By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jul 05, 2016 at 8:35 PM

The Italian beef has landed.

There are officially less than two weeks before Chicagoland’s fast-food staple opens its first location. The state’s first Portillo’s will open at 17685 W Bluemound Rd. on Tuesday, July 19.

The restaurant that specializes in Chicago-style fast casual fare, including Italian beef and loaded hotdogs, also serves up favorite items like crinkle cut French fries drizzled with cheese sauce and cake shakes, ice cream drinks comprised of vanilla ice cream blended with a slide of chocolate fudge cake.

Unlike many multi-location restaurants, no two Portillo’s are exactly the same. The Brookfield location, which will seat about 200 inside and an addition 45 on its patio, will have a rock 'n roll theme and sport 1950s-60s diner décor, including a jukebox. Interestingly, the look and feel of the restaurant pays homage to a local classic: Karter’s, a 24-hour diner that was a fixture on Bluemound Road from the mid 1950s through the late 1980s.

Portillo’s was birthed in 1963 when entrepreneur Dick Portillo opened a food trailer he called the The Dog House in Villa Park, Ill. Once the largest privately held restaurant company in the Midwest, Portillo’s is now the property of private equity firm Berkshire Partners.

And, since 2005, the Portillo’s brand has expanded beyond metropolitan Chicago to markets in California, Indiana and Arizona, boasting a total of 43 locations (Brookfield will be the 44th). In addition to the new Brookfield location, Portillo’s has also set its sights on locations in Greenfield and Madison, which are expected to open sometime before the end of 2017.

Beginning July 19, Portillo’s will be open daily at 10:30 a.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.