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Check Please

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 back.


Purchase 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 fork 01/18/2006
...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 butter.
Of course they have a great menu, and even a few veggie options - portobello is great."

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!"

Design G, 10/27/2005
"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."


Dine Site.Com

howardjablon, 11/25/05
Great ribs--really smoked! Best ribs I have eaten in a long time. Definitely a place to go back to.


June 14, 2005, jk, chicago, il
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...

June 9, 2005 , Adam , Chicago, IL
Whenever my wife and I go to the AMC movie theater, we go here first. Often, this
.is 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!

March 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!

February 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.

November 17, 2004, Doug, Chicago, IL
The brown sugar coated bacon blt will knock your socks off! Simply amazing barbecue.

October 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!

August 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'll get confused in no time. Fat Willy's is the neighborhood restaurant I compare others to.


Report submitted 6/2/05:
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 fantastic!


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!


ZAGAT SURVEY 2004 & 2005

Cue cravers who quip "may Willy get even fatter' "hate to let people know about this great" "no-frills" BBQ and Southern "joint" in Logan Square, where the "substantial" "comfort-food" fare like "good brisket" and ribs along with "great cornbread and mac 'n'cheese" makes you start planning your trip back the minute you leave."

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