Whenever my two brothers from Seattle come to town, they have two things on their minds: Italian beef and hot dogs.
For hot dogs, my brother Kim prefers Portillo's. He used to go to the original location in Villa Park with his then-girlfriend-now-wife when they were in high school.
It's amusing to me that the place is pronounced Pour-till-o's rather than the more Spanish-sounding (and the owners are Mexican) Pour-tea-o's. No one would ever go there, of course, planning to have Mexican food.
With hot dogs on the brain, Kim and I went to the location on Roosevelt last week, and I thought the dog was very good, with two important qualifications.
The tomatoes were mealy, but that's forgivable, as we're many months from tomato season. Still, I had the distinct suspicion that these tomatoes had been refrigerated, which is a sure way to wreck them.
Less forgivable is the bun, which like those at too many hot dog places, was horrible: mushy, card-boardy, falling apart and clearly, painfully over-steamed.
The wiener itself was pretty good: nice snap on the casing, light garlicky flavor, fine. The bun, however, disgraces the dog.
Before I declare any hot dog the best, I need to be comfortable with all components, and I have to say, the poorly prepared bun at Portillo's breaks the deal, at least for me.
Do you have a superior place for Chicagoland's favorite sausage? Do tell.