In business for 25 years and renowned for its slow-cooked barbecue ribs, the family-owned Nick's Barbecue maintains a culinary stable of more than 100 equally tempting items on its menu. Fall-off-the-bone barbecue baby back ribs cover fingers in a sweet signature sauce, dinner’s perfect complement to stylish sauce-colored outfits ($10.99). The barbecue pulled pork ($7.59) and half-chicken dinner ($7.45) team up tender white meats with three down-home sides, including mac ‘n’ cheese, potato wedges, barbecue baked beans, or mixed veggies. Two items that are as authentically Chicago as a silver bean riding the L train—the italian beef sandwich ($4.69) and the vienna all-beef hot dog ($2.15)—do their city proud as they tame the windiest of appetites.
Low and Slow BBQ Turkey grills its turkey-based burgers, ribs, and sandwiches in an open fire tickling pieces of apple, cherry, and hickory wood. Load up on healthy protein with the turkey jerk burger with a small side of fries ($4.75, $0.35 extra with cheese), or sharpen fangs on a combo plate of barbecue ribs and tips ($10.95 for a small; $15.95 for a large). Unconventional turkey tacos ($2.25) or the turkey Polishes ($5.95) confuse taste buds without upsetting them, and sides such as the soy-oil-cooked french fries ($1.35 for a small; $2.35 for a large) complement any plate, including license plates. With the small catering tray, customers receive a choice of 18 turkey ribs, 12 turkey hot links, or a comparable amount of turkey tips heaped up with a sizable serving of fries and wheat bread.
Bon a Pit’s menu takes a multipronged approach to appetites, prepping meticulously selected meats smoked in wood-burning ovens alongside fresh seafood and other barbecue fare. Like a staring contest with George Clooney, slabs of barbecued baby back ribs ($13.95 for half, $19.90 for full) smolder slowly in applewood seasonings, and the roasted veggie panini melt ($8.95) finds fresh veggies snuggling atop ciabatta bread beneath blankets of goat and provolone cheese. An inferno of flavorful flames licks the fresh dill atlantic salmon ($15.95), smothered with extra-virgin olive oil and homemade dill sauce beside an island of rice and toasty vegetables. Live musicians serve up blazing ballads alongside the delectable eats, which are enjoyed in a bright orange brick building.
“Barbecue meets beer garden” may sum up Sheffield’s, but it hardly does the bar—heralded by [Esquire] (http://www.esquire.com/bestbars/bb-sheffields) as one of the best in America—any justice. Standing at the corner of Sheffield and School and housed in the bottom floor of a three-story brownstone, Sheffield’s pulls all the stops when it comes to its two specialties. Barbecue sauce made from scratch smothers tender beef brisket, homemade sausage, and pork that chefs smoke for 14 hours and pull to order. Hand-cut fries and fresh baked cornbread complement the sandwiches and platters, as does any one of the bar’s microbrews, such as Allgash Blonde or Sawtooth English Ale. In the summer, bar-goers can enjoy their brew and food out back in the beer garden, which the Goodlife Report named as one of “America’s Best Beer Gardens”. As cold winds roll into town, patrons can escape to the cozy indoors, surrounded by brick walls and plenty of sports-casting TVs.
In a space reminiscent of an eclectic country roadhouse, Porkchop's chefs grill pork chops and veggies, smoke chicken, and pour shots of bourbon into iced drinks for a menu of gourmet comfort food. The barbecue masters grill their classic pork chops over charcoal embedded with whiskey barrels and smoke wings in special spices before frying and grilling them. Personal ice buckets filled with discarded ice sculptures accompany more than 40 whiskeys, served neat, to the tables inside the dining room or out on the patio during warmer weather. The chefs work amid quirky décor, such as a hanging lantern made from mason jars, a dangling row of saws, and a portrait of Paul Bunyan's first rack of ribs.
Chef Sweet Charity Smith presides over a culinary crew that stacks Brand BBQ Market's menu high with smoked meats slathered in a choice of eight homemade sauces. The Brandcheezie ($9.95)––a venison sausage stuffed with gorgonzola cheese, wrapped in bacon, and topped with brandy cherry sauce––makes a mouth-watering appetizer or lip-smacking paperweight. Diners can wrap their mitts around the Hedonist burger ($11.95) before sinking their teeth into flavorful burnt ends and grilled onions daubed in mac 'n' cheese sauce. Match your appetite against a full slab of baby back ribs ($21.95) smoked over apple and maple wood, or take taste buds the vegetarian route with a portobello mushroom sandwich ($8.25) packed with roasted red peppers, mixed greens, and goat cheese. The caramel pecan sundae curbs after dinner cravings with spoonfuls of creamy ice cream, enticing bites sweeter than love letters from Aunt Jemima.