November 8, 2007

Portillo’s Hot Dogs

So you want to go out and experience Chicago. You don't want to just eat Chicago food… you want to feel Chicago. It doesn't get much more authentic than Portillo's Hot Dogs. There are several locations all throughout the suburbs, but the one in downtown Chicago (near Fogo De Chao and the Original Gino's East) is an experience to be had.

Portillo'sNostalgia fills the cavernous two-level space, gathered in an eclectic collection of '30s and '40s memorabilia. Period lamp posts light the room, complete with an old Coca-Cola ad, the 1938 Blackhawks' Stanley Cup banner, and a 1928 Thompson submachine gun. There's even a 1930 Chevrolet suspended from the ceiling! Old photos and signs from the Depression hang from the exposed-brick walls all while saloon hall or jazzy piano bar music plays in the background.

Okay, so maybe it's a tad bit touristy. But it's fun, and the food is good enough to keep even the locals coming back for more. Get yourself a hot dog the way it was meant to be made… Chicago-style! Mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun. Then there's the Maxwell Street Style Polish, char-grilled and prepared with mustard and grilled onions. And you can't get much more Chicago than a good ol' Italian Beef, served on perfectly baked French bread and your choice of sweet or hot peppers. Dry or dipped, the beef here is some of the best in the city. I'd recommend the sinful Chocolate Cake Shake to wash it all down, but hey, that's just me.

The menu offers several other options, including chicken sandwiches, broiled burgers, chili, French fries, and onion rings. If you've got a Debbie Downer in your company who's craving something healthy, Barnelli's Pasta Bowl shares the same space and offers gourmet salads and wraps.

Portillo's decor may be from the Depression, but their food will leave you in complete bliss.

Portillo's Chicago stylePortillo's chocolate cake

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) caultron, frotzed2, jimfrazier

Portillo's ($): 100 W Ontario St; 312-587-8910
Sun ' Fri: 11:00 a.m. ' 11:00 p.m.
Sat: 11:00 a.m. ' 12 midnight
Street parking difficult
Public trans: Bus # 22, 125, 156 or Red Line train (Grand)


5 comments to Portillo’s Hot Dogs

  1. Jon - The DC Traveler
    November 13th, 2007 at 7:33 am

    A great example of a classic Chicago dog!!! Just remember…no ketchup.

  2. Hungry? Chicago
    November 20th, 2007 at 1:08 am

    [...] Chicago family Gino's East Fogo de Chao Superdawg Drive-In Hot Doug's Caponie's Trattoria Portillo's Hot Dogs Andalous Ethiopian Diamond La Pe'a Mariegold Bakery & Fast [...]

  3. Fat Johnnie’s Famous Red Hots
    January 18th, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    [...] a good hot dog comes from a good-looking, colorful restaurant like Superdawg or Portillo's. And sometimes it comes from a place like Fat Johnnie's Famous Red [...]

  4. "Top Chef: Chicago" Has an Art Project
    May 5th, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    [...] Portillo's Hot Dogs [...]

  5. Nothing Says "Chicago" Like Chicago Chop House
    May 17th, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    [...] Whenever you travel to a new city, the last thing you want to do is eat out at a restaurant that you could find just about everywhere. What's the fun in touring a new city and then eating at a fast food chain? If you want a dining experience that is uniquely Chicago, then head on over to the Chicago Chop House in the River North neighborhood (less than a block from Portillo's). [...]

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