As a girl from Chicago (or the suburbs, if you want to get technical), some homesickness has led me to feel as if there has been something lacking in Champaign-Urbana. I have my deep-dish pizza craving covered with Papa Del's, but UIUC is missing a Chicago-style hot dog joint.

Well, there is good news for those of you from the Chicago area—actually, make that everyone—Portillo's will be opening a location on Prospect Avenue in Champaign on May 23. Whether you're not familiar with the joint or anxiously anticipating the opening, here are five mouthwatering reasons to be excited for the Champaign Portillo's.

1. Chicago-Style Hot Dogs 

hot dog, lettuce, sandwich
Sara Mickow

Portillo's opened in 1963 as a hot dog stand and has expanded into over 40 locations in multiple states over the years. Their famous Chicago-style hot dogs are topped with mustard, relish, celery salt, onions, tomatoes, a kosher pickle and sport peppers. Don't forget the golden rule when biting into this dog: ketchup is not allowed.

The Chicago-style hot dog alone will be the reason why the Champaign Portillo's will be packed once it opens. Illini from the Chicago area will have a flavorful taste of home with this hot dog being around.

2. Italian Beef

The Italian beef sandwich is a classic in Chicago and is a specialty of Portillo's. In fact, it's ranked one of the best Italian beef sandwiches in the city. You can customize your sandwich by choosing between sweet peppers or hot peppers, and how much gravy you want. Biting into this piping hot sandwich that is stacked with meat will leave your plate messy and your stomach full.

Don't get me wrong, Champaign already has some delicious Italian beef—I'm talking about you, Niro's Gyros—but Portillo's critically acclaimed sandwich will be sure to draw in some big crowds. Just make sure to grab some extra napkins when eating this sandwich.

3. Chocolate Cake and Shake 

There is nothing better after a hearty, grease-filled meal than a tasty dessert to cleanse the pallet. Portillo's has the answer to your prayers with their famous decadent and gooey chocolate cake, which you can make with this recipe if you can't wait for the Champaign Portillo's to open.

To take it to the next level, Portillo's also offers their cake in the form of a milkshake. The Chocolate Cake Shake is a thick slice of cake blended with ice cream to form a fluffy, chocolate cake filled masterpiece. This shake is so famous it has been mentioned on Food Network.

4. Chopped Salad

Alright, you're probably thinking, "How does a salad fit in on the menu of a place that serves cake in a shake?" As strange as it sounds, Portillo's is home to one of my favorite salads. This salad includes bacon, Gorgonzola cheese and pasta, which are all diced and tossed in their tasty house dressing. To top it off, the salad is served with house bread or a mini-muffin.

This salad and many other items on the Portillo's menu are perfect for a family-style meal. With the opening of this new location, there's no doubt that UIUC is going to start seeing a lot of Portillo's catered events. What a time to be alive!

5. Cheese Fries

chicken, potato, french fries
Evelyn Tarnovsky

Last, but not least, the cheese fries are something we all should be looking forward to with this restaurant's opening. Portillo's fries are perfectly salty and crispy and are served with a container of gooey melted cheese. These addictive fries are a great compliment to any of Portillo's dishes and will leave you wanting more. 

It was nearly impossible to somehow choose only five items to showcase from Portillo's vast menu. Honorable mentions go out to their cheeseburger, baby back ribs and char-grilled Italian sausage.

Portillo's is going to be a great addition to the Champaign-Urbana community, and it's no coincidence that CEO Keith Kinsey is an Illini himself. This is definitely something to get excited for.