Eatery an A-; John gave Mad Dog's Chicago Style Eatery a B+; Rose gave Mad Dog's Chicago Style Eatery a B (see our grading rubric).

Latest Mad Dog's news and reviews

Summer is the perfect time for Mad Dog's. The combination of a hot, breezy, sunny day; a fun, generous and helpful server; a very clean dining room; cheap sodas for "Happy Hour"; and good company willing to line up and knock back a few tube steaks with us made for a great time.

Five dogs

Left to right:

John's Wisconsin brat was pretty standard, with good mustard under the kraut.

The owners apparently did thorough research into the proper preparation of the Chicago Dog, an exacting technique whose fans are known to be persnickety. Rose said hers was yum, with just the right hotness.

JM's Wando Dog, with bacon, cheese sauce and onions, didn't quite come together as it should have. Normally a fan of chewy bacon, JM found the strips made it harder to bite through and get the right ratio of elements.

Nichole wanted to see if she could ID the "secret sauce" on the Mad Dog with onions and hot sauce, but she'll need to do more research. Trust it, it's a good combination, served on a tender, steamed, lightly poppyseed-ed bun.

The Bull Dog was awesome. If you have never tried coleslaw on a hot dog, as Nichole hadn't until today, do it. The smoothness of the mayo dressing and the crunch of the cabbage are a natural complement to the salty hot dog. Amazingly, the bun held up under the watery weight of both slaw and Cheli's chili, and nary a drip was lost.

Wunder BarWe all thought the fries were OK, handily served in a brown paper bag, and also wished they served Coke, but nobody's perfect. Our repast ended with a Wunder Bar - just what you'd expect from cheesecake on a stick. It was fun and filling, if not objectively good or at all good for you.

The guy behind the counter deserves special kudos for answering a million questions, to wit: the difference between Cheli's chili and the regular stuff is that the standard chili is the more watery Hormel kind, while Cheli's has beans and a little more heft. Among the top sellers are the Taco Dog, the Walking Pig (both of which include Fritos, which is surely some textural fantasy), and the Italian beef. Though the menu at Mad Dog's is small, the elements in each specialty hot dog have been thoughtfully assembled, and if our five sandwiches are any sample, the quality overall is quite good.

Mad Dog's has a couple carts around town (on MLK and Library Mall when Dane County Fair is not going on; both have slightly less selection than the store) which makes it easy to satisfy any hot dog craving you might suffer this summer. Give in at least once, so you don't rue Labor Day and your failure to give in to this season's charms.


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While I agree Mad Dog's is great - it's way over priced. $3.50 for one dog? Ridiculous. A lunch of two dogs costs $7 (for two hot dogs!). Let alone adding a drink and fries to the mix.

Even in Chicago a fully loaded dog is less than $3 - typically $2.50.

Has anyone tried both the cart and the restaurant? I'm wondering if the cart dogs are just as good, or if it's worth a hike down to the restaurant. Normally hot dogs are not my thing, but that Chicago dog looks pretty good.

Agreed about the price. Been to Chicago many times and a hot dog with fries included is usually under $3. Mad Dogs isn't bad quality, though. Does anyone know if they use natural casing (like real Chicago dogs) or synthetic casing? It's an important difference and Vienna beef produces both kinds.


I agree with Jeff although I love the fact that I can get a Chicago Dog in Madison. Guess is the price we pay for that craving.

Now if somebody in Madison can just figure out how to serve a REAL Chicago-style Italian Beef sang-which... Not something they insist is the same thing just called a french dip... So close to Chicago yet it unfortunately feels too much like NYC here.

Man, you do it if it means that much to you.

If a place serves a Chicago-style Italian beef, they don't call it a French dip. Just because Mad Dog's or any other dog joint doesn't do your beef justice, doesn't mean nobody's trying, nor that nobody knows the difference.

And I'm sorry, but you've got to be the first person in the history of the Western Territory to accuse Madison of feeling like New York.

This isn't New York. And it isn't Chicago. It's Madison. If being "Chicago" is so important, you know what you have to do.

/tired of this complaint.

Went there for a lunch treat yesterday and LOVED it! It's worth the $3 for a Chicago hot dog made well.

My husband and I are from Chicago, and were in Madison visiting family over the weekend. I have to agree with Murphy on the french dip comment. It wasn't a bad sandwich, just not a traditional Italian beef.

According to Doug Moe, the owners closed Mad Dog's because of hassles from the City related to patio seating and carts. Another rumor has it they saw Dawg House coming, asked Vienna Beef for exclusive weenie rights in Madison, and were denied, so gave up. In either case, I'd rather have Mad Dog's than their Sonic any day.

Well, that's a lump of suck in your stocking.

JOY! They have re-opened! Haven't been there with the new ownership but will hit it pretty soon. My boyfriend would pout every time we walked past the closed restaurant. Very happy they are back - they WAAAY out "dawg" the Dawg House.

Take note: early commentary on the new Mad Dog's is NOT good. So temper your enthusiasm, as it seems the transition to new ownership might not have resulted in a continued high level of quality.

I tried their cheese slaw dog. It was deec.

The new incarnation doesn't use Vienna beef hot dogs; the problem with the first incarnation was that they didn't use the 'real' natural casing Vienna beef you find in Chicago, but the stuff you can buy at Woodman's. Doesn't seem too promising.

That's a shame. The actual type of hot dog used is key to good hotdog experience.

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