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Restaurants & Bars 2

A Few More Hours of Barbecue: Leon’s, Barbara Ann’s (Reopened!), Fitzee’s

Rene G | Feb 9, 200410:07 PM

I’ve been a little slow with the updates on recent barbecue forays. Here’s the most recent but I still owe an earlier one.

Stopped at the Cottage Grove outpost of Leon’s. Tried the ribs, tips, and links. Ribs and tips had decent flavor, but light on the smoke. Links were on the bland side. One of the real classic Chicago barbecue houses but not at the very top.

Got to sample another apple fritter from Dat Donut. Not bad but not in the same league as Old Fashioned Donut.

On the way to Leon’s we noticed that Barbara Ann’s had reopened after being closed for about 6 weeks while remodeling. I was really worried that things would be changed but that wasn’t the case; it looks much the same and the barbecue is still first-rate. Barbara Ann’s remains one of the elite barbecue houses in Chicago. Great rib tips and some of the best hot links around. Very good sauce (one of the few places I prefer the mild over hot, despite what I posted earlier). We should all let out a sigh of relief that Barbara Ann’s is back and as good as ever.

Then a quick stop at Tropic Island, my favorite place for jerk chicken. No room for chicken that day, just a cup of their extraordinary house-made ginger beer. I don’t think it’s listed on the menu and the wall signs are no longer up. It’s worth asking for (but only if you truly like ginger).

Another non-barbecue detour for steak sandwiches at Home of the Hoagie. There was quite a line as always and several customers spoke of the sandwich in reverent tones. Be aware this is definitely a cult item that not everyone will appreciate (as I saw with my own eyes). Let me re-emphasize what I said in an earlier post: this thing is really, really sweet!

On the way back north, a bathroom stop led us to Top Notch Beefburger Shop. Even though we’d probably exceeded our monthly allowance of fries in the previous few hours, how can you pass up "Pre-WWII Style Fries"? I believe this translates to "Fried in Animal Fat." Anyway they were great, as always, one might even say top notch.

There used to be a Fitzee’s at 6059 S Ashland but that seems to be long gone. The Fitzee’s on Indiana, right next to Velvet Lounge, is still open. Only tried rib tips which weren’t so great. Not a whole lot of flavor and a rather rubbery texture. Their much-praised (at least by the owners) sauce left me cold. Another of those rare places (on the south side at least) with a table in back to eat at.

One quick word on openings/closings. JR’s Caribbean Hut, introduced to us by RST about a year ago, has closed their store at 7960 S Ashland. A pity because they served excellent jerk chicken. But good news! On the west side of Indiana Av around 37th St (?) is a yet-to-open shop with a JR’s Caribbean sign in the window. I assume it’s the same people.

Other reports of earlier barbecue expeditions from last month can be found at:

(I-57, Best, 87th Street, Rib Joint, DD&S, George’s, Lem’s, Exsenator’s)

(Alice’s, Leon’s #4, Fredine’s, Phillip’s, Honey 1, Coleman’s #2, Rib Palace)

Leon’s Bar-B-Q
8251 S Cottage Grove Av

Dat Donut
8249 S Cottage Grove Av

Barbara Ann’s BBQ
7617 S Cottage Grove Av

Tropic Island Jerk Chicken
1922 E 79th St
773-978-JERK (5375)

Home of the Hoagie
1312 W 111th St

Top Notch Beefburger Shop
2116 W 95th St

Fitzee’s Serious Ribs and Chicken
2130 S Indiana Av

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