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.
The River Grove Sheffield's serves up much of the same menu as its Chicago brethren. Enjoy spacious indoor or outdoor seating as you edibly encounter a full slab of barbecue ribs ($18.95). Other entrees include beer-battered fish and chips ($12.95) and barbecue spaghetti ($10.95), served with choice of smoked chicken, pulled pork, or brisket. Or munch on a barbecue platter, including smoked sausage ($9.95), smoked chicken ($9.95), or the combo platter ($16.95), with a choice of any two of Sheffield's barbecue options. In addition to ample parking, delivery, and HDTV-viewing options, the River Grove location also offers live entertainment on weekends—ideal for locals who have just realized that their television is a fish tank.
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.
As dusk begins to set in near the corner of Thatcher and North, a familiar site lights up the intersection—a towering chimney with blazing neon letters that read "Russell's." The iconic eatery originally opened its doors in the 1930s, and it remains unflinchingly committed to its deep neighborhood roots. "Russell's is more than a restaurant," claimed a 1999 feature in the Chicago Tribune, "it's a living piece of history."
This sense of history is most prevalent in the menu of slow-cooked barbecue and classic, home-style comfort foods. In addition to the signature barbecued-pork sandwich that appeared on the Food Network's Sandwich King, the menu also features slow-cooked beef and hearty slabs of ribs, all of which arrive with Russell's time-honored barbecue sauce. An assortment of familiar side dishes help complete each meal, including crispy onion rings, coleslaw, and brisket-scented oxygen.
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.
The rich scents of smoked meats and barbecue sauce fill Hickory River Smokehouse, where chefs slow-smoke beef brisket, pulled pork, and baby back ribs. They cover select cuts of meat in a housemade dry rub before smoking them for many hours in a hickory wood filled smoker. Succulent Texas-style barbecue is the result of the low and slow smoking style. Diners can indulge in award-winning pulled pork, sampler platters, or opt for a lighter fare, including low-fat smoked turkey and country ham. Housemade sides such as cornbread, Texas-style ranch beans, mustard- and mayonnaise-based potato salad, and homemade Texas-style chili round out the hearty meals.