Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Italian Beef from Portillo's

-Got Beef? Italian Beef
as seen on 'What's Your Beef?'

The next stop on the beef bus is to a place known to many. I'm not one to hate on Portillo's despite their fast food status. The truth of the matter is that Portillo's is a fine example of the American dream and a result of what can happen if one works hard. Odds are if you've visited Chicago then you heard of or stopped into Portillo's downtown for one of their famous hot dogs and or many other menu items including beef. What originally started off as a shack on North ave in Villa Park, IL is now a monster in the food game with almost 50 locations in Chicagoland. Its a spot I loved as a kid and whenever I was running around downtown with friends we would eat at the location on Clark street to eat. My order back then was always a dog with everything and a beef with hot. Not much has changed these days except I don't get there as much as I used to and now I always get a chili cheese dog and an Italian beef to go with it. I also always get these in the drive thru nowadays too.

The best drive thru beef in the city

Portillo's Menu

One reason I have always had a great deal of respect for Portillo's other than just their quality despite being a fast food place was also their consistency. Over the years I have had beefs from different locations and they always seem to be the exact same as the others. I also respect a place that can go thru so much beef like they do and continue to put out an acceptable product. If anyone is telling you Portillo's has the best either or well then they just haven't been around or simply aren't from here. However if someone, such as myself, tells you that they have good examples of each (dogs and beef) and its better than some spots and not as good as others, well that's the truth of it. I find that everything from the bread to the beef and the gravy and peppers to be better than average but not great. When put together as a whole its a well made Italian beef sandwich and easily one of the best in the downtown area. Its nice that they are also throughout Chicagoland and are always a good option for a quick drive thru meal. Much better than BK, Wendy's, Subway, Taco Bell, McD's etc...Just another reason Chicago is fast food king.

beef with hot from Portillo's

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 3
hot peppers: 4

Score: 15/20

100 W Ontario
Chicago, IL
(312) 587-8910

locations throughout Chicagoland


Ben said...

Portillo's was the first beef I ate, and I still enjoy them from time to time. You're right that it's very consistent, even if it's not as exciting as some of the smaller beef stands. The big beef really hits the spot when I'm starving, and I like the hot dog/beef pairing that you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Your review of Portillo's is spot on, Titus. Is their beef on the level of Johnnie's? No, but then again, what is? Same goes for their hot dogs in comparison to Gene and Jude's. But they make a very good version of both an Italian beef and a Chicago style hot dog. And their consistentsy is second to none. Good stuff. We should have that Italian beef-a-thon or thin-crust-pizza-a-thon soon, buddy. Maybe late spring or early summer 2014?

Good Eating As Always, Titus,

Rob (a.k.a. deepdish on LTH or cpd007 on Serious Eats Chicago


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