I am a HUGE hot dog fan and Chicago style hot dogs are my favorite. Portillo's is the best place for an authentic Chicago-style hot dog. They top their hot dogs with mustard, pickles, sport peppers, tomatoes, and chopped onions. Then they serve them in a steamed poppy seed bun. How delicious is that? Their juicy Italian beef and spicy Italian sausage sandwiches are wicked tasty also!
I normally stay away from chain restaurants. I am a one-of-a-kind, local, "Mom & Pop" restaurant kinda girl. There are some rather very good restaurant chains that I do enjoy, but I never thought I would write about them. Never say never… There are always exceptions to the rules.
The Best Place for a Chicago Style Hot Dog
My kids and I often take a summer road trip to see my family in Oshkosh, Wisconsin all the way from Fayetteville, North Carolina. This is a very long 18 to 22 hour drive depending on traffic and detours. We have one tradition that we have been carrying out for years. No matter what time of day it is, or if we have already ate; we stop in Chicago have a Chicago-Style Hot Dog. It could be 7:00am or close to midnight depending on when we left, but we ALWAYS grab a tasty, spicy, juicy, fatty, yummy Chicago dog.
This past trip we made it our mission to find the best place for a Chicago style hot dog. We read the Portillo's reviews and decided to give it a try. It was soooo good! I could have ate 10 and not regretted it. Portillo's hot dogs has become our favorite Chicago Dog and it is well worth the detour drive to get there.
Portillo's began in Villa Park, Illinois, as a hot dog stand in a little trailer with no running water and a garden hose from a nearby building . It has now grown into over 50 restaurants across country and added a catering and shipping business. Food is prepared fresh and in-house, with a focus on quality and consistency. Their menu has largely grown from the original hotdog menu to an extensive menu of items such as burgers, pasta, salads, sandwiches, milk shakes; and if you have room Chocolate Cake, Eclair Cake, and Strawberry Shortcake!!
Portillos Chicago Style Hot Dog
We sought Portillo's out for their prized Chicago-Style hot dog that is just simply called "Hot Dog" on their menu. We order it just as it comes: mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun. OH BABY this Chicago dog GOOD!! I mean killer GOOD! Like dancing in the streets good!
The hotdog was good quality meat. The bun was soft and tasty with a little crunchy texture from the poppy seeds. The toppings tied everything together like magic. If you have never had a Chicago-Style Hot Dog, I highly recommend it. When I make them at home, I add a little celery salt. However, Portillo's Hot Dog is perfect just the way it is. My kids loved them. They go ahead and order two dogs when we visit.
Portillo's Italian Beef
My kids stuck with tradition and ordered the hot dog, and added fries and a milkshake. If you are a milkshake fan, you don't want to skip out on that. However, I was intrigued by the Italian Beef Sandwich on their menu and decided to add that to my order. (Calories don't count when you are traveling!)
Portillo's Italian Beef Sandwich is served on French Bread with both the hot and sweet peppers. OH MY GOSH! This sandwich now ranks as one of my favorite sandwiches ever. I am talking taste buds doing fire works in your mouth good. It was messy, juicy, and dripping everywhere. And it was freakin AWESOME! I shared it with the kids to taste. We just kept passing it around saying,"Oh my gosh!" I am sure to the "every day locals" that were watching us, we were quite amusing. They must have thought we have never ate before.
The Italian Sandwich was so delicious, I went back in line to order to-go sandwiches for later. That was when I learned about their "Shipping Business." You can order their Italian Beef, hot dogs, ribs, and tamales. They come with all the special little trims to make it the perfect meal. My to-go Italian Beef was fabulous. But I will say, it isn't quite the same as eating it there. However, it WAS good enough that I will be ordering their meals to be flown here as a special surprise to my kids. They will love it, and of course, so will I!
Here is a quick video from my latest trip.
On the next go-round, I would like to try their Tamales and the Char-Grilled Maxwell Street Style Polish Dog. If it is as good as the other items, I will be in big trouble. As the saying goes,"If you build it they will come." Portillo's if you want to build it in the South, we will come! We love you Portillo's!!!