CHITOWN CHOWDOWN: Al’s Italian Beef vs. Portillo’s Hot Dogs

Now, after you’ve had a few drinks in downtown Chitown, you *might* wanna eat something. Good thing they’ve got late-nite institutions like Al’s Italian Beef and Portillo’s Hot Dogs to meet your drunken needs, serving up Italian Beef, Chicago Dogs, and everything in between! We’re gonna stick with the classics, though. Can Al’s make a better hot dog than Portillo’s? How does Portillo’s Italian Beef stand up to a place with Italian Beef in its name? That’s what we’re about to find out…
al's_italian_beef+chicago_dog (3)

Al’s Italian Beef

al's_chicago_dog (1)
The Chicago Dog, while compact, had a nice snap, good tang from that neon relish, and a little kick from the hot peppers. It even comes with fries, which taste fresh-cut, nice and hot with just enough chew.
al's_italian_beef_sandwich (3)
I ordered the beef dipped, which meant it was extra messy, with the bread barely holding it together. And paying extra for cheese sauce was not a good idea, since most of it ended up in my hand, not my mouth. But man, this beef is sooooo tender…. This one’s gonna be hard to top!
portillo's_chicago_dog+italian_beef (8)

Portillo’s Hot Dogs

portillo's_chicago_dog (7)
Now, Portillo’s definitely has a better dog — it’s nice and beefy, and only $3.59 (although it doesn’t come with fries.) The pickle is big and juicy, and almost overpowers the meat, while the bun is soft and slightly smushed.
portillo's_italian_beef (5)
I also got my beef dipped here, although they didn’t ask me if I wanted cheese or peppers, and it just came plain. (I guess there were a couple peppers hiding in there somewhere, but they were pretty well hidden.) They also use a thicker, tastier bun than Al’s, so it doesn’t seem as soggy. When it comes to the beef, it’s not as tender or as flavourful as Al’s — but it’s still a pretty tasty sandwich.

Final Verdict

Well, I guess you can say both these places live up to their names. Portillo’s had the better Chicago Dog…but when it comes to the best thing I ate, between the two places, I gotta go with the Italian Beef from Al’s.

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