An LA hound was in the mood for scarfing down some good Ital beef this weekend and wanted to compare the two restaurants. Reviews on the Chowhound Chicago board are heavily weighted on Al's and Johnnie's. So in the comfort of time near me, I duked out Al's vs. Portillo's. Went to Al's first for the double dip beef sandwich with fries, and I hate to say this but the quality of the meat was poor. Seemed that the beef was sitting around for a while and was a little stringy. Fries I thought were good with a very nutty flavor due to the type of oil they use, which I believe must be peanut with some type of lard. The meat quality could be due to the fact that I arrived there around 3pm. Portillo's beef sandwich, or big beef was a wonderful mound of soft supple meat with just the right mount of jus. Unlike the Al's jus, it seemed less salty, and the quality of the bread sopped up just the right amount of jus. Al's was very wet due to the double dipping, and was quite messy for a sanwich.... which I did not mind. The fries were crinkle cut, and tasted like they were fried out of an Ore Ida bag. I cannot recommend the fries. I ate at Portillo's on Saturday night around 10pm, and the quality was excellent, and service seemed on top of it. Overall I am surprised how good the Portillo's beef sandwich is, especially coming from a Chicago chain. I will be back to Portillo's in regards to a beef sandwich and I am lucky that they opened one up near me in Buena Park, CA. I was too full to try the dogs and ribs, and please let me know if there is something that I should try there next time.