Openings and Closings

Portillo's Sets Grand Opening Date for The Colony Location

A hot dog, Italian beef and French fries from Portillo's Beef Bus in The Colony.
A hot dog, Italian beef and French fries from Portillo's Beef Bus in The Colony. Hank Vaughn
Congratulations to all Chicago transplants in North Texas. Your hot dog dream day is just about to arrive. Portillo's has set an official grand opening date for its first Texas location, in The Colony. The doors will swing open Jan. 18 at 10:30 a.m. Portillo's now has 70 stores across several states.

Technically the spot has already opened. People have been lining up since Tuesday. But, we're more grand opening people. We like the jazz hands elements, not the pre-show.

Portillo's started out in Villa Park, Illinois, in 1963. Since then, it has become famous for its Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and chocolate cake shakes. The Italian beef is slow-roasted for four hours, then thinly sliced and served on French bread and dunked in hot gravy.

Food writer and Chicago native Hank Vaughn spent a long summer day trying to track down Portillo's food truck last summer. It was hot. He didn't have sunblock. Or water. By the time he found the truck, it was just about out of food. However, after a subsequent visit to another Portillo's food truck event, Vaughn wrote, "This really was perhaps the best beef we’ve had in DFW."

We're anxious to see how this location does long-term, as hot dog spots have never done well in Dallas. We're more of a corn dog town, aside from Sonic. Hoffman's Hots had a brief appearance in Trinity Groves. Luscher's Red Hots was a local restaurant by chef Brian Luscher that closed in 2016 after a two-year run (although Luscher's Post Oak Red Hots can still be found on many menus around town). And the Tulsa "legend" Coney Island Hot Dogs had a very brief stint in Arlington, near UTA.

But Portillo's is more than just hot dogs. You can get beef and sausage sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, burgers and salads. And cake shakes.

Portillo's menu has the quintessential Chicago dog, "dragged through the garden," topped with mustard, relish, celery salt, fresh chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, pickles and sport peppers on a poppy seed bun.

There's also a char-grilled Maxwell Street Polish sausage, named after a street corner where founder Dick Portillo grew up. He loved the smell of those grilled onions and Polish sausages cooking on the street carts. (I get that. I was at a Cubs game once and hadn't eaten all day — not by choice. I walked by one of those carts on the concourse and refused to walk another step until I got whatever it was they were making.)

The ones at Portillo's are made with a grilled Makowski sausage and topped with grilled onions and lots of yellow mustard.

Portillo's is located at 4560 Destination Drive in The Colony, on the south side of Highway 121, just east of Lava Cantina. Hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday. 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.

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