Posts Tagged ‘Hot Dogs’

Ben’s Chili Bowl and Pizza Mart – Washington DC

Thursday, September 5th, 2013 by virginia

We only had half a day of sightseeing in Washington DC before we needed to head back north for our next destination, Philadelphia. It was fine by me because it was the hottest weekend of the summer and I really wasn’t feeling up to doing too much walking around (107 degrees + 7 month pregnant belly = not a happy camper). We did a short circuit of the major landmarks closest to our hotel – the White House and the Washington Monument.

The White House (true story: we sent the Obama family J's birth announcement and we got a congratulatory card in return. Obviously sent by a staffer, but still a cool keepsake for J!)

The White House (true story: we sent the Obama family a copy of J’s birth announcement and we got a congratulatory card in return. Obviously sent by a staffer, but still a cool keepsake for J!)

Looking up at the Washington Monument

Looking up at the Washington Monument

The Lincoln Memorial was within sight but simply too far away in the heat. Instead, we cooled off in the air conditioned Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Why that particular museum? I wanted to see the Julia Child exhibit. Unbeknownst to us, the exhibit had closed in January (it later reopened, and is now part of the new FOOD exhibit), and I was pretty disappointed to have missed it. However, the Star Spangled Banner exhibit is really incredible, and worth a visit on its own.

The Lincoln Memorial in the distance

The Lincoln Memorial in the distance

After driving around to see some of the other sights that we weren’t able to walk to (ie., the Capital Building, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial), we headed over to the U Street Corridor to another Washington DC landmark: Ben’s Chili Bowl.


It was a little past lunchtime so we were able to get seats at the counter right away. It was cool to be in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and see all the workers in action behind the counter.

View from a counter seat at Ben's Chili Bowl

View from a counter seat

The menu is posted on a board, and we zoned straight in on the chili half smoke. The menu isn’t very broad, although you can get hamburgers and other sandwiches. The main feature is obviously the chili, which you can get on pretty much anything.

The menu board

The menu board

Josh and I each got a chili half smoke. A half smoke is a smoked sausage that is half beef and half pork. It looks like a hot dog but is fatter in size and a lot more flavorful. The casing had been browned on a griddle, which gave it a good snap, and the texture of the sausage was firmer than a hot dog, which helped it stand out from underneath the chili. The chili itself was delicious. The meat is ground pretty small but as whole, it’s thick, savory, and has a nice kick to it. Rounding out the chili half smoke was a slather of mustard and some raw chopped onion.

The infamous chili half smoke

The famous chili half smoke

We also shared an order of fries (the chili half smokes come with potato chips on the side), which were fresh out of the fryer and piping hot, but otherwise fairly standard. We probably should have gone for the chili cheese fries, if only to be able to eat more of that delicious chili.

A side order of fries

A side order of fries

On our way out the door, we stopped to look at all the half smokes crisping up on the griddle.

Half smokes piled up on the griddle

Half smokes on the griddle

Overall Josh and I both loved Ben’s Chili Bowl. In addition to having great chili and half smokes, the place just has so much history and character. It’s definitely a DC landmark that you shouldn’t miss out on.

After leaving Ben’s, we headed to the Adams Morgan neighborhood in search of a ginormous slice of pizza. I wasn’t a huge fan of the now cancelled tv show Food Wars, but sometimes the food depicted on the show just called out to me. The Pizza Mart vs. Jumbo Slice episode stayed in my memory (probably because I love pizza and couldn’t get enough of it while I was pregnant), and we decided to try a head-to-head battle ourselves. Unfortunately, Jumbo Slice was closed, which only left us with Pizza Mart.


The inside of the shop is a bit dingy, but that’s never stopped us before. There are a few small tables in the front and some counter seating, but it looked like most people took their food to go. Josh and I decided to split one jumbo slice, since we had just filled up at Ben’s Chili Bowl right beforehand.

