Apartments in Lincoln Park are near so many restaurants, concert venues and local attractions that it can seem slightly overwhelming at times in this bustling Chicago neighborhood. One local business that seamlessly blends all three aspects -- part performance space, part restaurant and 100% local institution -- is the Wieners Circle.
From its humble exterior on North Clark Street, this hot dog stand appears to be just another joint slinging Vienna Beef hot dogs and greasy burgers. And it is, but only to a degree. What sets Wieners Circle apart and earns it a spot in Chicago lore is its no-holds-barred attitude and in-your-face service. What began years ago as playful banter between customers and the staff at the Wieners Circle has evolved over time. If customers expect a familiar greeting with an occasional playful taunt at their local greasy spoons, the Wieners Circle is that experience on steroids.
A notable feature that Lincoln Park apartment renters may have noticed in the last two years is the Wieners Circle’s large sign, done up in a fitting shade of mustard yellow. Messages that express solidarity with immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community and anyone else who has found themselves marginalized or targeted by the Trump administration have been displayed on the placard. But in true Wieners Circle style, the messages contain a not-so-subtle jab at the incumbent powers, and the messages are, shall we say, a bit more PG-13 than most businesses'.
Inside the small Lincoln Park restaurant, the language is more R-rated. Decidedly so. When customers order at the counter of this late-night eatery, they can expect a chorus of rough language and coarse instructions to “Hurry the f*** up and order!” That might cause some first-time visitors to lose their nerve, but more often than not it causes eruptions of laughter. The insults fly and the staff behind the counter is quick to pick up on any fodder to make fun of patrons: age, height, clothing choice, hairstyle...any and all outward signs are fair game to the virtuosic insult artists at the Wieners Circle. And customers love them for it.
Why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of verbal abuse? And why especially bear so much harsh language over a simple Chicago-style dog? Because the staff won’t even fire up the char grill at the Wieners Circle unless customers deliver a profanity-laden order. The people on the other side of the counter are expected to give as good as they get in the verbal jousting.
This Lincoln Park hot dog stand has appeared on numerous travel programs and even TV host Conan O’Brien produced a remote segment for his visit to the legendary Wieners Circle a few years back. O’Brien’s crew brought along famous insult comic dog Triumph to try and combat the notoriously salty Wieners Circle staff in a tit-for-tat battle of barbed commentary that must be seen to be believed.
For a neighborhood icon that’s so over-the-top, Domu found it fitting to pay tribute to this local favorite by going over the top with rising BMX star Bryce Tryon. When Bryce visited Chicago in the summer of 2018, he wanted to know everything he could about the people, the food and the local scene. For one destination that ties it all together, Lincoln Park’s legendary hot dog stand seemed a fitting example. Some friends of Domu put together a ramp outside the restaurant and then the Wieners Circle let Bryce do his thing.
The video below showcases some of Bryce’s highest-flying moves from the night, and while the Wieners Circle doesn’t feature such outrageous BMX stunts every night, they’re always reliable for a raucous bit of laughter and fun for any Lincoln Park night owls.