I grew up in Nathan’s country, a mere 20-minute drive from the Coney Island original. I’ve always been a firm believer in Gulden’s mustard and hot, toothsome sauerkraut., and that’s it. I never understood the appeal of the Chicago-style dog—seriously, who sees a hot dog and thinks, “this could use some salad on it”?—and the versions I taste-tested from afar confirmed my suspicions that Chicago dogs were at best overrated and at worst an abomination.
And then, I finally visited Chicago, and I went to Portillo’s. Sweet holy mother of mackerel. I am a changed woman who has seen the light! I am angry that such a seemingly simple hot dog cannot be replicated by anyone or any place on the East Coast, and I am angry that I have gone most of my life without Portillo’s. As if sensing that there are others out there like me, Portillo’s is running a contest to bring their food truck, The Beef Bus, to rabid fans around the U.S.A. I could have had The Beef Bus parked in front of my house! I could have gone to sleep every night with the scent of sport peppers wafting through my bedroom window!
The Beef Bus is currently visiting the Florida State Fair and has a full calendar until May. Where it goes after that is completely up to the public, as long as it’s in the lower 48 states (sucks to be you, Hawaii!). You can vote for your town once a day on the Portillo’s website, where the current leader is... a town that’s less than a two-hour drive from Chicago. C’mon, Streator, Illinois. There are other cities that need this more than you.