Scroll down for reviews from ABC7's James Ward, the Chicago
Reader, and Metromix.
Nathan, Loralee, and Fred
The only place that has a link for Fat
Willy's Baked 4 Cheese Macaroni
Nathan recommends it and says it's the best brisket in the world.
Loralee says the good food is reason enough for a trip to the city.
Fred said the large portions and reasonable prices will keep him coming
the book online or the next time you're at Fat Willy's--page 29.
I've only had true southern barbecue once, so i don't claim to be an expert,
but having spent a great deal of time with a barbecue snob, if there can
be such a thing, i found myself along for the ride on a trek for true
'cue in chicago. once i tore into the ribs at fat willy's and tried the
pulled pork and texas toast, i knew the hunt was over. the ribs are the
best i've had north of the mason-dixon line, and the crowds at fat willy's
confirm my sentiment. this yankee's sold. imbibe: hand-squeezed lemonade,
housemade margaritas. devour: baby back ribs, mac-and-cheese, pulled pork
sandwich, beef brisket, chocolate pecan pie
Born to Fork Web Log
josh kell, born to
...the food is great. Great barbeque. Just a smooth flavor that isn’t
over-powering and doesn’t try too hard. Terrific stuff. And they
have a ton of stuff to choose from. I went with the rib tips, which were
great, but I wouldn’t recommend them. Rib tips (and I always forget
this) require a little more effort than anything else, because you have
to work around the bits of rib bone, and it’s harder than a typical
slab of ribs, because they are cut up into pieces. You could get brisket,
slabs of ribs, different types of sandwiches, mac and cheese, and so on.
All the stuff you would expect to find at a barbeque joint you’ll
find here. And the portions are large and hard to finish, even for me.
(note: that’s if you get the full basket. You could always go with
a half order, or the half basket.)I can’t wait to go back to this
place, and I’m hoping many, many times. Especially in the summer
when they have a good sized outdoor eating area. I know I didn’t
discover the place, but I still give it a chest bump with a manly ass
slap and recommend that you go.
Dilip J, 03/07/2006
"I can't tell you how much I love the Beef Brisket and their bbq
sauce, the spicy version. You'll leave the place full and probably w/
a doggie bag.
The jalepeno corn bread so so worth the calories for an extra slab of
Of course they have a great menu, and even a few veggie options - portobello
Jessica M, 04/19/2006
"My boyfriend is OBSESSED with barbeque, and this is the best place
he's found in Chicago. I had the pulled pork sandwich and he had the ribs,
both of which were to die for. The fries are crispy and yummy, the lemonade
is tasty and ice cold (and served half in a metal cup like a milk shake!),
the waitstaff is really friendly. On a summer day, I cannot think of any
place I'd rather go for some greasy down home eats! Go to Fat Willy's!"
"I rarely drive anywhere in the city -- I've lived in cities my whole
life and find that only people who have come from the suburbs insist...
but I will drive west to get bbq from fat willys. If I don't go south
this is the only place in town worth the trip. Low-key, messy and an atmosphere
as easy as pie. Cheap eats."
Great ribs--really smoked! Best ribs I have eaten in a long time. Definitely
a place to go back to.
June 14, 2005, jk,
Everything I've ever had at Fat Willy's--from the huge bbq burger to the
full rack of ribs to the entree salads-- has been delish and more food
than I can usually tackle in one sitting. The desserts look great, although
I've never had room for any, AND, if you live in the neighborhood (west
to Kimball and east to Ashland, I believe), this place delivers! Favorite
BBQ place by far...
9, 2005 , Adam , Chicago, IL
Whenever my wife and I go to the AMC movie theater, we go here first. Often,
the highlight of the evening. I think that their food is worth trying no
matter if you ..are going to a show or not.
Very good BBQ and usually nice wait service.
June 9, 2005, local diner , Chicago, il
Would you believe this place has a fabulous salad too? The roasted vegetable
salad has all sorts of yummy ingredients, and now my husband can have bbq
whenever he wants!
7, 2005, Mark , Chicago, IL
WOW! Best BBQ in Chicago! The place is smallish, just across from a movie
theatre, so the crowds can get heavy, so get there early. The menu offers
something for everyone, but you gotta get the BBQ! The service was a tad
slow, but attentive and friendly. I got the pork rib tips- mouth watering!
Slow cooked to perfection, with right amount of char grilled smoky flavor.
The BBQ sauce is great- quietly tangy and smokey. They have hot and mild
flavor sauce. The pork ribs were delectable - meat fell right off the bone.
I got corn bread with honey butter and fries - yummy! Somehow made room
for dessert - a fudge cake ice cream sunday served in a hot cast iron skillet.
The bill was low for the amount of food ordered. Overall value - the best
in the city for casual dining. Highest rating possible!
23, 2005, JZ, Chicago, IL
This is some of the best bbq I have ever had; definitely the best in Chicago.
The pulled pork sandwich is out of this world. It has a wonderfully smoky
flavor which is enhanced by just the right amount of sauce. The service
is friendly and attentive, and the prices are extremely reasonable for such
enormous portions. They also have several great bbq sauces and dipping sauces.
Expect to be stuffed when you leave.
17, 2004, Doug, Chicago, IL
The brown sugar coated bacon blt will knock your socks off! Simply amazing
29, 2004 , John, Chicago, IL
Hold on a second I gotta lick my fingers. Ahhh that's a pulled pork sandwich.
I fast for two days just so I can order two pulled porks, and I'm a lite
weight! Hold on I gotta finish the rest of my pulled pork. MMMMMMMMMMMM!
