Sunday, July 3, 2011
Fat Willy's Rib Shack
Chicago has a wealth of barbecue joints but surprisingly, there is no Chicago style barbecue. It's surprising because Chicago used to be known as the Hog Butcher to the World. It could be argued that places like Gale Street Inn, Robinson's, or Carson's serve Chicago style ribs but their ribs aren't smoked and try to make up for it by slathering them in overly sweet barbecue sauce. There are enough barbecue joints in the city though, displaying different styles that a distinct Chicago style isn't really missed. I went to Fat Willy's Rib Shack on Friday to celebrate the 4th of July because what is the 4th of July without barbecue? Fat Willy's basically serves a Memphis style rib although does offer St. Louis Style spare ribs, as well as Carolina vinegar based, and a spicy sauce on the side. They also offer some really good pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. Their signature sauce is very thick, and has a sweet and smoky flavor with a little spice is served on the rib as well as on the side. The restaurant is aptly named because it looks like a shack. The walls and floor are weathered plywood and the tables are covered with an imitation cow hide. There is also a sheltered outdoor dining area that you actually have to walk through to enter the restaurant. One side wall on the side of an elevated dining area is a chalkboard that people are allowed to do birthday wishes on. The background music was a lot of old-style music similar to the music used on O Brother Where Art Thou? The service was friendly and I was seated quickly after I arrived. I didn't plan on pigging out (if you will excuse the pun) when I arrived so I ordered a half-rack of Baby Back Ribs that came with a side of fries and Texas Toast. If it isn't clear from what I have said previously, it was very good if messy, and the meat came easily off the bone. If I had stopped there, I would have been easily satisfied. The dessert menu, however, was written on the opposite wall and I kept on coming back to the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. This is as decadent as it sounds. It had a dark chocolate cookie crust with the main part of the pie being peanut butter. On the top was a layer of milk chocolate sprinkled with crushed peanuts. It was very good if not something that I would (or should) offer every day. I enjoy Fat Willy's and will enjoy coming back to it after I visit some other barbecue places.