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

Phone: 951-653-1000

Website: http://www.portillos.com/locations/moreno-valley/

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.


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