Discover | Oak Brook

June 2019 View more


The founder of local legend Portillo’s Hot Dogs and his wife, Sharon, have lived in Oak Brook for the past 20 years. “Oak Brook, it’s close to everything—the expressway, shopping is great,” he says. “You have restaurants, you have movies, you have retail.”

Along 22nd Street in the neighboring communities of Oakbrook Terrace and Oak Brook, you could find just about any store, hotel, or restaurant you could desire. Yet, “if you look along 31st Street, it’s very green,” Portillo says. The balance of amenities and natural landscape—and proximity to the Portillo’s corporate office on Spring Road—is what drew the Portillos to build their English manor–style home on a three-acre lot 16 years ago.

Just north of Oak Brook is Villa Park, where Portillo opened his first hot dog stand off North Avenue with a $1,100 investment that he and Sharon were saving for a down payment on a house. Though Portillo’s Hot Dogs was sold to Berkshire Partners in 2014, Portillo remains involved as a consultant to the company and also a landlord of 23 of its properties. His focus these days is running R&S Growth Management, his real estate investment company that owns 48 different properties in 18 states, from Prairie Market shopping center in Oswego to industrial warehouses in Indianapolis.

In his spare time, Portillo enjoys reading, traveling, fishing, boating, and collecting artifacts and antiques. He displays many of his treasured finds at his Oakbrook Terrace office, including a gold tooth that he hopes belongs to Isoroku Yamamoto, an admiral in the Japanese Imperial Marines during World War II.

Big Biz
A number of notable companies have been headquartered in Oak Brook over the years, including Ace Hardware, Blistex, and Lions Clubs International.

Green Scene
Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve (3609 Spring Road) features walking paths and a nature education center.

Right Round
Graue Mill & Museum (3800 York Road) preserves the area’s only still-operating waterwheel gristmill, which dates back to 1852.

Photos by Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune and Courtesy Shake Shack


Gibson’s Bar & Steakhouse
Portillo is an investor in this elegant steakhouse, and though he enjoys the W.R.’s Chicago Cut—a bone-in ribeye—he typically prefers to eat seafood. In a bid to persuade owner Steve Lombardo to add Chilean sea bass to the menu, Portillo took him to try his favorite preparation at a restaurant in Naples, Florida, where he regularly vacations. Lombardo was convinced and now, “it’s the No. 1 fish seller at [this location of] Gibson’s,” Portillo says. The spacious patio, with its jade-colored umbrellas and rock wall with waterfalls, is his favorite place to sit.
2105 Spring Road, 630.954.0000

This Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises steak and seafood house with a modern supper club vibe opened in Oakbrook Center in 1998. The macadamia nut-crusted halibut is Portillo’s go-to order. Other signature dishes include roasted prime rib and horseradish-crusted, bacon-wrapped filet mignon. (Full disclosure: Portillo is an investor in three LEYE restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area.)
232 Oakbrook Center, 630.586.9000

Neiman Marcus
“Everyone is shopping online now,” says Portillo; however, he prefers the personal service of shopping for clothing in-person at this classic department store, in operation at Oakbrook Center since 1982. For luxury goods, you can’t do much better: Browse designer clothing and accessories for men and women, high-end cosmetics and furs, and visit the precious jewels salon for the blingiest of baubles.
6 Oakbrook Center, 630.572.1500

Portillo also likes to shop for clothes in the spacious ground-floor men’s department here. In addition to popular designer brands, Nordstrom also stocks a handful of house labels, including 1901, Nordstrom Men’s Shop, and the Rail for men; plus Halogen, Caslon and Zella for women.
10 Oakbrook Center, 630.571.2121

One Salon & Spa
Want to brush shoulders with Chicago’s hot dog king? Stake out his salon, located just steps from the Portillo’s corporate offices. Services range from haircuts and facials to indulgent mineral salt body polishes and lava stone massages.
2000 Spring Road, Ste. 100, 630.954.1900

Shake Shack Oak Brook opened in late 2018.


One of Oak Brook’s main attractions is Oakbrook Center, an outdoor mall with plentiful shops centered around a splashing fountain and the Lawn, a faux grass courtyard for family-friendly frolicking.

The last year has brought a flurry of activity at the shopping center. Sears downsized to make room for new additions such as outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean and trendy home store Ballard Designs. Land’s End, which was previously located inside Sears, is now open in a standalone store. Other recent additions include sneaker shop Vans and two British clothing retailers, Ted Baker and Charles Tyrwhitt.

On the dining front, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises closed seafood spot Reel Club and opened a second location of Chicago restaurant Beatrix in its place in February. In November of last year, beloved burger joint Shake Shack opened in an outlot adjacent to Oakbrook Center.

As of press time, a restaurant inside Crate & Barrel was under construction for a to-be-determined debut later this year, while a resort-style Life Time Fitness location with a rooftop pool deck is due to open in 2020.

Illustration by Maeve Norton