This is for a series of posts for a 2014 Chicago trip including Alinea, Giordano's, Bottlefork, Bub City, Portillo's Hot Dogs, Doubletree Hilton: Magnificent Mile, and Garrett Popcorn Shops.
With Hot Doug's closing down, I obviously wanted to make the journey to cased meat Mecca during my recent trip to Chi-town. But alas, my packed schedule didn't allow for such a treat. Undaunted, I went to the next best thing for standard Chicago-style eats - Portillo's Hot Dogs.
Entering into this hot stop for Chicago foodie staples, you're transported into a jarring mix of sights that's not unlike something you'd encounter in New Orleans. It's hard to imagine that you're a few blocks away from the Magnificent Mile.
First things first. We had to try a proper Chicago-style hot dog. Once I saw the neon green relish on the assembly line, I knew we were in the right place.
Hot Dog [$2.65]
Mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle, sport peppers, steamed poppy seed bun
Immersed in a soft-steamed bun was a dog with sufficient snap. But really, it's the toppings that make each bite. The ripe tomato softened the acidity from the sport pepper and kosher pickle, with the chopped onions offering some bite. But for me, it's the celery salt that makes it. Delicious. Ketchup need not apply.
Chili Cheese Dog [$3.15]
Chili, cheddar, onions
We also got a chili cheese dog, which was a creamy, savory mess (in a good way!), with the bite of onion offering some texture.
Italian Beef [$5.10] with Hot & Sweet Peppers [$1]
I also needed to get an Italian Beef, fully dipped of course. The bread was completely soggy by the time I got to it, but despite the lack of texture, the peppery mix of succulent beef with the juxtaposition of both hot and sweet peppers was an explosion in mouth. The giardiniera was the cherry on the top.
Large Cheese Fries [$2.74]
The large cheese fries weren't exactly large, but they were certainly crispy, with the crinkle cut texture offering the perfect vessel to sop up the creamy, salty cheese dip.
Overall, Portillo's offers affordable eats and showcases the good, simple food that Chicago is known for. It's unadulterated and delicious.