Montgomery Inn has seen a lot of famous faces over the years; Johnny Cash, Brittany Spears, Cameron Diaz, countless professional athletes, and every US president since Gerald Ford. The real stars, though, are the restaurant's award-winning ribs. Founders Ted and Matula Gregory started serving them in the late 1950s using Matula's homemade barbecue sauce. The ribs were an instant hit with diners and earned their first official accolades from the Cincinnati Post in 1968.
Years later, Montgomery Inn has expanded both its menu?specialties now include housemade Saratoga chips and barbecued spring chicken?and locations, but the ribs still steal the show. In recent years, they've been lauded by The Today Show, CNBC, and Fox News. The restaurant has even their own grocery line, so customers can enjoy their ribs and sauces at home.
Ohio may be in the Midwest, but the menu at Windy City BBQ Ribs aims to transport diners to another part of the country. Chef and pitmaster Brandon Shy lives up to his slogan of “Put some south in your mouth!” with a heaping spread of southern-style barbecue, from smoked ribs and rotisserie chicken to Dixie sides such as and potato salad and collared greens. Guests can sign their name on the eatery’s Wall of Fame after enjoying a meal in the small indoor and outdoor seating areas. The meat emporium shuts down each day when the food is gone, so calling or sending up smoke signals in advance is recommended.
Most meals on the menu start with Shane's barbecue sauce, which is concocted from a secret recipe passed down from generation to generation, much like folktales, uneaten fruitcakes, and the location of the Holy Pail. Saddle up with one of Shane's feastful plates such as the famously meat-melting ribs ($12.49 for half rack and $19.49 for full rack), which are wistfully glazed in "Big Dad's" secret barbecue sauce and cradled in a smoker for hours until moist and tender. The decadent, slow-cooked pulled pork ($8.49) or savory beef brisket ($9.99)—both of which are smothered in barbecue sauce before being nestled between two slices of texas toast—will require at least three napkins or an old bridesmaid's dress to keep your hands clean. Shane's poultry pastimes include tenders ($4.99 to $7.99), wings ($6.99 to $13.99), and a chicken-salad sandwich. All plates are served with texas toast and two sides, including baked beans, fried okra, french fries, French mimes, corn on the cob, and mac ‘n’ cheese. Shane's can also slide a ton of flavorful sandwiches, salads, and over 20 gluten-free options across its counter.
Commence your Cajun- and Creole-laced meal with an appetizer of cornmeal-fried jumbo shrimp with rémoulade ($7.95), cornmeal-fried oysters ($9), or the roulade of house-smoked salmon crème fraîche ($7.95). Low Country barbecue fanatics find solace in Flatiron's made-from-scratch sauciness, such as the North Carolina–style mustard sauce on the pulled-pork sandwich served with coleslaw ($8.75) and the bourbon-barbecue slathering the slab of St. Louis pork ribs (with hand-cut fries and coleslaw, $14.75). For a genuine New Orleans experience up north, try the fried-oyster po' boy dressed with lettuce, tomato, and rémoulade on a baguette ($10, also available with shrimp or catfish). Devotees of pub food can grab a hefty half-pound cheeseburger with pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onion, and ancho mayonnaise ($8.50); the Flatiron gumbo with chicken, shrimp, and house-made andouille sausage ($5.95); or the house-made chorizo and black-bean chili ($5.50). Put a cap on your appetite with a finishing slice of homemade sweet-potato pie ($5) or a custard bread pudding with bourbon anglaise and shaved chocolate ($5).
Gallo’s Pit BBQ lives by three words: “low and slow.” Though it doubles as a good tip for limbo, this phrase refers to a Southern-style barbecue method that begins by cooking meat languorously over a pit filled with lump charcoal and wood. Before meat meets flames, grillmasters rub each cut with their signature spice rub to create a flavorful crust that complements its tender insides. Finally, they slather on a tangy and balanced barbecue sauce, which they perfected with more than half a decade of tweaking and tasting.
After settling down in tall booths or long benches in the brick-lined dining room, guests devour platters of brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, and pieces of chicken. They can also stick their forks into sides of made-to-order coleslaw and baked beans studded with bacon, brown sugar, and Kentucky bourbon.