Home » Portillo’s about to open first Michigan location in Sterling Heights

Portillo’s about to open first Michigan location in Sterling Heights

Chicago-style hot dogs with spicy sport peppers and a sprinkling of celery salt. Italian beef sandwiches served with extra gravy or dipped in gravy. A slice of famous chocolate cake that’s made daily at the restaurant. 

Portillo’s on Tuesday opens its much-anticipated Michigan location on the busy Hall Road/M-59 area in what’s dubbed Sterling Heights Golden Corridor. 

It’s the Chicago-based chain’s first venture into the Michigan market. The restaurant is located on the perimeter of Lakeside Mall. Doors open at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.  

A combination of things led the chain to open in Sterling Heights.

“Traffic on this road is phenomenal, it’s very high,” Michael Portillo, vice president of restaurant support said. “The residents, offices and businesses and just a combination of those things that made it right for us. It worked perfectly in our plan. “

The outside of Portillo's on March 8, 2021, in Sterling Heights. It was location's first day being open to the public. Portillo's is most well-known for their Chicago-style hot dogs, but offer's a wide assortment of food.

Portillo’s is known for its Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. The hot dogs are served on steamed poppy seed buns and topped with mustard, bright green relish, onions, tomato slices, a pickle spear, two sport peppers, and a sprinkling of celery salt. Regular hot dogs are $3.29 each or $3.89 for the jumbo.

The Italian beef sandwich ($6.49) features thinly sliced beef served on a French roll. You can order the beef dry with very little gravy, extra gravy (the Portillo’s way) or dipped in gravy. It’s a hearty serving of beef and you can order it topped with sweet or hot peppers. The menu also includes a selection of salads, burgers, sides of French fries and onion rings. 

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Briana Ketchum bags slices of chocolate cake for each order for Portillo's first day on March 8, 2021, in Sterling Heights. It was the location's first day being open to the public. Portillo's is most well-known for their Chicago-style hot dogs, but offer's a wide assortment of food.

You can top everything off with a slice of chocolate cake. The cake recipe is from Gina Portillo (Michael’s wife), and more than 2 million slices are sold annually. 

The Sterling Heights location is the first Portillo’s to have a garage-style theme, a nod to the area’s rich automotive history, including a fully restored 1931 Model T Ford Wrecker that hangs from the ceiling. It also has nods to Detroit’s beloved Motown and music icons including the Supremes and Four Tops.

Pictures of old gas stations, hubcaps, and license plates dot the walls. 

The nearly 8,000-square-foot restaurant opens with 50{431c92db2ef93c421a350be785d244bd702e2c73a34f2b6f60cd8fd62b61507d} capacity per the state’s current COVID-19 restriction guidelines. It has been in the works for nearly a year. The interior is brick, with an open ceiling, exposed ventilation, and plenty of windows. There also is a drive-thru.

Portillo's original hotdog on March 8, 2021, in Sterling Heights. It was the location's first day being open to the public. Portillo's is most well-known for their Chicago-style hot dogs, but offer's a wide assortment of food.

While Sterling Heights is the chain’s first in Michigan, plans are for more locations. 

“We will open multiple units over the next few years,” Portillo said. “But it’s not known yet where and when we are going to go.” 

Opening during the pandemic and reduced capacity is not worrisome, though Portillo said they’ve taken the pandemic very seriously. All along, the initial plan was to open indoor dining in Sterling Heights when restaurants could have 50{431c92db2ef93c421a350be785d244bd702e2c73a34f2b6f60cd8fd62b61507d} capacity.