Jumbo slice from Pizza Mart

Jumbo slice from Pizza Mart

To get a better perspective on just how large this jumbo slice is, it was more than twice the size of my hand and covered two paper plates.

Jumbo slice vs. my hand

Jumbo slice vs. my hand

Size aside, I actually found the slice to be pretty decent. It was similar to NYC pizzeria style pizza and had a good flavor to it. It wasn’t overly cheesy, though it could have used slightly more tomato sauce. But the sauce was tangy, the cheese was nicely browned, and the crust was thin.

The underside shot. Folded in half, each half was like one super long slice of regular NYC pizza.

Is this also a can’t miss landmark? Definitely not. But it was fun trying to manage the absurdly large slice of pizza, and I enjoyed eating it. Josh wasn’t as impressed, but he’s more of a pizza snob than I am (it horrifies him that I enjoy eating Elio’s). At $5 a slice, I can see this as a great, cheap place to grab a quick bite after a night of drinking.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW

Washington, DC

Pizza Mart
2445 18th St NW
Washington, DC

Clare and Carl’s – Plattsburgh, NY

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by virginia

Our drive to Canada wouldn’t have been an official road trip without first consulting one of my favorite resources, There weren’t too many options on I-87 before we crossed the border so I ended up researching a few places in Plattsburgh, the last “big” city we would pass through in NY. The regional food of choice there is the Michigan, a hot dog covered in chili.

We planned to leave our house early enough to get to Plattsburgh for a late lunch. An unexpected detour through Schenectady slowed us down a bit (we missed a turn somewhere in Albany and ended up getting on I-90 by accident) so we were hoping to make a quick pit stop at Clare and Carl’s roadside stand for some hot dogs before continuing on our way.

As we entered Plattsburgh, I did a quick search on Josh’s iphone for the address and came up with 2 Dock Street. The GPS directed us to a spot right on the shores of Lake Champlain. However, we didn’t see any hot dog stands nearby. Baby J was starting to fuss so I fed her while Josh got out of the car to investigate. He found an old abandoned and condemned building that had Clare and Carl’s signage nearby in the parking lot, but we were clearly at the wrong place. I re-googled the correct address, and fortunately, we weren’t so far out of the way.

It was gorgeous outside, sunny and warm, so we took a few photos by the lake before heading off. We finally found the right spot, and it was exactly what I was expecting – a nondescript building full of character on the inside.


Clare and Carl’s in Plattsburgh, NY

It reminded me of White Manna, our favorite spot for sliders. There was a long u-shaped counter, the menu on a board on the wall, and lots of old signs with humorous statements.


The menu board

We sat at the counter and placed our order, although there were a lot of people eating in their cars outside. We each got a Michigan, and we decided to share an order of french fries and onion rings. I was a bit worried about getting chili all over myself, but the Michigan was pretty delicious despite the messiness. The chili was meaty, well seasoned, hot, and had a little bit of a kick to it. We ordered it with onions on top, though the waitress said her preference is to have them buried under the chili. The bun was pretty generic, but the hot dog itself was a little disappointing – a bit mushy with no snap. It kind of got lost under all that delicious chili.

The Michigan - a chili covered hot dog with onions on top

The Michigan – a chili covered hot dog

The fries and onion rings were pretty standard, though well fried. They were piping hot and crispy, and the onion rings were made with real onions, not some sort of fake composite.

French fries

French fries

Onion rings

Onion rings

Overall I was really glad we stopped at Clare and Carl’s. It’s exactly what I think of when I think about road food. It was definitely a “local” place, as the waitress knew almost everyone who walked in the door by name. There was a lot of teasing and good-natured ribbing going on, and the food was pretty good. Was it the best chili hot dog I’ve ever had? Probably not. The chili was great but the hot dog was a bit lacking. But it was quick, cheap, satisfying, and an enjoyable experience.

