Chicago, IL

I tried Portillo's all-new vegan hot dog, the Garden Dog

Jennifer Geer

And here's what I thought.

(CHICAGO) Vegans with a craving for a Chicago-style hot dog can rejoice. Portillo's has teamed up with Field Roast to offer a vegan hot dog made with 100% plant-based protein and served in the traditional Chicago-style way.

The Portillo's Garden Dog is a 100% plant-based protein smoked, char-grilled, and "dragged through the garden" (served with Chicago-style toppings.)

Portillo's already had a veggie dog on its menu, but it was only the Chicago dog toppings added to a bun. There was no hot dog or protein of any kind.

Chicagoans eat a lot of hot dogs.

Chicago is one of the top 10 hot dog-consuming cities in the country. However, the vegan lifestyle is growing ever more popular, while an increasing number of Americans are trying to cut back their meat consumption. This makes now the perfect time for Portillo's to jump into the plant-based protein market.

Portillo's Garden Dog

“We are incredibly proud to partner with Portillo’s to bring the flavor of Field Roast to this iconic chain rooted in Chicago hot dog history,” said Adam Grogan, President of Greenleaf Foods, SPC, in a press release. “Americans eat billions of hot dogs every year, and now they have a delicious plant-based option to satisfy this classic craving.”

What's in the hot dog?

The Garden Dog contains pea protein, brown rice protein, beet powder, faba bean protein, and other ingredients, which you can see on the website. It's served on a traditional poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, relish, onion, tomatoes, sport peppers, and pickles.

What did I think?

When I opened up the wrapping to my Garden Dog, I could see that it looked like a meat hot dog. It was the right color and even had char marks from the grill.

It was served on the traditional poppy seed bun and smeared with all of the Chicago-style fixings required for a traditional Chicago hot dog.
Portillo's GardendogPhoto by author

I took a bite with a bit of everything, and the taste was delicious. It had a meaty flavor combined with the mustard and other toppings that made me forget I was eating a plant-based protein.

I did sample a small bite of the hot dog on its own, and it was then that I could tell, I wasn't eating a meat hot dog. The taste was good, but the texture is where the difference lies. As close as this plant-based dog is to the real thing, it could not replicate that meaty snap you get from the real deal.

Portillo's understands this and says on their website, "The Garden Dog shares similarities to the traditional hot dog, but will not taste exactly the same and will not have the classic snap when you take a bite."

If you're looking for a plant-based option for a Chicago-style hot dog, give Portillo's a try. It has all of the meaty flavors and char-grilled savoriness to satisfy your hot dog cravings.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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