One of the best parts about being in the Orlando area is the access to some of the best theme parks and experiences on the East Coast. As you might imagine, having so many great vacation options and things to do really drives the amount of tourism to the area. It does not matter if you are here with family, friends, solo or for work, there is a vacation destination for nearly everyone right here in Orlando. Because there is an abundance of travelers coming to experience Orlando, there are a lot of culinary options to choose from. We have all experienced that, what should we eat, conundrum at some point, and possibly are experiencing again right now.
Even though it can be difficult to narrow down choices, one of the things we really look forward to is dining out when we are in a new area. Orlando has the full range of opportunities from fine dining to fast casual, and even some celebrity chef driven places. Depending on your timeline and what you actually feel like eating will usually determine where you end up. From experience, we can say there are two schools of thought commonly applied to travel dining, the first is trying something new that you may not be find close to home. This requires some research on reviews and potentially some recommendations from folks you trust. The second is the old faithful, that basically is looking for something you are comfortable with already, available both at home and your travel destination. We would say that chain restaurants would fall into this category most of the time. Recently we found a great locally owned and operated Italian restaurant and also a great New York Style Deli. On a trip over to the Vineland Pointe Shopping Mall off of I-4, we found some great deals and more importantly, got hungry. Thankfully there are a lot of options available, but we took an opportunity to try a popular spot that is new to Orlando.
On June 18th, 2021 Portillo's Hot Dogs opened its first Orlando location to great fanfare, in fact fans actually lined up at 9pm the night before! If you are unfamiliar with Portillo's, it is a 1950's themed space, decked out with advertisements and great fast casual food. Portillo's was founded by Dick Portillo and his love for Chicago style street food with $1,100 bucks and a single hot dog stand; today they have 60+ locations across several states. While everything points towards Chicago style Hot Dogs, their menu has so much more to offer, including their Italian Beef featured below. They also provide catering and prepare at home options.
Details to know:
- Portillo's first Orlando location is located at 7715 Palm Pkwy Orlando, Florida 32836
- Open 10:30am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Please verify before visiting as times are subject to change
- If there is no location near you, there is still hope which may arrive near you as a food truck known as the Beef Bus.
- There is a brand new Portillo's announced on Portillo's facebook in Kissimmee, Florida!
Our visit to the Orlando Portillo's:
We pulled into a large parking lot, found a dual drive thru and plenty of parking. We visited mid-week in the early afternoon and decided to dine in to get the full experience. Immediately you can see just how large the inside of the restaurant actually is and the 1950's theme is done well.
We found there is a sign at the entrance explaining to proceed to the rear left of the restaurant to place your order. When it is busier, they have room for two lines to be opened; choose the one you want. We had done some research beforehand and knew almost everything we wanted. Walking past other tables and seeing the food gave us a different perspective. After ordering and paying, you are given a number and you move down to the left where a monitor will show where your order is in the process. This is conveniently located next to the cake and beer area; more on that in a moment!
The food is done to order, and we could see a large amount of staff fulfilling orders. The food was hot, fresh and accurate. We particularly loved the Italian Beef and Sausage Combo and the Crinkle Cut Fries! If you are looking to cut back on carbs, they also have bowls. The Chicago bowl or the Italiano bowl look especially appetizing! If you are looking for leaner options, try the broiled chicken sandwich shown below.
It is worth mentioning, this Portillo's has draft beers and oversized sodas available to quench any thirst. If you have saved some room, the cakes here are amazing. Recently, Portillo's has teamed up with No Kid Hungry and Red Cross to create Heart Shaped Cakes from Valentine's Day to Mother's Day. To date, Portillo's has raised over one million dollars in charity donations with over 7,000 different fundraisers!
The verdict - Portillo's is in a good location with great food. They have great flavors done with simplicity and at an affordable price. We highly recommend trying this Chicago institution right here in Orlando; and their next location opening in Kissimmee.