Clare and Carl’s
4729 NY-9
Plattsburgh, NY

Two Fat Bellies Hit the Road – Roadfood Trip to South Carolina

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 by virginia

Instead of flying down for our annual August vacation in Hilton Head, Josh and I decided to take a short road trip and drive down, making a few food-related stops along the way. I was inspired after reading Two for the Road by Jane and Michael Stern, who wrote about their various adventures in exploring the country’s best roadfood experiences. I loved the idea of just packing up, getting in the car, and driving off to taste the local cuisine at hole in the wall kind of places all over the U.S. I used their website,, in finding good stops along the way on our own road trip down south.

We hit the road on a Thursday morning, waiting until just after rush hour to get started. We decided to forgo a proper breakfast and picked up some of our favorite bagels to eat in the car instead. Our first Roadfood stop was about five hours away so we had quite a distance to travel before we could have lunch. We hit a little bit of traffic outside of Allentown, PA, so we were a little behind schedule by the time we got to our first destination in Winchester, VA, the Snow White Grill.

The Snow White Grill in Winchester, VA

The Snow White Grill is a small burger joint that features sliders, one of our favorite eats. We’ve been big fans of the sliders at White Manna in Hackensack, NJ, although the last few times we’ve gone there, the burgers were unseasoned and dried out. The Snow White Grill had a similar old timey feel, with seats at a long counter and a small menu. It’s in a quaint part of town, down a pedestrian mall with lots of restaurants and shops. It’s really a small place though so it might be easy to miss.

The menu board

The counter and grill

Josh and I both ordered red birch beer to drink, which is similar to root beer, but less sweet and not as medicinal-tasting, in my opinion. Josh and I both got sliders and shared some fries and tater tots on the side. We were surprised when the sliders came out of a warming tray instead of being cooked fresh on the grill. I was disappointed that we couldn’t watch their slider cooking method, but fortunately, the burgers still tasted fresh and hot. The meat was well seasoned and the onions were soft and sweet, though not super caramelized.

Slider with tater tots

Josh had his sliders with cheese, but because they were added after the burger had already been cooked and put together, the cheese wasn’t melted on. The residual heat softened it up though, and Josh didn’t have any complaints. The fries were the shoestring variety, which I prefer. They seemed to be the frozen kind though, as were the tater tots, but both were fried well – hot and crispy, so we enjoyed them.

Sliders with cheese and fries

I only got one slider so that I could also try the chili dog. We had recently tried the chili half smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC (more on that trip later), so I was in a chili dog mood. The chili was the ground meat variety, not too thick nor too thin, and fairly standard in terms of seasoning. The hot dog was also pretty standard, and overall it was not bad but definitely not as good as Ben’s.

Chili dog

Overall, we really enjoyed the sliders at the Snow White Grill. They were flavorful and well prepared, not overly greasy, and I wonder if they would have been even better if we had gotten them fresh off the grill. I could pass on the chili dog the next time, but the fries and tots were tasty. We were off to a good start on our roadfood trip.

Our second stop was a snack break just under two hours later, at Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton, VA. It’s a drive-in restaurant (although you can also sit inside if desired), which I was excited about as I had never experienced that before.

Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton, VA

We pulled into one of the drive in spots and took a quick look at the menu, which is fairly big but features basic grill and fry items. Since this was supposed to be our “snack”, we decided to each order a milk shake and to split one of their famous Superburgers. We placed our order through the intercom, and it was brought to us shortly by the car hop and placed on a tray next to the menu.

The menu, ordering intercom, and food tray

Josh got a vanilla milkshake while I chose strawberry. The shakes were thick and creamy, though not too thick so that we could still suck it up through the straw. The vanilla tasted like melted high quality vanilla ice cream, and was pretty delicious. The strawberry was even better in my opinion, with real bits of strawberry blended into the shake.

