435 N. Clark St Chicago, IL
“Chicago” and “downhome southern fare” are hardly synonymous, but Lettuce Entertain You’s new kid on the River North block manages to pull a small helping of hillbilly heaven into one of the most trafficked neighborhoods east of I-90 and north of the Chicago River. Devoid of the pretentiousness many of the L.E.Y. restaurants tote, Bub City offers a family-friendly environment, a laid back attitude, and great food to [cowboy] boot.
When you walk inside, you’re met with a large bulletin board covered in colorful flyers advertising Bub City’s Tuesday night live band karaoke and upcoming stage acts. Joe’s on Weed Street may still reign supreme as the city’s hottest country venue, but Bub City seeks to stay right on its heels, pushing an inviting atmosphere that would put Joe’s austere sports bar vibe to shame.
You know you’ve struck gold when you find a restaurant with TWO bars: a whiskey bar and an everything else bar. Saddle up, urban cowboy, and drink a little drink (but don’t smoke a little smoke, because it’s illegal here).
Bub City’s menu is all kinds of deep fried and barbecued goodness that lies right on the hostile border of refined and barbaric. In keeping with my ontological theory that all humans MUST succumb to the seductive powers of fried pickles before they die, I suggest you start your gut-bustin’ meal with a basket of these:
Coated in a seasoned cornmeal batter and fried to a lust-worthy golden hue, Bub City’s fried pickles help provide your life with a little more meaning. The only thing that could make them better is substituting a homemade chipotle ranch dipping sauce for the decidedly average ranch you’re given.
If your arteries are telling you “no, baby, no” but your figurative heart is saying “yes” to a deep fried second course, order the fried chicken. Or better yet, chicken and waffles with a side of jalapeno-bacon honey. Zac Brown has since had to amend his song in order to pay homage to this superior manifestation of the country classic.
If that doesn’t entice you, I sure hope the barbecued pulled pork sandwich does. A whiffle ball sized scoop of slow cooked meat is nestled between the top and bottom of a buttery grilled bun and may require the assistance of a fork[lift]. Tag team it with some of the tangiest cole slaw you’ll ever try, more pickles, and a heap of perfectly-salted waffle fries, and you’ll be boot-scootin’-boogiein’ your way in slow motion to a horizontal state on your couch. Food comas are so underrated.
Moral of the story: Bub City delivers a delightfully polished-yet-kitschy country experience all wrapped up in a plaid flannel bow.
Be sure to check out their website for full menus and table reservations!