I'll admit it; I am not a really big hot dog fan. I eat it, but I definitely don't crave it or seek it out. However, one of the staples of coming to Chicago is getting a dog and the most famous place of all to do it is Portillo's! So, as soon as my plane landed, I headed to Portillo's to eat lunch. I was a little confused by the setup at first, but then realized it wasn't just Portillo's but that there were other food options to choose from (it’s like a food court). The restaurant is self service. You place the order, get your ticket, pick up your food and seat yourself. Apparently Portillo's is known for their exceptional service, but frankly no one was too friendly or seemed too thrilled to be there. The minimal interaction I did have was fine, but really it didn't matter anyways since I was here for the food.
Like I said, I am not hot dog’s biggest fan and on top of that, I don't like pickles, so instead of going with the traditional Chicago style hot dog, I decided to get the Char-Grilled Maxwell Street Style Polish. I actually like sausage dogs so this choice suited me much better. They claim that it is grilled in the traditional way it was done on Maxwell Street but since I have no idea where Maxwell Street is, am not Polish and have never been to Poland, it does not mean much to me, but it sure tasted pretty delicious. I am also not a fan of mustard but on this dog it was not overpowering and I am always down for some grilled onions.
My boyfriend stayed away from the dogs and ended up with the equally famous Italian Beef. It was very good. I obviously have to compare it to a Philly Cheesesteak and frankly, although it was good, the Philly wins, in my opinion, but definitely fresh ingredients and good flavors.
With all the hype surrounded by this place, I would assume the fries would be good too. I ordered a Large Cheese Fries and was expecting a good amount of fries loaded with cheese, not something I would describe as a small with cheese on the side. I should have skipped that and gotten the Chocolate Cake everyone raves about.
Yeah it's a chain, yeah there are better tasting dogs in the city, but for a first taste of the Chicago-style, there is no place else to consider.
Portillo's Hot Dogs
100 W Ontario, Chicago IL 60654
Locations in Illinois, Indiana & California