People always ask me, “What’s the one thing you miss most while being away at school?” and my immediate answer is always Portillo's. For all you non-Chicagoan’s out there, Portillo’s is the epitome of classic American food (aka anything fried and delicious). With 33 locations in the Chicago-land area, this is without a doubt a must-try destination. 

Here is the simple guide to some of the most popular items on Portillo’s menu. The next time you’re in the city, hit this place up — I promise you won’t regret it.

1. Italian Beef

Sara Mickow

This monster of a sandwich is known as “Chicago’s #1 Beef” and is about the size of an average man’s head, but there is absolutely no shame in downing the entire thing. I recommend adding some wicked spicy hot peppers or melted Mozzarella cheese, because we all know everything is better with cheese.

You can even get this bad boy shipped directly to your house for that next big college game day party you’re throwing.

2. Hotdog with EVERYTHING

Sara Mickow

“Everything” includes: mustard, relish, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun.

And here’s a tip — never, and I mean NEVER, ask for ketchup on your hot dog. You will be thrown out of the building straight into rush hour traffic. Okay, I may be exaggerating a little… But seriously, you will never go back to topping your dog with straight up ketchup after sinking your teeth into this Chicago classic.

3. French Fries WITH Cheese

Sara Mickow

Hands down these are some of Chicago’s BEST French fries you will have ever had the pleasure of consuming. Order the largest size possible. Don’t make the fatal mistake of ordering the small because you’ll regret it for the remainder of your day, week, month, and maybe even life. These things are that legit, people.

4. Chopped Salad

Sara Mickow

I know what you’re all thinking — wtf is a salad doing on this must-have list, but hear me out. This “salad” is nowhere near the lettuce and veggie mixture you force feed yourself when you want to live that healthy life.

The Portillo’s chopped salad is loaded with grilled chicken, Ditalini pasta, tomato, Gorgonzola cheese, green onion, and bacon of all things. It is then slathered in their special House dressing that blows ranch out of the water.

#SpoonTip: Ask for extra bacon. Just do it. 

5. Chocolate Cake Shake

Sara Mickow

What could be better than a solid 3 lb. slice of chocolate fudge cake smothered in even chocolatier fudge frosting? Blending that hunk of chocolate goodness with creamy vanilla ice cream and calling it a shake, that’s what.

You can even attempt to make this decadent Chicago delicacy at home with this crazy good copycat recipe for all you chocoholics out there.

If you've never been to Portillo's, the time for you to go is now. Seriously, get up, get in your car or however you have to get there, and go. Trust me, it's amazing.