Vanilla and strawberry milkshakes

The Superburger was supposedly created a few years before the Big Mac. It features two beef patties, American cheese, shredded lettuce, and special sauce on a triple decker bun. It was definitely similar to a Big Mac, but tasted fresher. The meat was beefier, though we found the special sauce (similar to thousand island dressing) a bit too sweet. We liked the novelty of it but would probably get a regular burger next time, if we ever go back.

The Superburger

Overall, we loved the milkshakes at Wright’s Dairy Rite. I would definitely go back for another if we’re in the area, and maybe try some of their ice cream. The Superburger was a notch above standard fast food burgers, but nothing extraordinary. Still, we thought that it’s a great place to stop by for a quick snack, and having your food delivered to your window by a car hop is pretty neat.

After leaving Staunton, we headed towards our destination for the night, my brother’s home near Charlotte, NC. We planned to stop in Greensboro, NC for a barbecue dinner at Stamey’s, which I also read about on Unfortunately, we hit massive amounts of traffic en route and wound up arriving well after all the barbecue joints in the area had closed. Luckily my brother had saved us some marinated flank steak so we still ended up having a tasty late dinner.

The next morning we hit the road again and headed to Charleston, SC. Even though it wasn’t really on the way to Hilton Head, I really wanted to have lunch at the Hominy Grill. The restaurant is listed on, but I’ve wanted to eat there for many years now, ever since I read a profile about it in The New York Times. I was looking forward to having my first lowcountry meal of the trip, and it didn’t disappoint.

Hominy Grill in Charleston, SC

We arrived just in time for a late lunch, so the restaurant wasn’t too crowded. They brought us some boiled peanuts to start, which were easy to crack open and fun to eat.

Boiled peanuts

To start off our meal, we shared the fried green tomatoes and okra and shrimp beignets. The fried green tomatoes were perfectly breaded discs, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The tomatoes were just slightly tart, and they paired well with the creamy ranch dressing on the side.

Fried green tomatoes with ranch dressing

The shrimp and okra beignets were loosely bound fritters that fell apart delicately when I cut into them. Though a bit messy to eat, they were delicious, with lots shrimp chunks inside, and just a hint of the oozy texture of the okra. They were served with salsa and cilantro-lime sour cream, providing a southwestern twist to the dish.

Shrimp and okra beignets with salsa and cilantro-lime sour cream

For our entrees, we split the big nasty sandwich and the shrimp and grits. The big nasty features a fried chicken breast topped with cheddar cheese that is sandwiched between a biscuit and smothered with sausage gravy. It looks and sounds like a total gutbomb, but it actually wasn’t overly heavy. While I wouldn’t call it a light dish either, the fried chicken was moist, the biscuit was fluffy, and the sausage gravy was creamy but not too salty or rich. Splitting the portion was spot on, leaving us plenty of room to enjoy our other dish.

Big nasty biscuit with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy

The shrimp and grits featured plump shrimp topped with sauteed mushrooms, scallions, and bacon over a bed of cheese grits. There was a lemon wedge on the side that we squeezed over the top, and added a healthy dose of hot sauce as well. It was a great combination of salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy, a big plate of comfort food at its best. My only quibble was that the dish was only served warm, not piping hot, and the grits weren’t as creamy as I prefer.

Shrimp and grits with with mushrooms, scallions, and bacon

Overall, the Hominy Grill was one of my favorite meals all year. I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, since I had been eager to try this restaurant for years, but the food was well executed and really tasty. The menu features lots of southern/lowcountry classics, and there were so many things that I wanted to try. And even though this is a highly acclaimed restaurant, all of the dishes were under $20, with appetizers and sandwiches all under $10. I would definitely go back again, and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Charleston.

We arrived at our final destination, Hilton Head Island, in the early evening, just in time for dinner. So while our first Roadfood trip was pretty short, and we weren’t able to make it to all of the places on our list due to traffic, we had a lot of fun and got to try a lot of good food. Roadfood isn’t about finding the fanciest or best restaurants. It’s about eating locally, seeking out gems that represent the cuisine of the region. All the places that we visited served solid, down to earth food, and for cheap. It’s the best of all the worlds, and I look forward to our next Roadfood adventure.

