Given a choice between Portillo’s and Al’s, I’d say it’s Al’s, hands down, especially if you go to the Taylor Street location. For starters, you’ll get fresh cut fries at Al’s. Portillo’s serves a frozen institutional brand.
Second, right across the street from Al’s on Taylor Street is Mario’s Italian Ice stand. Skip the Coke at Al’s. Go to Mario’s for an ice cold slushy Italian Ice. One person in your party stands in line at Al’s for the sandwiches and fries, the other person stands in line at Mario’s for the ices. If you time it out right, you’ll both be meeting back at the trunk of your car at the same time. Al’s has an indoor eating area, standing at a counter, but don’t bring Mario’s Ice into Al’s; bad form. Instead opt for one for the outdoor tables, or as stated before, you can dine “ala trunk”.
In June you should be able to get one of Mario’s fresh fruit flavored ices. I’m partial to cantaloupe, but there’s also watermelon and tutti frutti, available on a regular basis. Less certain, but totally worth it if it’s available, is the fresh peach. They also have about a dozen and a half syrup based flavors always available. Or you could always just get classic lemon.
Oh yeah, the other reason I like Al’s over Portillo’s, I just think Al’s serves a better beef sandwich.
That’s my pitch for Al’s. Can anybody match that for Portillo’s?