Portillo’s Hot Dogs: Franks, Italian Beef, and Pasta, OH MY!

Portillo's: Hot Dogs and Italian Beef!

Portillo’s: Hot Dogs and Italian Beef!

Whenever I’m in Chicago and I have a hearty appetite, I have to make one very important decision: do I want a Chicago-dog or an Italian beef?  Decisions, decisions…  Now there’s a place where the twain shall meet and doth intermingle underneath one roof before making their way to my tummy!  Welcome to Portillo’s!

Founded in 1963, It was founded in 1963 by Dick Portillo.  After returning from serving in the Marines, Dick gathered money from his savings and from an investment from his brother Frank to open a hotdog stand.  They bought a 12-foot trailer that had no restroom and running water; they named it “The Dog House.”  The Dog House operated on North Avenue in Villa Park.  By 1967, The Dog House was in good standing, was upgraded to a larger trailer, and was renamed “Portillo’s.”  In 1994, the first Portillo’s in Chicago opened up at the intersection of Clark and Ontario Street which is the one I went to.  This Chicago eatery is a Windy City landmark that is known for having a myriad of Chicago staples under one roof; hot dogs, Polish sausage, Italian beef, burgers, and frozen custard are just some of the treats inside this fun establishment.  Sharing the space is Barnelli’s which specializes in pasta bowls.

The interior reminded me of the inside of a barn but with plenty of neon hung on almost every wall and corner.  There’s plenty of Chicago-sports paraphanalia including a sign from the original Chicago Stadium.  The place is set up like a food court with customers lining up behind several stands with all the menus and fixins right beneath them.  Also, customers waiting for their food can get an up-close look at all the action going on behind the counter; the assembly of a Chicago dog will make the wait  just fly by.

Portillo’s Chicago dog is indeed, satisfying.  I highly recommend getting it with extra sport peppers.  Their Italian beef is as a sumptuous experience; it is as sloppy as it as delicious.  The first Italian beef I ever had in Chicago was at Al’s on Taylor Street.  That sandwich was a messy du jour; no one can come out of dining at Al’s without wearing a little of their Italian beef on their clothes.  Some call it messy, I call it a badge of honor!  Portillo’s Italian beef isn’t as messy as Al’s but it definitely hits the spot!  However, I will say that Al’s giardeneria is better in that it is a spicier blend.

If you cannot decide between hot dogs and Italian beef, walk into Portillo’s and try’em both!

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
This entry was posted in Chicago, Food & Drink in Chicago, Illinois, North America, United States of America and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Portillo’s Hot Dogs: Franks, Italian Beef, and Pasta, OH MY!

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Once again Jared….makes me want to eat a hotdog!!!! Yum!! I forgot to mention that they are known for their chocolate cake. It is Caton’s favorite… Sometimes when I know she is going to be in town I go buy her a slice!!! It’s a close second to a bent fork cake….which by the way we need to get you to next time you are in town!! Have a great weekend!! Love reading your posts…I always learn so much!!!😘

  2. If you are ever downtown and you have a hankerin’ for a Chicago dog, head to Downtown Dogs on N. Rush Street! Awesome article, Jared!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *