Despite their proficiency in Chicago street fare, Portillo's Hot Dogs have focused on suburban locations with only one in the city proper. Perhaps scouting property is easier in the suburbs, as there are few plots large enough to support Portillo's large locations. But today, Chicago's second Portillo's opens on the Northwest corner of Canal and Taylor streets.
The 13,584-square-foot space seats about 240, and Chicagoans are giddy. Here are five facts about the new South Loop location at 520 W. Taylor St.
- This one has a rooftop patio, the first for the 43-restaurant chain. There's also a ground-level patio.
- The restaurant carries a 1920s/1930s Prohibition theme and management says 99 percent of all the memorabilia —including a 1933 World's Fair banner on the second floor— is original.
- Just because there's a Prohibition theme doesn't mean there's no booze. Visitors will find beer, even craft beer like Revolution Anti Hero, Modelo and Sam Adams.
- There's a green 1928 Ford Model AAA that's raised above the main dining floor. It's real. The motor actually runs, as workers drove the truck into the restaurant.
- Hot dogs and beef are part of Chicago's history, and so is the Great Chicago Fire. Visitors will find a vintage map showing the area where flames burned the city in 1871. If they peer through the window near the south entrance, they'll see the spot where the fire originally started.
Portillo's Hot Dogs, 520 W. Taylor St., open 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Closes at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.