This popular Chicago restaurant is just as famous for its hot dogs as the across-the-street Rock n' Roll McDonald's is for its Big Macs. Sharing a space with Barnelli's Pasta Bowl, Portillo's food comes out fast and filling, adding burgers, chicken sandwiches, Italian beef and fries to its signature dogs, which are served with mustard, relish, onions, red tomato, pickle and peppers for around $2.
Just because it's known for the meaty stuff doesn't mean it doesn't have healthy options; salads are available, including a strawberry spinach salad version that you can top with chicken. But light desserts are no fun, and Portillo's knows that. Trade in your run-of-the-mill chocolate shake for a frosty treat made from chocolate ice cream with big chunks of chocolate cake mixed in.
Though the brick exterior doesn't scream "barn," inside there are barrels, sacks of "feed," picnic-like checkered tablecloths and barn doors painted above the register. Mix that with 1940s-era touches like an old Coca-cola ad, an old car suspended from the ceiling and jazzy piano bar music. Two floors provide plenty of seating for when the fast food cravings roll in...and should you need to sate it quickly, a drive-through options lets you take it to-go in a snap.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Stephanie Sims