In honor of the National Restaurant Association Show, we’re continuing our coverage of top-tier places to visit while you’re in Chicago.
Next on the bucket list, we kicked off National Barbecue Month this May at Old Crow Smokehouse (3506 N. Clark, 773/537-4452), located in the heart of the ever-popular Wrigleyville. Quickly establishing itself among the best country bar/barbecue restaurants to recently blitz the Chicago scene, Old Crow’s concept is proving to be epic.
With the barbecue/country music pairing being as wildly popular as it is across the city, Old Crow’s ace in the hole has to be Chef Tony Scruggs (and it doesn't hurt that Wrigley Field is approximately 200 yards north). Form-fitting the restaurant’s hours to coincide with Cubs games in the summer, Chef Scruggs seems to know exactly what people are looking for. In addition to offering your traditional barbecue favorites—ribs, pulled pork and brisket—he has also put together an omnibus of unique, modern dishes which he features on the menu. Start off with their Pulled Pork Egg Rolls, a brilliant infusion of flavors. The Pulled Pork wrap with bacon and French-fried onions mixed with a Worcestershire cheese and barbecue sauce is just as heavenly as it sounds. The brisket ends melt in your mouth and the twice-baked and mashed sweet potatoes are the perfect companion to all things pork.
Chef Scruggs has such an interesting story, and I was lucky enough to have him share it when we were touring the smoker, indulging in the brisket ends he made available. He started with a career as a steel hauler/truck driver, where he furthered his interest in food, in particular barbecue, as his territory was in the barbecue-loving states of Tennessee and Arkansas. While driving, he regularly tried new barbecue places, and he began perfecting his own style back in Illinois. After racking up numerous awards from county and state meat competitions, his daughter convinced him to take his concoctions to the next level and encouraged him to audition for the Fox Network’s MasterChef. He landed a spot as a contestant on season two, giving him national recognition and celebrity-status throughout Kankakee County. Hunting ramps in his free time to incorporate into dishes, Chef Scruggs has a passion for locally-produced products. He believes that the wood used in the smoker is just as important as the spices used on the meats, and his signature “Scruggs Rubs” throughout the menu prove that these dishes maintain their mouth-watering standards, with or without barbecue sauces.
Housing two large, open warehouse-style rooms, Old Crow offers the best of both worlds. One with a retractable glass roof for enjoying the best of Chicago summers, and another, offering a central stage for the abundance of bands that play and open space for dancing.
Swearing by the motto, “Come for the barbecue, stay for the music,” Old Crow reminds you to make sure to bring your cowboy boots and a hearty appetite on your next visit.
Cubs Game Hours:
12:05pm games—open at 10:00am
1:20pm games—open at 11:00am
3:05pm games—open at 12:00pm
7:05pm games—open at 4:00pm
Sunday - Tuesday—5pm – Midnight
Wednesday – Friday—5pm – 2am
Saturday—5pm – 3am
Full menu until 11 pm daily
Late night menu available 11pm-1am Wednesday-Saturday