You need go no farther than Portillo’s, that gastronomic icon best known for hot dogs and Italian beef. Surprised? We were too. For all its Chicago fame, Portillo’s doesn’t usually make the list of notable barbecue spots. The menu has grown quite a bit in its 53 year history, and we were invited in to explore this underappreciated offering.
The all pork ribs are smoked in Portillo’s central kitchen in Aurora, IL before they are delivered to select Portillo’s locations in the Chicagoland area. Upon order of a full or half slab, the ribs are put on the grill to add a perfect char, then finished off with a glaze of housemade BBQ sauce.
The result is a slab of ribs any pitmaster can be proud of. The pork is tender and juicy, and there’s no lack of it ― these ribs are stacked. The char is right on point ― it has that crispy, smoky element you want from a cookout.
The tangy-sweet Carolina style sauce is well-balanced and helps cut through the rich, meaty flavors. Add in classic sides like coleslaw, baked potato, and house bread, and you have a whole barbeque feast faster than it would take to light up your grill.
Through Labor Day, Portillo’s is hosting Monday Night Rib Night. If you order a full slab meal with a side and a drink, you’ll receive an extra half slab of ribs free. That’s a mighty amount of meat without messing around with charcoal and tongs. Grab a fistful of napkins and come with an appetite!