Your post was the first time I've heard of Portillo's. It would seem that it would have been discussed on here at some time so, I did a search and could not come up with any reference to it. Therefore your report is the first on the place. The place looks interesting and I would think our Chicagoland members would have something to say about the place as well as their other places - Barnelli's, Honey Jam Cafe, Luigi's House and Julians Plaza. Sounds like the guy, Dick Portillo started with a hot dog trailer in 1963 and built an empire! Would like to hear more about Portillo's from our Chicagolanders!
I'm sorry to see your roadtrip come to an end. You both have an excellent blog and a great reporting style Thank You Very Much!
I'm sure I have mentioned Portillo's at least a few times but probably in reference to Italian beef sandwiches which are my favorite there. I have even eaten at Dick Portillo's first trailer back in the 1960's, introduced to him by my friend who was a local cop and a regular at the stand. Just to clarify, Barnelli's is inside of a Portillo's, one line for regular Portillo's items, another line for Barnelli's with no crossover. My local Portillo's has this same situation with the one side specializing in ribs and salads. I also have a Honey Jam Cafe which is right next door to my Portillo's location. The place is always packed but for me, not to my liking. There are far better options for breakfast and lunch. We go to Luigi's now and then, the food is quite good. As with all of the Portillo locations, decor is as important as the food and the settings can be pretty elaborate. As mentioned in big666dog's blog, the ordering system at Portillo's is pretty amazing and even with long lines at the counter AND the drive up, you get your food pretty quickly. I have been in and out of the drive up with 15 cars ahead of me in about 10 minutes or less because they have people who come out to the car way ahead of the drive up window and take your order and radio it in. Efficiency and service are number 1 next to good food. BTW, on the other hand Luigi's is a fairly formal, nice sit down place. We have gone there to a nice formal wedding reception as well as work lunches. Honey Jam is also a standard sit down place. Sorry to stray away from big666dog's great thread!