Snow White Grill
159 North Loudoun St.
Winchester, VA

Wright’s Dairy Rite
346 Greenville Ave.
Staunton, VA

Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Ave.
Charleston, SC

NC – Cooking at Home

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 by virginia

My brother and sister-in-law are very hospitable hosts and they prepared a really delicious lunch for us after we got back from church on Sunday afternoon. My brother grilled up some awesome filet mignons and hot dogs while my sister-in-law made garlicky and tasty mussels.

For the filet mignons, my brother used Paula Deen’s house rub recipe to season the steaks. The rub is just salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and is really flavorful despite the simple preparation.


Simply seasoned and grilled filet mignon

He cooked it for just a few minutes on the bbq grill and it was a perfect medium rare.

Flavorful and juicy steak

Flavorful and juicy steak

For the hot dogs, he slathered them with a spicy chili sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce mixture and then grilled them, which gave them a nice kick and an Asian twist on flavor.

Hot dogs covered in a spicy chili sauce and then grilled

Hot dogs covered in a spicy chili sauce and then grilled

To prepare the mussels, we scrubbed and de-bearded them, making sure to discard any that appeared dead or had cracked shells.

Huge bowl of mussels ready to be cooked

Huge bowl of mussels ready to be cooked

Then we chopped up one small onion, a couple of garlic cloves, and measured out some butter and white wine.

Garlic, white wine, onions, butter

Garlic, white wine, onions, butter

My sister-in-law then sauteed the onions and garlic for a little bit before adding everything into a huge stock pot, letting the mussels gently steam open. The result was a huge bowl of garlicky mussels with lots of flavorful broth in which we dipped toasted pieces of bread. Yum!

Delicious steamed mussels with garlic and white wine

Delicious steamed mussels with garlic and white wine flavor

Guayaquil Day 1 – Tenedor de Oro

Saturday, October 10th, 2009 by virginia

Josh and I took a super early morning flight to Guayaquil so that we would get there early enough to see some of the city. Guayaquil is a pretty large city and the most populous in Ecuador. There are lots of different neighborhoods to explore so as soon as we dropped our bags off at our hotel, we took a taxi straight to the Malecon, the riverfront area.

There are lots of food stalls all along the Malecon, and we couldn’t decide where we wanted to eat. There were many different options to choose from but we wanted to stick with typical Ecuadorian cuisine. We ended up going ordering from Tenedor de Oro, which I think is a chain because we saw several of those stalls all the way down the Malecon. We hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch on the plane and we were starving since it was early afternoon at this point, but we had dinner reservations already so we decided to just split an entree and two sides.

We started off with two cold Pilseners, which are Ecuadorian beers. Not bad, a bit light though in flavor. We prefer darker and hoppier beers. In afternoon heat though, these beers really hit the spot.

There's nothing better than cold beers on a hot day

What's better than cold beers on a hot day?

I was excited to see salchipapas on the menu, as I had just tried them at Pio Pio (post coming later) and absolutely loved them. The french fries were ordinary but they were hot and freshly fried. The hot dogs were cut into the shape of baby octopus, which I thought was cute. That also gave the hot dogs more surface area to crisp up when they were fried, and I really liked this dish.

Salchipapas - hot dogs and french fries

Salchipapas - hot dogs and french fries

The ketchup, however, was really strange! It was pink and almost translucent, with little specks in it. It was also very sweet and mild in tomato flavor. I definitely prefer Heinz over this ketchup.

Fluorescent pink ketchup

Fluorescent pink ketchup

Our other side dish was fried plantains, which we call tostones in NY but they call patacones in Ecuador. These were also freshly fried and not too starchy but they didn’t give us any sort of sauce to go along with them. We asked if they had any salsa picante, or hot sauce, and they seemed a bit confused. We ended up with a little container that I think had mayo and ketchup and some sort of chili sauce mixed together. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but it wasn’t terrible.

