For Chris and Rudy Michalek, the secret to 50 years of wedded bliss is a shared love of Portillo’s! So when they planned a European excursion to celebrate their golden anniversary, they knew that they had to pack Portillo’s too! The couple carried their Portillo’s sign to an amazing 19 cities in six different countries. We caught up with these lovebirds to hear their travel tales and see what has them so obsessed with Portillo’s!
Where in Europe did you visit with the Portillo’s sign?
We visited the following 19 cities:
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Budapest, Hungary
- Veradzin, Croatia
- Korolev, Croatia
- Split, Croatia
- Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Neum, Bosnia Herzegovina
- Rome, Italy
- Messina, Sicily
- Mykonos, Greece
- Delos, Greece
- Tsambika, Greece
- Rhodes, Greece
- Fira, Santorini, Greece
- Oia, Santorini, Greece
- Athens, Greece
- Positano, (Amalfi Coast) Italy
- Sorrento, Italy
- Naples, Italy
What gave you the idea to take the Portillo’s sign with you on your European excursion?
We’ve noticed that at times, some newspapers feature travelers holding their publication while vacationing. So we thought: “Why not take our FAVORITE restaurant with us on our 50th Anniversary Europe trip?”
Why is Portillo’s so special to you?
Rudy had just graduated from College (1965) and was working at the Jewel Food Store in Villa Park, Illinois. Dick Portillo had his first Dog House on the property near the Jewel Food Store. Rudy’s favorite meal was Portillo’s and when we married, it became my favorite too. We’ve made it a practice to visit the various Chicagoland Portillo’s and our daughters who travel with their jobs often visit the Portillo’s in Arizona and California. Finally, our son-in-law, Paul, a Brit, became a Portillo’s fan too when he and Victoria (our eldest daughter) decided to have their wedding rehearsal dinner at Portillo’s in Naperville.
We have introduced our neighbors to the two Portillo’s in the Tampa area and have “fingers crossed” (have requested this several times) that our two adult kids will have a Portillo’s soon in the Dallas area and we too, will have a Portillo’s Denver in the near future.
Did anyone recognize the sign while you were traveling with it abroad?
Needless to say, (since we often asked travelers to take our picture), we did get questions: “Why the sign?” and we shared that Portillo's was our favorite! At least three times, we met Chicagoans who of course, recognized Portillo's and said: “They love it too!”
What was your favorite place to take the Portillo’s sign?
All were special; however, for “most recognized” would be the Trevi Fountain in Rome and for “least reconized” the Castle at Veradzin, Croatia.
Finally, what is your go-to Portillo’s order?
It’s always the same … Rudy: 2 Chicago Dogs sans peppers and 1 Italian Beef with Sweet Peppers, wet/dipped and Chris: 1 Italian Beef with Sweet Peppers, wet/dipped, 1 Tamale plus “to go” 1 Chocolate Cake.
Do you know someone who is as obsessed with Portillo's as Chris and Rudy? Submit your story here!