“They’ve hung everything on me but the Chicago fire.” – Al Capone
Welcome to Portillo’s, where Al Capone’s famous words set the stage for the beloved Chicago-based eatery. Minnesota’s second Portillo’s opened in Maple Grove in late January 2018, giving Minneapolis Northwest another must-visit restaurant. With its famous Italian beef, hot dogs, burgers, salads and chicken sandwiches, Portillo’s attracts customers from all over the state looking for a taste of Chicagoland.
Owner and founder Dick Portillo opened the first Portillo’s hot dog stand, known as “The Dog House,” in 1963 in Villa Park on the outskirts of Chicago. Just four years later, “The Dog House” was a success and ready for a new look, a new location, and a name change to Portilllo’s. More than 40 years passed before the popular chain expanded outside of Illinois, opening in California in 2005, followed by Indiana, Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Portillo’s piping hot, made-to-order food is served in a 1930’s prohibition-themed restaurant in the Arbor Lakes Shopping and Dining District. There is ample seating for more than 250 customers in the 9,000 square-foot venue that also sports a seasonal outdoor patio and two drive-thru lanes.
The spacious interior features fun and interesting throwback memorabilia: black and white photos, neon lights, antique signs and beer posters, and a vintage motorcycle hangs from the ceiling. By the food pick-up area you can view the Portillo’s Wall of Fame featuring signed photos of celebrities enjoying hot dogs and fries, including familiar faces like Mindy Kaling, Vince Vaughn, Jay Leno and Melissa McCarthy. You can also see right into the bright and bustling kitchen, which runs the entire length of the restaurant, and witness the ongoing food preparation.
Portillo’s buzzes with energy and enthusiasm as soon as you walk in the door, and it’s helpful to know the process for ordering before diving into the delightful action.
Placing your order:
1) Head to the back right (NE) corner of the building to view the menu and enter the ordering line.
2) Place your order.
3) Obtain your receipt with your order number printed on it.
4) Stroll to the pickup area (peak into the kitchen as you go).
5) Pick up your food when your number is called!
You can order online for pick-up in the restaurant (over by the dessert counter) or even get delivery ($15 order minimum). Catering is also available when your special event calls for a special meal.
So what’s best on the Portillo’s menu? Pretty much everything. For a main sandwich, you can’t beat the Italian beef. The juicy sliced beef and grilled hot peppers boast a hearty flavor, and the juice-soaked bun is an extra bonus. For something even more savory, opt for the Beef-n-Cheddar Croissant.
Ordering a hot dog off the menu doesn’t mean you’ll get a plain hot dog with ketchup and mustard. A hot dog at Portillo’s is the definitive Chicago-style dog that comes with everything but the kitchen sink – mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced red tomatoes, peppers and a kosher pickle, all on a steamed poppy seed bun. This Chicago staple is worth trying if you haven’t yet!
Other main dishes include the Char-Grilled Italian Sausage Sandwich, burgers – everything from a classic hamburger to a mammoth double bacon cheeseburger – and a variety of char-broiled and breaded chicken sandwiches. Half and full slabs of ribs are on the menu, as well as traditional pastas like Double Stuffed Cheese Ravioli, lasagna and chicken parmesan.
The sandwiches and pastas are delicious but the sides stand on their own. Crinkle fry lovers will be head over heels for Portillo’s crispy spuds, and the onion rings are out-of-this-world good – perfectly crunchy on the outside with a soft, tasty onion on the inside. Additional sides range from baked potato and coleslaw to a side salad and fruit cup.
If you’re looking for a healthier meal, don’t hesitate to try one of Portillo’s salads, which are filled to the brim with fresh mixed greens and veggies. The Chopped Salad remains a fan favorite with a blend of romaine and iceberg lettuce, ditalini pasta, diced chicken, bacon, tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese, green onion, red cabbage and tossed with a homemade dressing. Or spice things up with the Chipotle BBQ Salad or the Tuscan Chicken and Bacon Salad.
Finally, desserts at Portillo’s deserve their very own award. Have you heard of the famous “cake shake?” The staff blends a full slice of its celebrated chocolate cake into a creamy milkshake, making it a truly unique, must-try dessert. You also can’t go wrong with the Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Éclair Cake, and (perhaps) the best Chocolate Cake in town.
To serve such a varied menu to dine-in and drive-thru customers, as well as fulfill online and delivery orders, the Portillo’s staff have to be exceedingly fast and efficient, and they are, while also being extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is in good spirits and more than happy to get you the food you crave. Grab your friends and family because a trip to Portillo’s is in order!
Slow down and enjoy. Portillo’s may technically be fast food, but that doesn’t mean you need to sprint through it. Savor the boisterous atmosphere around you and check out the fun art and décor. Don’t worry if there are lines because they move quickly.
Work as a team. If it does look packed, have someone in your group be on the watch for a table. There are enough customers coming and going at any given time that seats constantly free up, and it’s helpful if someone can keep an eye out.
Get dessert. Portillo’s hits a mammoth homerun with its dessert menu. The portions are large and perfect for splitting with a few people. No matter what you order for your main meal, be sure to save room for a few bites of sweetness. Or take one home with you for later!
Directions:12251 Elm Creek Blvd N
Maple Grove, MN 55369