Category No Nonsense Reviews

Portillo’s

Hot Dogs – Beef Burgers – Salads

Portillo’s has been a firm family favorite since we re-located here many years back. It is set up to be the quintessential Chicago diner. Until recently we had to travel to Brandon to sample the menu which made it a once in a blue moon kinda place and so not worthy of reviewing. However a new store has opened on 7715 Palm Parkway, Orlando FL 32836 and another is due to open in the heart of the tourist district on the 192..so we thought it was time to let you all know what we think!

Portillo’s is known for Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, chopped salad, cheese fries, homemade chocolate cake, and chocolate cake shake. The Italian beef is slow-roasted for four hours, thinly sliced, and served on freshly baked French bread. Then, it’s dipped in hot gravy made with homemade blend of seasonings. If you like a soggy sandwich then you will love this – me, I’m not a fan to be honest.

The diners are clean and have a sense of theatre about them. It’s a walk up self serve style counter but the staff are in ‘character’ and you can see the order cooks hard at work. Once you have your order placed, wait in line and your order will get yelled out by one of the staff like a bingo caller! Seating is first come first served so if you have a large party find your seating before you queue to place an order otherwise you might be walking around holding your food!

Whilst I’m not a fan of the soggy sandwich option I can say that the chocolate cake is super moist (one piece isn’t enough though) and the chocolate cake milkshake (yes you read it correctly) is awesome according to my kids.

The burger though…. their charbroiled double burger is my top pick. I’ve long been a fan of Five Guys burgers and it’s been my No1 favorite for years. Recently though, the more I’ve tried, the Portillo’s burger the better it gets and I can now declare it my No1 favorite burger in Florida! It’s not over complicated – just a soft bun with simple lettuce, onion and tomato added. That’s all that’s needed because the burgers themselves are the star. They are flame grilled and super tasty. Whilst I still love a Five Guys burger this just goes to show you don’t need lots of toppings and sauces to have a winner. Five Guys fries are nothing short of superb though and Portillo’s, whilst crinkle cut, can’t compete.

Editors Note : Five Guys is opening a new restaurant on I27, just a short distance from Portillo’s on the 192, so my drive home is going to become calorific!!

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Sickies Garage, Burgers & Brews

7640 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34747

Billed as a North Dakota franchise Sickies has been spreading its wings and Florida finally got its own store back in 2021. Boasting 50 brews and 50 burgers on the menu we finally decided it was time to give it a try.

At the back of my mind I was thinking its going to be something like Rock n Brews or Fords Garage and from the outside it is. It’s the usual over the top American themed style restaurant. Old car memorabilia adorns the walls and everything is tool / car / garage themed. Seating is a mix of booths and tables with an obligatory bar area as well. There is some limited outside seating but its location alongside the 192 doesn’t offer the most scenic outlook.

First off you aren’t spoilt for choice it seems when it comes to burgers. However if you want a little variety you might be out of luck. Yes you might get chicken wings on the starter menu and maybe a cob salad for an entree but burgers is what this place does and little else. If you have fussy eaters in your party try elsewhere.

I ordered a burger and fries and on the menu it sounded pleasant enough. Fries come with optional seasoning – but you do have to ask for this (they won’t prompt you). Now don’t get me wrong the burger was well cooked and it tasted ok BUT it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a simple thrown together patty with a cheese slice and some ‘special’ sauce and a strip of bacon. It wasn’t a towering gut busing burger like you would get from Teak Grill! The fries were disappointing as well – think Steak and Shake $2 fries and you won’t be far off.

Now all this I could stomach if it were Burger King prices BUT this was a $17 burger! Served on a tray, picnic style, for this much money there should have been more effort in the presentation and (strangely for America) more food! For a family of 4 budget well over $100 for a burger and a drink each and that’s before any starters or desserts. This is awful value for money for a restaurant in a mediocre location.

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