Fried green plantains (tostones/patacones)

Fried green plantains (tostones/patacones)

Our main dish was arroz con pollo. It was tasty enough, kind of like fried rice with peas, carrots and peppers mixed in, but there wasn’t a whole lot of chicken. They gave us a huge platter of it though, more than enough for the two of us, and it came with pieces of maduro (sweet plantains) on top that I enjoyed a lot. The dish kind of needed a bit more salt but I liked that they sprinkled fresh herbs on top.

Arroz con pollo

Arroz con pollo

Overall it was a nice quick “snack” and a good introduction to Ecuadorian food. The total for this feast? $7, including the beer. Unreal! They use U.S. Dollars in Ecuador so no need to exchange money or worry about conversion rates. I’d definitely recommend this place to anyone visiting Guayaquil for the first time. Sitting outside next to the river on the Malecon was a scenic and relaxing way to get acquainted with the city and the cuisine.

Tenedor de Oro
Guayaquil, Ecuador

Here are a few highlights from our walk along the Malecon:





Pretzels and Pretzel Dogs

Saturday, July 4th, 2009 by virginia

I saw this great recipe and fun pictures on Food Mayhem for pretzel dogs, and I knew immediately that I would have to try it out since the recipe had simple ingredients and didn’t seem too time consuming. My only reservation was that I suck at baking. I don’t know why, but I have very little success when it comes to baking, even though it is the only time I follow recipes to the letter. Even my attempts at no-knead bread have failed miserably. Oh well, practice makes perfect, right?

I had all the ingredients on hand and figured there’s no better time to make hot dogs than July 4. I used my often-neglected Kitchen Aid stand mixer to do all the hard work, then set the dough in an oil bowl to rise.

Letting the Kitchen Aid do all the kneading

Letting the Kitchen Aid do all the kneading

I was surprised that the dough actually did double in size, and my hopes for a successful completion of a baking recipe rose.

First this

Started off at this size...

Now it's double the size!

Now it's double the size!

Next came the fun part – shaping the pretzels and pretzel dogs. I pulled the dough from the bowl and quickly shaped it into a rectangle, taking care not to handle the dough too much. Using a wide flat blade, I cut the dough into 12 pieces, setting aside seven pieces for the number of Hebrew National hot dogs that come in a package (why seven?).

Strips of dough ready to be shaped

Strips of dough ready to be shaped

The dough was soft and springy so I just pulled it a bit to stretch it out into long strips; there was no need to roll it into a snake. It took me a little while but I eventually figured out how to form a pretzel without manhandling the dough too much. Then I dipped them into the baking soda water and placed them on the cookie sheet.

Dipping the pretzels in a baking soda/water mixture

Dipping the pretzels in a baking soda/water mixture

For the pretzel dogs, I patted each hot dog dry with a paper towel then twisted the dough around it. I had a few scraps leftover from each that I quickly kneaded together, let rest for a bit, then made into regular pretzels. These turned out to be a bit denser than the other pretzels, but still tasty. Baking took longer than the eight minutes stated in the recipe – it was actually closer to 10-12 minutes. I also found that eating the pretzels right away made them taste too fluffy and bready.

Hot pretzels right out of the oven

Hot pretzels right out of the oven

Once I let them sit and cool down for a bit, they shrank a little and became crispier on the outside and chewier in the middle. The pretzels were also a little too sweet for me (they reminded me of the honey wheat pretzels), so I might cut back on the sugar next time (hopefully that won’t affect the rest of the recipe! Like I said, I suck at baking, and I have no idea how baking works).

Almost ready to eat...

Almost ready to eat...

The pretzel dogs were my favorite. The salty hot dog and the sweet pretzel, plus a dipping sauce of ketchup and mustard, really hit the spot.

