Portillo’s is a Chicago mainstay, so it was only natural that it was our very first stop on a trip to Chicago last weekend.
We ordered two Chicago classics, the Chicago style hot dog (poppy seed bun, sport pepper, yellow mustard, relish, pickle, etc), and the Italian beef sandwich (shaved beef with giardiniera).
The dog was pretty much perfect. I would have liked more sport peppers, but hey. No complaints otherwise.
This was my first time having a proper Chicago Italian beef sandwich, and I was blown away. The dip into Italian herb infused gravy is the perfect way to finish this sandwich, and the spicy giardiniera is the perfect way to get pickled flavors into it. I added some shredded mozzarella for good measure. This is different from a Philly cheesesteak for sure, but I like it much better. It’s more about the beef!
We also tried the chocolate cake shake and the frozen custard, both of which were great desserts.
This joint puts up some solid pub food. I came in with a group of food bloggers to help them promote their Stanley Cup game night specials (the joint is owned by an ex-NY Ranger). Anyway, here’s what we had:
These are breaded and served lollipop style. I liked them, despite generally having less of a preference for breaded wings.
Stacked high with tons of toppings. Really good.
Boneless Chicken Wings
For the vagina in your group who doesn’t want any bones. Still good though – and also breaded.
A little too salty for me, but I liked the texture and sauce.
I loved that this was on a hot dog potato bun. They said they usually serve it on different bread but ran out. I say stick with the hot dog bun. It was great. Low budget and tasty.
This was nice and basic too, but well executed. For $11 this is a great deal (fries were $3 extra, shoestring style, and very nicely cooked). Their “77 Sauce” is like a Big Mac sauce. Dig it.
The classic Pat’s / Geno’s rivalry has been done to death, so I’m not going to write a treatise here. I’m gonna tell you how it is plainly: Both are highly overrated, but they’re worth hitting at least once just to do it.
My wife and I tried one sandwich from each place, the same exact way: cheesesteak with wiz. No onions, no mushrooms, no other cheeses. Why? I wanted to test the meats out. $10 each.
Pat’s gives you more meat and more cheese on a superior bread.
However, that meat is riddled with chewy wads of fat. I’m a champion of rib eye fat, but this was no bueno. We spit pieces out several times throughout the process of eating our respective halves. Also, the quality of the meat seemed a bit shitty. You can just taste it. I think they also cook too much at once, because it had a steamed, rubbery texture as opposed to a nice griddled crisp.
Geno’s has the better ambiance, if such a thing can even be assessed.
Geno’s also had better meat quality, although that quality was still sub par on the whole. On the other hand, Geno’s didn’t give enough cheese on the sandwich. Lame.
So each had a benefit and each had a negative, but both were overrated. I think these places suffer from too much business. They make so much quantity so far ahead of time to deal with crowds, that they lose quality in the process.
In the quest for cheesesteaks, I suggest hitting Shorty’s or Wogies here in NYC. They’re better than these two joints by far. A buddy who grew up outside of Philly tells me that the better cheesesteaks are found in local pizza shops anyway down there, and that Shorty’s and 99 Miles to Philly are apparently pretty close to the real thing here in NYC.
Ando’s Community Manager reached out and offered me some credit on David Chang’s new food delivery service app in order to gain feedback about a few menu items. I’d tried a few things that my wife brought home, but that was a few months back and I’d only tried them after the food sat for a few hours in the fridge between lunch and dinner time.
The way Ando works is that between 11:00am and 2:00pm you can order up some great fried chicken and various sandwiches for delivery in midtown. But the trick is that you have to order early, because sometimes they’re completely sold out by 11:30!
I was working with a $25 credit. Me and a buddy at work split an order of fried chicken and a Philly cheese (which they call a “NYC Cheesesteak”). We ordered at 11:00am on the dot, to avoid any sold out items. The food arrived to our office, literally, in eight minutes. They threw in a free cookie from Milk Bar too, as you can see.
When we first read the description of the fried chicken box on the app, “thigh and leg,” we thought it wasn’t going to be enough food for us. And at $12 for two pieces of chicken it seemed a bit pricey. But the pieces of chicken were big and filling.
