First, Arlington won the World Series.
Now, Arlington has landed Tarrant County’s first location of Illinois-based Portillo’s.
The fast-food chain known for Chicago hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches opened for limited walk-in service quietly this week. There’s no word on a full opening date.
But a few diners arriving in mid-morning Wednesday found Portillo’s dining-room doors open at 4200 S. Cooper St. at West Pleasant Ridge Road. The restaurant actually faces west, backing up to Cooper Street across from The Parks at Arlington mall.
“It’s just incredible — if you’re from Chicago, this is like home,” said Benji Arslanovski, who owns Our Place Restaurants in Mansfield and Cleburne but took a break from his own cafe Wednesday to grab an Italian beef.
“For the longest time, Portillo’s was something you could get in Chicago but couldn’t get anywhere else,” he said. “Just imagine if you grew up on chicken-fried steak or biscuits and cream gravy and moved to Chicago and couldn’t get it.”
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The secret of Portillo’s Chicago dogs, he said, is the Vienna Beef frank: “It’s not processed, and it’s almost crisper.”
A systems check of Portillo’s all-beef Chicago hot dog, a plant-based Chicago dog and its famous Italian beef sandwich showed why the restaurant has become a cult craze and sometimes draws lines hours long.
The all-beef dog, a Portillo’s legacy for 60 years, was full of flavor and snap and topped generously with tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, pickle, mustard and relish.
The “garden dog” version is topped exactly the same and tasted almost the same. It’s made with a peas-based frank from Seattle-based Field Roast and has one-third less fat grams and calories.
That leaves more room for the stellar crinkle fries, malts or shakes and the outstanding strawberry shortcake or the Portillo’s favorite chocolate cake. Both might be the best desserts sold through a drive-thru window or late at night.
Portillo’s also offers chili dogs, Italian sausage sandwiches, burgers, fried chicken or fish sandwiches, a broiled chicken sandwich and salads.
A north Fort Worth location, 2491 North Tarrant Parkway, is expected to open by the end of 2023.
The first Portillo’s in Texas opened in January 2023 to long lines at 5752 Grandscape Blvd., The Colony.
Portillo’s eventually will serve lunch, dinner and until 11 p.m. weekends; portillos.com.