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Portillo’s Releases Its First Vegan Hot Dog

Plus a fundraiser to help a Portage Park restaurant owner pay for emergency surgery

Two hot dogs covered with vegetables sit on a piece of waxed paper beside a tray with all the fixings and a container of more hot dogs already wrapped.
Portillo’s collaborated with Field Roast for its first plant-based hot dog.

Portillo’s, the beloved local chain of hot dog stands that is poised to become a nationwide ambassador of Chicago-style encased meats, has expanded its reach even further: on Tuesday it introduced its first vegan dog in collaboration with Field Roast, a plant-based meat and cheese company out of Seattle.

The Garden Dog, seasoned with black pepper, paprika, and garlic, is the same size as the standard meat dog (and larger than the ones Field Roast sells in grocery stores) and is prepared the same way: chargrilled on a special meat-free portion of the grill, then topped with all the “dragged through the garden” Chicago fixings. It replaces the portobello mushroom sandwich, Portillo’s previous option for vegetarian and vegan customers, the Tribune reports; presumably the veggie dog, which is all the toppings without the sausage, will still be available.

Tribune food critic Louisa Chu tasted a Garden Dog and pronounced it “fantastic.” It tastes great with all the toppings, but more importantly, it has the snappy casing of all the best Chicago dogs.

Portage Park restaurant owner seeks help to pay for emergency surgery

A GoFundMe campaign is underway at Pueblo Nuevo, a Mexican restaurant in Portage Park, to raise money to cover the cost of an emergency surgery chef-owner Lourdes “Lulú” Alvarez underwent two weeks ago to remove a pair of noncancerous tumors. Alvarez doesn’t have insurance, and her family could only cover $30,000 of the $80,000 surgery, Block Club reports. The restaurant is currently closed while Alvarez recovers, but she hopes to reopen in two or three weeks; her husband and daughter will help in the kitchen and dining room, and she plans to buy an armchair and sit at the door and personally thank every customer who helped contribute.

Brendan Sodikoff teams up with grocery chain

Brendan Sodikoff, founder of Au Cheval and Hogsalt Hospitality, will partner with Dom’s Kitchen & Market, Bob Mariano’s newish grocery venture, to oversee all culinary operations, Crain’s reports. There is currently one Dom’s location in Lincoln Park with another slated for Old Town later this year, but eventually Mariano plans to expand to 15 stores by 2025. Sodikoff will oversee all the food operations, including menu development, and store design.

The facade of a grocery store with the name in large letters above several large windows.
Dom’s Kitchen & Market opened in Lincoln Park last summer.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

High schools students find a new way to protest lousy lunches

A rebellion is underway at Wendall Phillips Academy, a CPS high school in Bronzeville: in order to highlight the poor quality of the lunch offerings in the cafeteria, a group of students has created a series of highly produced, high-resolution photos of styrofoam plates holding sad-looking peanut butter sandwiches, tiny puddles of chili, and wrinkled hot dogs accompanied by half a dozen slices of dried-up cucumber. The students told the Sun-Times that they hoped the project would draw more attention to the school lunch problem.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, but Buona comes close

In honor of National Italian Beef Day on May 27, Buona Beef will be giving away free Italian beef sandwiches between May 27 and May 30, NBC 5 reports. But since nothing in life is really free, customers will have to download to Buona app in order to claim their sandwiches.