When paired with blues chords, the smell of barbecue sauce transcends the normal sensory experience. Housemade dry rubs and sauces sink into smoked brisket, turkey, pulled pork, baby back ribs as the meat smokes slowly over a mix of hickory and applewood chips. Blues Bar masters this ethereal combination of soulful sounds and soul food, coupling weekends of live music with saucy ribs and sides of honey-chipotle corn bread and homemade fries. Inside the lofted dining room, tables look down onto the bar and its 24 HDTV screens that play live sporting events. Also you can find well over 75 plus craft bottled beers and 20 continually rotated draft craft beers. The blues joint’s decor pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chicago icons the Blues Brothers with a larger-than-life mural of the smart-suited duo and a full-sized vintage squad car in which John Belushi’s hat was once arrested for armed robbery.
Sweet Baby Ray's slow-smokes and cooks savory barbecue comestibles for lunch and dinner. Stuff your socks with wet-wipes and begin with an appetizer of fried calamari ($8.99), served with fresh lemon and house marinara, or skip ahead to a half slab of oxford-blouse-staining baby-back ribs ($14.99 at dinner, $12.99 at lunch). A pulled-pork plate ($12.99 at dinner, $10.99 at lunch) is seasoned in a house-made rub and smoked for up to 12 hours before being hand-pulled and served up with Sweet Baby Ray's signature barbecue sauce for a stomach-grumble-snuffing meatsperience. If meaty isn't your cup of sports drink, order up a plate of smoked tomato rigatoni ($10.99), penne pasta bathed in house marinara and topped with parmesan cheese.
Hand-carved tikis and 12-foot-tall stone Easter Island moai preside over Tiki Terrace. Seated under swaying palms at hard-carved booths and tables, dinner guests enjoy a regional menu that starts with traditional pupu appetizers, such as taro chips and housemade pineapple salsa, and proceeds to traditional seafood and pork specialties. In the party-friendly tiki tradition, groups of up to four can share the Hawaiian punch bowl, a powerful elixir that arrives in a volcano tiki bowl with a fiery surprise. On Friday and Saturday nights, the dining room's elevated center stage fills with the South Pacific’s dances, music, and ceremonial red-rover matches.
Chicken Charlie's grills and smokes fresh, never-frozen chicken that ABC7's "Hungry Hound" Steve Dolinsky says “arrives tender and juicy, not overcooked.” The eatery's menu abounds with slabs of ribs slathered in barbecue sauce, brisket sandwiches, and baked potatoes stuffed with grilled chicken breast and dressed in cheddar cheese. Catering services supply ample eats for coworkers, birthday partygoers, or hoarders who contend that Y2K has just been biding its time before striking.
Seekers of authentic Italian foodstuffs will find their fixes at Stashs, a 43-year-old Highland Park mainstay known for its varied menu filled with tasty fries, gourmet sandwiches ($9.99–14.99), baby-back ribs, and more. Guido’s, a pizza and pasta bar inside Stashs’s protective biosphere, pairs freshly cut, customizable pasta dishes soaked in homemade sauces with flavor-packed dough disks cooked in a traditional brick oven. Intercept a mozzarella-strewn margherita pie ($9.99) right as it leaves its peel, or juggle a plate of beef ribs ($14.99–18.99) while balancing Guido’s own mozzarella, spinach, and red-pepper aoli sandwich ($9.99) on your favorite nostril. A bright, open space accented with lustrous wood floors and colorful chairs, Stashs sets the mood for romantic comedy reenactments or spaghetti western after parties.
At Salt Creek Barbeque, two distinct aromas weave through the air: a cocktail of herbs and sauces distilling itself into barbecue sauce, and the scent of hickory from a smoker, where each of Salt Creek's meats spends 5–12 hours to enhance flavor and unwind from its fight with the butcher. The house-made sauce drenches dishes such as hand-pulled pork and shaved brisket—stacked atop sandwich buns or texas toast—and bastes plates of slow-smoked meaty rib tips with its aromatic flavor. The signature sauce makes yet another appearance as a uniform for chicken wings, also available in coats of buffalo or spicy sauce that diners wash down with fountain drinks or pitchers of domestic and imported beers from the full-service bar. A full slate of burgers and catfish sandwiches round out the menu of quintessentially American fare, accompanied by classic sides of corn bread and mashed potatoes. Salt Creek Barbecue also caters for special events, forging party-sized portions of its iconic menu items.