The battered skin is absolutely delicious on these babies. It’s got a little spice to it, but not too much. It’s super crispy and stays crisp even if it’s in the box for a while, or refrigerated for a few hours. The meat underneath is extremely tender and juicy. This is one of my favorite fried chicken boxes in the city, and it’s much better than the stuff Chang serves at Ma Peche, in my opinion.
The chicken also comes with coleslaw as well. This brightly colored slaw was nice and sweet, with just a touch of savory. It wasn’t too watery either, which was nice because I dislike watery slaw. While I’m generally not a huge coleslaw guy, this version was pretty good.
As for the cheesesteak, at $12 we both felt like it was a little expensive, especially considering that there were a few gristled bits of fat that I had to pull out of my mouth. The flavors, however, were great. The cheese is evenly melted throughout the sandwich, the bread isn’t greased up or destroyed from too much juice, and the onions are nicely cooked. It’s just a bit small and expensive, but then again this is David Chang’s food, so that is what justifies the price. Keep in mind, this is only $1 more than a Shorty’s cheesesteak, which is one of my favorite in the city.
Overall the food is very good; even the cookie was soft and delicious. Our food came to $24, and with tax and tip we were at about $30. We were full and satisfied for about $4 or $5 after the press review credit was applied. I definitely recommend this service. The chicken is pretty great, and has a unique flavor with a wonderful crisp.
Wogies is known around town as having some great Philly cheesesteaks. I had been to the one in the west village once before. When I was downtown to meet a friend at a bar, I noticed a new Wogies location down by Rector Street on Trinity. I gave it a shot on my way home.
I tried a chicken and regular Philly cheesesteak, both with wiz, American and onions.
Pretty tasty. Only down side is that the cheese was not evenly distributed throughout the meat. It was mostly packed into the back of the sandwich, where the top and bottom sandwich bread meet, at the crease.
This other one I tried from the west village location was a cheeseburger hero. Pretty good, though heavy on the lettuce:
Shorty’s is a Philly cheesesteak joint on 9th Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets. They’ve actually got three other locations, but this is their flagship spot. I’d been in here once before and had a pretty damn good chicken cheesesteak. But this time I ordered a regular cheesesteak with American AND wiz, because I’m an animal, and onions, of course.
That shit was so ooey and gooey that it would make Peter North drop his jaw in awe. I asked my buddy, who is familiar with genuine Philly cheesesteaks, if this compares to the famous Pat’s and Geno’s. His response was that this is pretty good, and that they do a very close job to the authentic style found in Philly.
We also tried regular and Italian flavored (parmesan and herbs) fries. Both were really good but if I had to choose a favorite I would say the Italian style was a little better. The cheese makes it pop.
Anyway, if beer is your thing, the place has a great happy hour special. Every bottle, can or draft is $4 until 7pm during the week. That’s pretty great, so get on it.
I’ve walked by this joint on many occasions. Today I finally had the time to go in and see what it’s all about.
The name comes from the daily specials offered: $1 burgers (sliders), $2 shots and $3 beers – ANY beer on tap, other than the ciders. Not fuckin’ bad!
The joint is set up like a college style sports bar. Lots of TVs throughout, with seating at the bar and along the opposite wall.
They even have some drinking games like the wheel of death pictured below, along with beer pong, and there is an outside drinking area in the back as well.
So I came with a coworker and we noticed outside that if you bring a friend you can get their daily lunch special in a two-for-one deal. The daily lunch special is three sliders, fries, and a beer for $7. Normally that will cost you $10 if you order the items separately, on their own. With the “bring a friend” special we got six sliders, two beers and two fries for $7. AWESOME!
The beers are probably only 10oz, but they don’t restrict you on the draft options, which is nice. I got a Hoegaarden and my buddy got a Rebel IPA.
The sliders are nice and tasty. They come topped with American cheese and grilled onions, nicely jammed between a mini potato bun. Deeeeelicious. I can easily put away a dozen without even blinking.
