We had a client in Chicago who required that we spend a week on site in the western suburbs doing some work with their staff.  Mary Beth, one of our staff, and I made the trip together.  Mary Beth rarely traveled for the company, and asked me where we were going to eat in Chicagoland.  She mentioned that she liked seafood, and suggested Joe’s Crab Shack.  I told her that while Joe’s was fine, the place nearby where we were staying that I needed to take her to eat was Portillo’s.  She assumed I was the biggest cheapskate in town.  ” It’s a hot dog place,” she said.  I told her that if you wanted a really high end meal, we should not go to either place, but, for basic grub, I always liked Portillo’s.

Portillo’s is another road food spot that started out as one location, but has grown into a chain and mail order business based on the success of the one location.  I have to say that their Chicago dog is my personal favorite hot dog.  The poppy seed bun, the pickle on top of relish, onions, et al makes this the perfect road food!  Now at almost 50 locations, almost all in Illinois (one In Merrillville, IN, and two in California for some reason), Portillo’s really has gone beyond road food status and is on it’s way to becoming another Sonic or TGI Fridays, as it’s menu has expanded into many other foods and beverages.  Good for them, but don’t lose the charm.  If you go to their home page, there is a nice video about the founding of their company, repeated in print elsewhere on the site.  To me, Portillo’s has still retained the charm and quality food so far; Amazing, considering the number of locations.  Mary Beth even had to admit that she liked it better than Joe’s Crab Shack!  The jury is out as to whether or not she stills thinks I am a cheapskate for taking here there.


The term “roadfood” is trademarked by Jane and Michael Stern of www.roadfood.com, and is used by permission.  They are the founders of the roadfood movement.  Check out their books on Amazon, and head out on one of their food tours!


Portillo's Hot Dogs