A Wisconsinite’s First Introduction to Portillo’s

Wisconsin’s first Portillo’s opened in July, 2016. Our dining critic gets schooled on this Chi-town institution.

The Windy city equivalent of our Kopp’s no longer requires a drive south of the border to get the brand’s ballyhooed Chi-style hot dogs, Italian beef, char-broiled burgers and chocolate cake. Brookfield’s new Portillo’s location at 17685 W. Bluemound Rd. offers all the menu standards (bonus item is the Badger Brat), along with its trademark speedy, two-lane drive-thru service.

To experience – and perhaps fully understand – Portillo’s appeal, I road-tripped to an Illinois location with Chicago native/88Nine Radio Milwaukee on-air host Ken Sumka, whose enthusiasm for the chain could rival that of a Cheesehead with Packers fever. After two dogs (one buried in chili), a burger, an Italian beef sandwich, some wonderfully crisp onion rings and a hedonistic chocolate cake shake (literally the union of cake and ice cream), we found common ground. Or not. See the chart below.


‘Hot for These Dogs’ appears in the August 2016 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the August issue on newsstands beginning August 1, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.
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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.