James Norton / Heavy Table
There has been a wave of publicity surrounding the expansion of the Chicago-based Portillo’s chain into great Minneapolis-St. Paul. The group has opened a restaurant in Woodbury with more coming down the pike, including spots in Maple Grove and (possibly) Apple Valley. The sky seems to be the limit for this Midwestern mini-empire, which sprang from now almost-mythical roots as a single charming little hotdog stand in Villa Park, Ill.
If you’re not a native Chicagoan, it’s easy to be nonplussed by the excitement over Portillo’s: “OH MY GOD CHICAGO DOGS!” Well, sure, but what about Uncle Franky’s and The Wienery? … “ITALIAN BEEF!” Uh, OK, but isn’t that just a Philly cheesesteak minus the … “CHOCOLATE CAKE MILKSHAKE!” I suppose that sounds fine? I’d certainly give it a try.