How about a hot bowl of beef for lunch?

Dennis Lee
·3 min read
portillo's beef bowls
portillo's beef bowls

Considering it’s sort of unofficially Italian beef week here at The Takeout, we couldn’t help but notice that Chicago-based chain Portillo’s (which now spans eight states) has been advertising “Beef Bowls,” a two-word delight that I have been saying all day. I’ve been seeing ads on Facebook for this thing for months now, but the other day, Portillo’s unleashed a product shot on Twitter that got people both hot and bothered.

“Cutting out carbs in the New Year?” the post read. “No problem. Try one of our Beef Bowls, featuring our classic Italian beef, but without the bread. You can add peppers and cheese for an additional cost.” There were lots of fun responses and retweets, but my favorite easily has to be this one:

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This magical Beef Bowl seems to be aimed at people on ketogenic diets or are otherwise avoiding carbs, as the bowl has everything but the bread. Without paying extra for the add-on ingredients, you just get a standard plain bowl of Italian beef sitting in jus. Or you can get a combo version, which is an Italian beef bowl with Italian sausage added. Protein packed!

My friend Louisa Chu wrote a mini-review of the bowl at the Chicago Tribune. Her bowl looked pretty damn hefty; in my mind I thought that without the bread, they’d be a little skinny on the beef, but no, this thing is a Big Boy. Just a straight-up giant mound of thinly sliced beef sitting in a glorious pond of hot jus with a broken-up piece of sausage—you know, as your vegetable. Shredded melted cheese is on one side, and maybe it’s because I haven’t had breakfast yet, but this thing looks okay.

Chu writes, “It’s pretty good, but disproportionate with a huge mound of beef and a stubby bit of sausage, plus way too salty without the bread... Next time, I might even add double mozzarella and giardiniera, inspired by Korean drinking foods that load on cheese and heat.” Louisa’s really onto something.

There’s a Korean dish, a stew called yukgaejang, that has shredded beef in a spicy broth with vegetables. If Chu’s idea is to take an Italian beef in a Korean direction, who’s to stop me from putting yukgaejang on...a sandwich? I’ll call it a Korean beef sandwich. You’re looking at someone who’s about to become filthy rich. I hope.