Pretzel dog innards - yum!

Pretzel dog innards - yum!

Overall, this is really a great recipe to make, and I even I managed not to mess it up too badly. I actually found that they tasted better reheated. I don’t know if the it’s because of the butter and salt you brush on when they first come out of the oven, but the texture was much crunchier on the outside and chewier on the inside after a quick reheat in a 375 degree oven. I can’t wait to make them for our next cocktail party!

Chicago Day 3 – Portillo’s

Sunday, June 14th, 2009 by virginia


We had some time to kill before our early evening flight back to NY so we decided to drop our bags off at the airport and take the train into downtown Chicago. My original plan was to find Hot Doug’s but unfortunately they’re closed on Sundays. No duck fat fries for me, sadly, but I still wanted to try a Chicago style hot dog. The train ride from the airport into the city takes a while, so we had time to do some internet research on Josh’s iphone (seriously, what did people do before iphones?). We found Portillo’s, which is a chain restaurant but had good reviews and a branch that was conveniently located near a stop on the airport train.

We’ve been to Chicago once before and luckily the area where we got off the train was near the hotel we stayed in the last time; we were able to find the restaurant without any trouble. This particular branch of Portillo’s was an homage to Maxwell Street. There were fake building facades and mannequins hanging about. There was also lively jazz music playing over the speakers, giving the place a festive atmosphere. It was kind of like dining at Disney World.

Festive and jazzy atmosphere

Festive and jazzy atmosphere

The restaurant is set up cafeteria-style, with different stations for hot dogs and sandwiches, pasta and pizza, and alcoholic drinks. We were after the hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches so we only had to go through one line. After you order, you can watch the workers assembling your sandwiches through glass partitions.

Watching the hot dogs being assembled

Watching the hot dogs being assembled

Josh and I each got a Chicago style hot dog with everything, which includes mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato slices, sport peppers, and a pickle spear, all served together on a poppy seed bun. The bun got a little soggy from all the toppings, but everything tasted really good together. Usually I like ketchup, mustard, and a little bit of sauerkraut on my hot dogs, but I liked the fresh ingredients on the Chicago style, and the pickled vegetables added a nice zing. We couldn’t taste the difference between a vienna sausage (which Chicago style hot dogs are made of) and a regular hot dog though.

Chicago hot dog jam packed with toppings

Chicago hot dog jam packed with toppings

We also shared an Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers. It’s like a Philly cheesesteak, minus the cheese. The thin slices of beef were topped with a mix of pickled vegetables, and the hot peppers were really quite spicy. I didn’t enjoy this as much as the hot dog because it was really heavy and greasy. I’m glad that we had decided to split a sandwich, as I could never have finished one by myself. It was really a gut bomb!

Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers and tons of grease

Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers and tons of grease

We also got an order of large fries, which were the frozen crinkle cut variety but freshly fried and tasty. They were so hot that I actually burned my tongue on the first one I tried.

Crispy crinkle cut fries

Crispy crinkle cut fries

Overall I really liked the Chicago style hot dog, despite the soggy bun. It’s definitely something that I would put together here. I might still add ketchup though. I’m not sure if Chicagoans would find that blasphemous but I missed the sweetness of the ketchup. I wasn’t a fan of the Italian beef, however, as it was just way too greasy and the meat was too bland. The pickled vegetables helped a bit but not enough. I don’t know how Portillo’s version rates against other places but it seems to me that most Chicago style dogs would be similar, as it’s just the ingredients that make it what it is. I’ll have to try the Shake Shack’s version and see how it compares.

Portillo’s (multiple locations)
100 W Ontario St.
Chicago, IL

After our lunch, we took a walk around the city. We only had about two hours before we had to head back to the airport but I think we covered a lot of ground in such a short time!

Kayakers on the canal and the Sears Tower in the background

Navy Pier