Portillo’s brings a a taste of Chicago to Southern California with its Italian beef and sausage; burgers; hot dogs; and salads.
Portillo’s has been a staple around Chicago since 1963. I know. I grew up there, and every time I return to see family, I do my best to squeeze in a visit to Portillo’s for one of their Italian beef sandwiches. The beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender, well-seasoned, and juicy. Throw on some mozzarella cheese and a few grilled sweet or hot peppers and you’ve got a party in your mouth. (At least I think so.)
Their menu also includes Chicago-style hot dogs, burgers, chicken, fish, and salads. I’ve had their Italian sausage sandwiches once or twice—quite good with a little zing to them—but I keep returning for the Italian beef.
It’s a very informal, fun restaurant. The decor quite an interesting step back in time, with items from the ’20s and 30’s carrying the theme.
While driving 94 miles (one-way) for a sandwich may seem a tad extreme (idiotic), it beats shelling out $400+ for a round trip airfare back to Chicago. (I’m sure there may be some really good Italian beef right here in San Diego—let me know in the comments—but going to Portillo’s is a mini trip home for me.)
So if you’re passing by Moreno Valley—or the other location in Buena Park—stop for lunch or dinner and explore Portillo’s.
What You Need To Know
Location: 12840 Day Street, Moreno Valley, CA 92553
10:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Monday–Thursday
10:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday
10:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Sunday
Cost: Menu items ranged from $3–$8
Tips: Even for dine-in customers, your sandwich is wrapped in paper and placed in a bag. There are no plates. Just flatten the bag as your place mat, unwrap the sandwich, and dig in. (Have plenty of napkins at the ready for the juices running out of the beef.) There is drive-thru service if you don’t have the time to enjoy the inside of the restaurant.
Click to see full-sized photos.