Iconic Chicago Restaurant Portillo’s Selects First City in Texas for D-FW Expansion

Texas’ first Portillo’s restaurant is set to open in late 2022 at The Colony in Warren Buffett’s Grandscape development next to the Nebraska Furniture Mart on State Highway 121.

Portillo CEO Michael Osanloo confirmed the location of The Dallas Morning News. He is aware that the famous Chicago chain has many fans who were curious about the expansion after it was mysteriously announced in October 2021 that the Chicago chain would open “in a town near Frisco next year”. . The Colony is Frisco’s neighbor to the south.

Portillo’s in The Colony will be the first in Texas, though Osanloo says the company plans to focus on significant expansion in the Lone Star State. He hopes to have 18 to 20 restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth in five years.

“It’s not a hot dog”

While Portillo sells Chicago-style hot dogs, Osanloo says drive-thru and quick service are more than that.

While Portillo's hot dogs are iconic - and Portillo's was launched in 1963 as a hot dog...
While Portillo’s hot dogs are iconic — and Portillo’s was launched in 1963 as a hot dog stand — its CEO today says Italian beef sandwiches are more their “thing.”

“It’s not a hot dog restaurant,” he says. “It’s an Italian beef place. If people come to Portillo’s and they eat one thing, I would tell them to have a beef sandwich. It will blow your mind.

Their Italian beef is slowly roasted in a spiral oven, then finely shaved and warmed in a juice bath. “It’s an art to make this sandwich,” says Osanloo, the former CEO of PF Chang’s.

Each Italian beef sandwich is served on French bread, then dipped in the jus au jus – which they call the sauce.

“It’s a hot mess. Dripping, and everywhere,” he says.

The second best thing on the menu, if you ask the CEO, is Portillo’s wavy fries. They are cooked in beef tallow.

Hot dogs are Osanloo’s third favorite dish. And they make them different from what we do in Texas: a Chicago-style hot dog comes with onions, pickle relish, tomatoes, mustard (“and we don’t care about people putting ketchup on it “, says the CEO), a wedge of dill pickle (“it must be the whole corner”), celery salt and two sports peppers. The dog is served on a poppy seed bun.

And like the Italian beef sandwich, the hot dog is also a messy two-handed affair.

Osanloo grew up in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. After getting his driver’s license, he says the first place he drove was at Portillo’s. And what was he eating at the time? Of them beef sandwiches with hot peppers and a large fries.

For around $10, customers can get a burger, fries, and a soda at Portillo.  The burger is...
For around $10, customers can get a burger, fries, and a soda at Portillo. The burger is another popular menu item, the CEO says.

How Texas was already No. 1

Osanloo took Portillo audiences in October 2021, and he said at the time that it was “a first step on a journey,” even though the restaurant already came with 59 years of Chicago history.

Today, Portillo’s has 70 restaurants in nine states. None of these states are close to Texas.

Portillo's chocolate shake is made with half a slice of chocolate cake and ice cream.
Portillo’s chocolate shake is made with half a slice of chocolate cake and ice cream.(Studio Capture Station 1)

And yet, Texas is the No. 1 business state for the shop and ship programthat ships bulk Italian beef sandwich ingredients and Chicago-style hot dog ingredients nationwide.

Osanloo says the Grandscape development has a bigger Texas flair. (And it is: it’s the largest restaurant village in North Texas.) Osanloo loves the mix of local and non-local restaurants alongside mega stores like Scheel’s and Nebraska Furniture Mart.

Osanloo is also aware of the Facebook group of 1,200 people begging Portillo to come to D-FW. He says the iconic Italian beef chain is poised to join a competitive North Texas market, where Gordon Ramsay has just moved its North American restaurant headquarters to Irving, and restaurant chains like TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut and Chili’s settle here.

But can he make hot dogs work in Texas, after Luscher’s Red Hots, Jerry’s Wood-Fired Dogs and Wild About Harry’s didn’t make it here?

“If you don’t do a good job in Texas, Texas will shut you down like this,” Osanloo said, snapping her fingers.

“I think we are up to this challenge.”

Plus, as he says: it’s not just a hot dog restaurant.

Portillo’s will be at 4560 Destination Dr., The Colony. They haven’t started yet, but they expect construction to be complete and the restaurant to open in the fourth quarter of 2022.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

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