Emily and Abby Schaub are Portillo's super fans. To prove it, over the course of three days Emily and Abby ate at every Portillo's restaurant in Chicagoland. In just one of the three days, they ate at 22 Portillo's!
We caught up with big sister Emily to discuss their fast and furious tour of all of the Portillo's in Illinois.
Q: Let's start from the beginning: Why are you such a fan of Portillo's?
Like many others from the Chicago suburbs, I have grown up going to Portillo's frequently to get my Chicago-style hot dog fix. As I grew older, my tastes developed, and my eyes were opened to the mind-blowing deliciousness of Italian beef! Actually, I discovered that I loved practically everything about Portillo's: the intricate, vintage décor; the ordering efficiency; the music; the consistency; and my close proximity to many convenient locations.
Q: How did you get the idea for visiting so many Portillo's restaurants in such little time?
During my junior year of high school, I was looking at one of the Portillo's paper menus and started checking off all of the locations on the back that I had already visited. I realized that visiting all of the locations would be challenging, but doable. Once I got home, I began mapping out all the Portillo's to see how it could be done. It became a huge dream of mine to do this road trip, but I had to wait two years before I finally had enough time and money to go.
Q: Tell us about planning your trip: Did you map it all out ahead of time?
I mapped out the trip into three separate days:
- Day 1: North and Far-West suburbs,
- Day 2: Chicago
- Day 3: West and South suburbs
On day three alone, we went to 22 Portillo's!
Q: Please tell us some details about the actual tour.
Luckily for me, I received a few Portillo's gift cards from friends and family at my high school graduation party, and I decided it was finally time to go! I brought my sister along for all three days, and two friends joined for separate days. I bought something at every store, but we alternated who was going to get the next thing. For example, my sister, Abby, started with a hot dog at Elk Grove Village, I got a root beer at Rolling Meadows, Abby got fries at Arlington Heights, I got onion rings at Niles, etc. It made it possible to buy something at each location and not waste money and food.
Toward the end of the two longer days, we ended up ordering items like breadsticks and poppy seed muffins because we just weren't that hungry anymore. In Willowbrook, I actually ordered a little carton of milk, and my sister still thinks I'm a bit strange. Oh, well!
- The first day of the road trip began around noon at Elk Grove Village and ended around 7 PM at Schaumburg.
- On the second day, we took the Metra train into the city and walked to Portillo's from the train station.
- On the third day, we knew we would need the whole day to fit it all in, so we started right at 10:30 AM at the Glendale Heights location. Downers Grove was our final destination and we got there at about 9 PM!
As proof of our adventure, we took pictures inside and outside of each store.
Q: What are your favorite items at Portillo's?
My favorite things to get at Portillo's are the Chicago-style jumbo hot dog, Italian beef with hot peppers, Maxwell Street Polish sausage, chopped salad, cheese fries, cheeseburger with hot peppers, ribs, and chocolate cake. I have tried almost everything on the menu, and practically everything is great. My dad and I like to get a Maxwell and a chopped salad and split them when we go together.
Q: Have you ever been to a Portillo's outside the Chicagoland area?
Abby and I had the opportunity in July 2014 to visit the Buena Park, California location on a trip to Disneyland. We didn't have a car because we took a shuttle from the airport, but we found a bus that stopped right by the Portillo's and knew we had to go.
Q: What are your plans for visiting future Portillo's as the chain continues to expand?
We have every intention of keeping up as fast as we can with the expansion of our favorite restaurant. Of course, we had to visit the Rockford Portillo's when it opened! Our cousin is getting married in Arizona, so that may be our chance to visit Portillo's in Tempe, Scottsdale, and possibly even Moreno Valley. We are excited for all of the new locations that are opening up. Keep up the fantastic work, Portillo's!
Portillo's fans can register now to receive a free piece of chocolate cake on their birthday from any Portillo's restaurant. Sign up here.
Do you know a Portillo's super fan? We'd love to tell your story. Nominate someone (or yourself!) by emailing us. We'll consider doing an interview for our website.