Helloooooo, Chicago!! I was so excited to finally make it to the Windy City! After a short anxious wait at the baggage claim, I grabbed a taxi to the Kinzie Hotel downtown where I got a fantastic deal on my room using the Hotel Tonight app! (Download the app and use promo code DCABRERA44)
It was only noon and my room wouldn’t be ready until 2pm. No problemo. I checked my luggage and headed out for lunch. I was in an ideal location close to so many bars and restaurants. Where to go? I decided to check out Portillo’s for a couple iconic Chicago foods.
Everybody seemed to recommend this place to try some classics. It’s even better that you can get all of them here under one roof – how convenient!
The place is laid out like a food court. There’s a counter for hot dogs and Italian beef, another one for pastas and sandwiches (Barnelli’s), and another one for desserts and cakes. So you may have to jump around a bit depending on what you want. Luckily, the two most popular items are located at one counter.
I heard this place can get very crowded, but it seemed like I came at a good time. Several tables were vacant and the lines were not too long. They try to move things along, so be ready to order and know what you want. They don’t mess around!
I had to go with a Chicago-style hot dog….and an Italian beef sandwich. Oh, and I guess I’ll get a side of onion rings. I couldn’t help it, it all sounded so good! After ordering, you head down to the other end of the counter and join the masses waiting for their number to be called. It took about 10 minutes to hear my number. Not bad at all.
I grabbed a small table and unveiled the goodies. I started off with the Chicago-style hot dog. This thing is packed with mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, tomato wedges, sport peppers, and a kosher pickle spear. It all manages to fit in a steamed poppy seed bun.
There’s a lot going on with this type of hot dog, obviously. It was tasty though and I liked the different types of textures going on. This is a meal in itself, but I had to save some room for that Italian beef.
The onion rings were nice and crispy. I know people rave about the cheese fries, but I’ll have to try those another time.
Onto the Italian beef! I ordered mine with sweet peppers. You can order them dry, with extra gravy, or entirely dipped. Apparently they already prepare their beef sandwiches with extra gravy, so it was the perfect amount for me.
The beef was surprisingly tender and the gravy gave it some beefy saltiness. It’s served on baked French bread. Make sure you grab extra napkins for this one. If you think you have enough, grab some more. I can only imagine how messy the dipped sandwich is. I wasn’t blown away by this sandwich, but thought it was good enough to finish. The bread was pretty good too.
You’ll spot lots of sports memorabilia and interesting random items along the walls and hanging from the ceilings. The animated interior matches the lively ambiance.
So it’s my first time in Chicago and Portillo’s made for a perfect meal. Tourists and locals seem to flock here all day, every day. It makes for a tasty filling meal and prices are not bad at all. It’s definitely worth a try.
Portillo’s Hot Dogs & Barnelli’s Pasta Bowl
100 W Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60654