I’ve lived in the Chicago area most of my life, minus my college years and the three years I lived in Dublin, OH (a suburb of Columbus). While there are many things I love and miss about Columbus, the choice of food/restaurants wasn’t at the very top of the list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a metropolitan city with many great dining choices, but there is nothing I truly missed that I couldn’t find here in Lake County/Chicago.
However, just like many things that I miss, I didn’t realize I missed something from Columbus until I saw the news: a City Barbeque was opening at the new Mellody Farms shopping center! City Barbeque is headquartered in Columbus and was one of the first local restaurants I tried when we lived there. It was so delicious, it became an almost weekly staple in our house, especially when we needed a good family-friendly take-out meal or party food.
I was lucky to get a few soft-opening tickets for the new City Barbeque and I visited with high expectations that I’m happy to report were met.
City Barbeque is the type of place you go with your kids, your friends, or by yourself. The choices are vast and the quality is high. I went with my friend and my four-year-old twin daughters to the soft opening and found the space bright and cheery. The staff, while learning the ropes, were very friendly and helpful. When you walk in, you immediately get in line to order your food and pay (there are menu boards above or paper menus to peruse while in line). The delicious fare is made quickly and you receive a metal (baking-type) tray with your order to bring to your table. The drinks (soda pop center, as well as fresh iced tea, lemonade and Arnold Palmers) are on the way to the seating area, along with extra cutlery, napkins, etc.
Once you sit with your order, you’ll see a BBQ sauce stand with little cups. This is the fun part! You can grab six different sauces including Brushfire, Sweet City, Original, Bourbon, Swine Wine and Low Country Mustard to dip or top off your meat (or side) of choice. My personal favorite is the Bourbon sauce.
The menu includes classic barbeque favorites: brisket, pulled pork, turkey breast, pulled chicken and sausage, as well as ribs and chicken. The meats are all smoked on site, too. Depending on your taste and hunger preferences, you can order your meats as a sandwich (with bun), naked (no bun) or by the pound. There are various sampler packages, family pack dinners, party packs, and kid’s plates. Plus shareable baskets of fried pickle chips and cheesy bacon fries.
And then there are the sides. They are not just backup dancers to the dazzling meat, they are the lead guitarist! The “standard” barbeque sides are all made with an authentic twist and all from scratch (on site) using family recipes: fresh cut fries, potato salad, green beans with bacon, sweet vinegar slaw (my fave), southwest slaw, collard greens with pork and baked beans with brisket. Our main go-to family favorites are the mac & cheese, corn pudding (seriously, one of the best), hush puppies, and of course, warm cornbread.
Ok, ok, I hear you. This isn’t sounding like the best place to go while on a diet, right? Well rest easy, they have a couple of winning salads as well (with meat or not) and they even have a Lite Lunch Combo that has a smaller sandwich with two sides. And don’t forget the naked meat, my personal favorite! And of course, they have desserts (banana pudding, cobbler, triple chocolate cake). To be honest, I’ve never tried any, as I’m always too full!
Whether you are feeding a crowd at home with their fabulous party packs or just feeding yourself or your small family at lunch or dinner, City Barbeque has more than enough options to meet your needs. They also cater! From my experience at the new location in Vernon Hills to my history with them in Columbus, OH, City Barbeque is not just another barbeque chain. They are known for their “competition quality, backyard hospitality,” so next time you find yourself craving some delicious and authentic barbeque, be sure to check out City Barbeque and let us if you agree!