24, 2004, Larisa, Chicago, IL
When I garden, the sweet smoky smell of Fat Willy's barbeque teases me.
It's not intrusive though--like the stench from BK--in fact, I think Demeter
should bottle it. Don't expect fast food service either; their style is
relaxed but also thoughtful and polite (very southern, I think). If you
believe the ribs are your favorite, next time try the chicken, burger, brisket,
dinner salads...you'll get confused in no time. Fat Willy's is the neighborhood
restaurant I compare others to.
I like the generously portioned entrees of items usually considered sides
like baked mac & cheese, chili, and gumbo. Also have an excellent salad
of greens, spinach, bleu cheese, apples, and candied pecans.
Report submitted 3/9/05:
We have been going to Fat Willy's for a couple of years and have found it
to be one of the best BBQ spots we've found. The pulled pork is outstanding
-- and piled so high that it's hard to finish. The pulled pork comes with
authentic down south cole slaw toping that really kicks it up a notch! The
side dishes are also bountiful and definitely have that homemade taste.
For those who aren't into heavy food, they offer some wonderful salads that
are packed with their fresh smoked chicken, fresh apples, dried fruits,
and tossed with an outstanding raspberry vinaigrette. I suggest you go easy
on the sides, because the portions are so large that 2 or 3 people could
easily share one. It is really kid friendly, even having a chalkboard wall
that the kids can draw on while waiting for their meal.
Report submitted 1/30/05:
Fat Willy's does the best BBQ north of Roosevelt Avenue. The ribs are smoked
overnight and then charred upon ordering. The sauce is sweeter and lighter
than most places, so expect your ribs to be more meaty than saucy. At $21,
though, the ribs are more of a treat for me than a regular take-out item.
The BBQ burger here, I believe, is the best burger in the whole city. It's
2/3 of a pound of fresh ground meat and covered with an overwhelming amount
of cheese, bacon, and grilled onions. It's really decadent and filling.
I think I've ordered it at least 5 times and it has always been superb.
The pulled pork and beef are also very good when fresh, but can be dry on
occasion. The sides here are also surprisingly good for a BBQ joint. The
mashed potatoes seem to be done to order from scratch and the baked beans
are full of bacon bits and tangy sauce. The Texas toast is just about the
best garlic bread I've ever had, and somehow they melded the flavors so
that it tastes great with the meat and the sauce. Note that this place is
extremely unfriendly to vegetarians, save an overpriced and bland macaroni
and cheese dish. But for an evening of cadaver gluttony, this place is tops.
Report submitted 1/26/04:
Their ribs are outstanding - and great quality meat (very meaty - not too
fatty). They give you a very, very large rack when you order a "whole
rack of ribs". Their BBQ chickens is equally plump and delicious. They're
"Texas Toast" is the best! And a newly discovered dish - their
"grilled shrimp" is out of this world! In fact, I recommend you
do a rack of ribs with some grilled shrimp. They have some really great
side dishes from their macaroni and cheese to baked beans. Everything is
homemade and truly delicious. Be sure to try their homemade lemonade - also
The skinny on Fat Willy's
If you're looking for southern comfort food at the right price, Food Critic
James Ward has a little wonder restaurant you won't believe! So, James is
here to give us the skinny on Fat Willy's.
Fat Willy's Rib Shack is a little wonder restaurant - very little on space,
but big on wonder! This place is the real hot & spicy thing. However,
its laid-back easy-going attitude disguises an almost compulsive-obsessive
emphasis on quality. As you'll see!
Now why would you come here - to this tiny- obscure-out-of-the-way rib shack.
Why? Well, let me count the ways - as Liz Browning would say ...
First - Fat Willy's is in the center of many cultural attractions ... maybe
take an architectural tour of the neighborhood ... or pick-out a pre-owned
pick-up on Western ... bargain hunt on nearby Elston ... or take in a flick
at City North Cinema ... ... which is just across the way from Fat Willy's!
Now, the place ain't much to look at, but that's part of its charm says
owner Bo Fowler ...
"Well, it seems like all the great barbeque houses in the south were
in really ugly strip malls. And here's mine!" said Bo Fowler.
But the reason for going to Fat Willy's is on the plate. The BBQ sauce is
sweetly southern - but sauce alone does not a great barbeque make, it's
in the method. After marinating, the ribs are lightly smoked over hickory
& applewood ... then slow-cooked - until they're tender but tactile,
lip-smackin', finger-lickin' good! And customers come from all of over ...
" ... from everywhere - northside, southside, they come for baby backs
or our great tips," said Bo Fowler.
Other highlights: the piled-high pulled pork or beef brisket sandwich ...
baked & bubbling 4-cheese macaroni ... flame-licked Texas toast ...
heart-stopping steak fries in peanut oil ... the DOA 80-20 ground chuck
burger with cheese and bacon and more! Try them all if you dare.
And don't miss the creations of John Collins - the killer soup guy - whose
thick Cajun gumbo or made-from-scratch-soups are as mean as his bass playing.
And take a toss of the ultimate green salad - a huge & healthy pseudo-Waldorf.
Finally the sides - all super from baked beans to cole slaw & grilled
corn. And desserts include chocolate pecan pie - can you stand it? I can!
Fat Willy's Rib Shack is at 2416 W. Schubert, just off Western near the
Kennedy. Call 773-782-1800 Average tab, under ten bucks.
And on a scale of 1 to 10, Fat Willy's gets a Bread rating of 8 for food;
and a 6 for Circuses.
So do go to Fat Willy's - but because it's as small in space as it is huge
in value - please, do not go all at once. And yes, there is no Fat Willy
- but they couldn't exactly call it Skinny Willy's either!