The fries needed salt. They were decent, but seasoned with a salt substitute sort of thing. Perhaps paprika and some other herbs. The portion size is a bit small if you were ordering separately at the full $4 price tag.
Since I’m a fat fuck, I also needed to try some other items. First was this Philly cheese steak. It comes with finely sliced steak, ooey-gooey cheese and onions on a hot dog style bun for $5. I ate the fuck out of this thing. It was way tastier than the sliders, for sure. But maybe you can get a better one at a larger size for just a few bucks more down at Shorty’s, nearby on 9th Avenue in the 40s.
Wednesday is double wing day. When you order wings, they double it for free. I recommend that Wednesday is the ONLY day to try the wings here, as they are small (which I actually like, but most people do not) and don’t come with many per order (four or five), at a price tag of $7. Since we came on a Wednesday, our order was $7 for nine or ten wings. They’re breaded and fried crisp before they are tossed in the Hell’s Kitchen wing sauce, which is a standard mild to medium spice level. If you get these on a non-Wednesday, you’ll probably feel like you got ripped off.
Overall this is a great place to grab some grub and suds, especially on a nice day, since the place has an open and airy feel. Go with a friend during lunch to get the most bang for your buck. That two-for-one special on the $7 lunch deal is amazing. Just add some more sliders to the order to get a real filling meal out of it.
1 2 3 BURGER SHOT BEER
738 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019
My buddy and I flew down like CEOs on a 30 minute flight from Long Island to check out a classic car auction that was going on at the convention center. I won’t bore you foodies with pics of the awesome cars. Instead I’ll get right to the good shit.
Had I known there was an Asian culinary battle going on down there, I would have registered to view/taste. Too bad I didn’t know until it was too late. This was right at the bottom of our elevator bank:
I haven’t been to a Morton’s in a long time but I remember them being really great. My memory served me well. We went to Morton’s on Friday after we checked in. The rib eye was nearly perfect, aside from some bits of inedible gristle. Evenly cooked, juicy, with that signature aged flavor. 9/10.
My buddy tried the peppercorn strip steak. It was great too – really nice flavor, though I would go without the sauce. 9/10.
As a beef eater, I got my typical gin martini, made with Beefeater:
On the side we had some bacon and onion mac & cheese, which was really good. Creamy, good smoke flavor.
We also did a wedge salad – pretty standard:
But the highlight of the meal was the “bacon steak” appetizer. It was soft and tender – don’t let the grill marks and charred looks deceive you in this image. It was thick, smokey, and delicious. We went back for more on Sunday, but they didn’t open until 5pm and we had a flight to catch.
The service here was excellent. Our waitress, Nicole, knew her steak well and made great suggestions to us, and the management was good enough to come over and check in on us to make sure everything was to our liking. The price was right too: at only about $100 each we thought we got a great deal for all that food.
White House Sub Shop
This place is awesome. We went on Sunday morning at about 11am. I went with a cheesesteak loaded with the works: hot peppers, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato. PACKED with flavor, not too salty or greasy, good quality bread. Just right. And for $8.66 you really can’t beat it. Check out all the pics:
Worst part of the trip: Noodle Bar at Caesar’s. We were excited to go the first time, especially since I saw pho on the menu. Too bad it sucked. It was bland, and the meat quality was low to poor at best. Also WAY too many noodles and not enough meat. Overpriced too, at $16 for a shitty bowl that is much better and costs only $6 in NYC.
On Saturday night we were starving since we skipped dinner and had $2 beers at Mountain Bar instead.
The only place open nearby at 1am, that we knew about anyway, was the fucking Noodle Bar. So we went back in. This time I ordered salt & pepper pork chops. They were pretty good, but I didn’t expect them to be deep fried and DRENCHED in table salt. WAY too salty. I only ate about half after doing my best to dust all the salt off.
Lucky for us, we were able to salvage the night before with a good Bloody Mary at Phillips the next morning.
And some gelato at the hotel lobby:
And when I got home, my wife had this waiting for me – a new custom cell phone case with one of my logos on it. Best wife ever.