Portillo’s Hot Dogs and Italian Beef


In my humble opinion, I don’t think we can rightly call ourselves a Chicago food blog if we have yet to make any mention of Portillo’s.  Sure, we’ve written about Lou Malnati’s pizza and have watched the making of a Chicago hot dog , but until now we’ve been missing one very crucial part of the Chicago food puzzle: Portillo’s and their famous hot dogs and Italian beef.


I’m a little ashamed that it has taken me until now to write about Portillo’s, especially considering I go there fairly regularly.  Known for their quality food and incredible service, I am just one of numerous repeat customers Portillo’s attracts from both in and outside of Chicagoland. Sure, they serve up a standard food fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches (all pictured above) – but Portillo’s always seems like a treat whenever I go there.

The fact that every time I go there I can never decide what I want is a testament to how good their food is. I’ve had  their burgers, I’ve had their hot dogs, I’ve had their charbroiled chicken sandwiches AND their Italian beef, and I like them all!  They even serve delicious milkshakes to accompany your meal.

Always true to its Chicago roots, Portillo’s originally opened in 1963 as a small hot dog stand called “The Dog House”. Run by Dick Portillo himself, the successful hot dog stand eventually expanded in 1967 to become a full restaurant named Portillo’s. Now the Chicago chain has 45 different locations, including a few in Indiana and Southern California. Each Portillo’s has a fun atmosphere, elaborately decorated with historical figurines and portraits.


But perhaps one of their most famous food items is one synonymous with true Chicago food culture: the Italian Beef Sandwich. What is Italian beef you ask? Typically, it’s a rump roast cooked until tender and seasoned with garlic, bay leaves and all sorts of seasonings. Serve it on an Italian hoagie roll and you’ve got a piece of Chicago for a meal! Here are some recipes:

Italian Beef Recipes:
Italian Beef
Easy Crock Pot Italian Beef
Best Italian Beef
Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches
Italian Beef in a Bucket

Menu: http://www.portillos.com/catering/menu

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  • John

    You’ve gotta be kidding. Portillos is totally low quality — I know, I worked at a Portillos for 2 years. They buy all their stuff from a commissary or already prepped and you wouldn’t touch it if you knew how they did it. So much for your blog.

  • http://whatscooking.us Ben

    I’ll be in Chicago next month and I’ll make sure to visit this place. The food sounds pretty good :)

  • http://www.mangotomato.blogspot.com Olga

    haha: we do have the same taste!

  • John

    Love Portillo’s! Would love the recipe for the beef, I don’t care who makes it/distributes it.

    Why the hell is there ketchup on that hot dog in the photo? BLASPHEMY!!!!

  • Mark

    Re: John’s May 13th comments- Some of their food products are prepped at THEIR OWN Commissary- and it is spotless (and smells delicious)- I worked there 8 years.

  • Chuck

    I know this was posted a year ago, but you should travel down to Greenwood, Indiana and try out our family owned business. We serve the best Italian beef and dogs I have ever had. growing up in Chicago, I know good dogs and beef, and ours blows everyones I have had out of the water!

  • Craiggrr

    Mark is right. The Potillo’s commissary is in Aurora, IL.. Known as Portillo’s kitchens. Immaculate…

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