Schwierking: What’s the deal with Portillo’s?


The second in “Sam’s Unpopular Opinions!” features an argument that Portillo’s, in fact, is not quite the best. 

Sam Schwierking

Portillo’s is home to America’s favorite Italian beef, burgers, salads, Chicago-style hot dogs and chocolate cake.” Portillo’s is no different than any other fast food hot dog and burger shake shack, and I will stand strong with that claim. I know I am going to get a substantial kick backlash for this week’s version of “Sam’s Unpopular Opinions!,” but Portillo’s is hands down the most overrated restaurant chain I have been to.

I have lived in Chicago for seven months now and have subsequently been taken to or gone to Portillo’s multiple different times and it has been overhyped every time. Please do not misconstrue what I am trying to say, I am saying it is overrated, not that it isn’t good. What I am trying to explain is that it does not and will not ever live up to the hype.

The first issue I have with the monster Chicagoan fast food chain is what’s stated in the first sentence of this article: the restaurant claims it is “America’s favorite Italian beef, burger, salads, Chicago-style hot dogs and chocolate cake.” THIS IS JUST PREPOSTEROUS. Let me show you why. 

The first problem is the hot dog. Don’t get me wrong, the hot dog is done correctly with the absence of ketchup, but it is a subpar, quickly made hot dog. It’s sad for Portillo’s to claim their hot dog is America’s favorite when the loaded hot dog isn’t even the best I have had. 

Being from Grand Rapids, Michigan, we have our own hot dog we swear by. Yesterdog is miles in front of Portillo’s, with a better culture and a better atmosphere for eating that hot dog. And I know for a fact there are even better hot dog places out there.

The next issue I have is with the burger. When you look up “America’s favorite burger” on the internet, you know what comes up: Five Guys. How can you claim you serve America’s favorite burger when you are not the first Google search? Many people on the West Coast would also argue In-N-Out would be better as well (even though I believe In-N-Out is overrated too, but that is a separate issue). Even besides that point, there are at least five other fast food burgers before I would have Portillo’s, including Five Guys, Shake Shack, Steak ‘n Shake, Culver’s and Red Robin.

The last and final argument I have for the restaurant is the lack of clarity on what the restaurant actually is. It is casual fast food, so you can go inside and eat or go through the drive-thru, but the menu is so large. It isn’t a burger or hot dog joint. For some reason, the chili is under the hot dog section on the menu and it isn’t a barbecue place — even though they sell wings. Portillo’s has mastered the restaurant version of the saying “a jack of all trades is a master of none.”

For these reasons, I will not give in to the tornado that Portillo’s is wrapping people up in. Please let me reiterate that I am not saying it is a bad restaurant. I would choose to go there some nights if I was not a broke college student, but it lacks the product that needs to live up to the claim of the restaurant.