Bub City, USA

January 21, 2013

Beer Can American Flag
When I heard one of my favorite restaurants growing up was making its return to Chicago, I was salivating at the opportunity to check it out. The former Bub City was around in the early 90s and was located near Joe's on Weed Street. I have fond memories of visiting the kitsch-y restaurant with my family and enjoying garlic rolls, seafood and frozen candy bars. I was nostalgic for the place so I had to see what the new Bub City was all about as soon as they opened.

The BF and I arrived on an early Wednesday evening and were able to walk right in. It was pretty busy for a Wednesday night but the restaurant had not been open too long. The new Bub City is located in River North, next door to Dragon Ranch and Frontera Grill. The main dining room is sandwiched between two bars, one featuring a giant selection of whiskeys (115+ varieties) and the other featuring an American flag made of beer cans. Bub City also features nightly concerts by up-and-coming country music artists, with the help of the folks at Joe's on Weed Street. The minimalistic stage is front and center, affording a good view from nearly any point in the dining room.

Music Stage
Bub City was always known for its shellfish and barbecue and that's one thing that hasn't changed from the original. Barbecue plates featuring ribs, chicken and brisket are served a la carte, with the options of adding sides such as mac 'n cheese, waffle fries and sweet potato fluff. The seafood offerings include usual raw bar favorites such as oysters, shrimp and crab legs.

Dinner Menu
On this particular visit, I opted for some fried pickles as a starter, rather than seafood. I figured what better way to get in the southern spirit than with a serving of batter pickles with ranch. I loved the cornmeal batter and homemade ranch and found myself dipping everything in it. Even the plates that came with our appetizer were great--a plastic version of a picnic white paper plate. A nice touch.

Fried Pickles
Whenever I'm at a barbecue joint, I tend to order the pulled pork. This was no exception. I went with the barbecue pulled pork sandwich with a side of waffle fries. The pork was extremely tender and not smothered in sauce, which I always appreciate. You almost didn't need any sauce at all, but I had to try each of Bub City's homemade sauces. That pork certainly rivaled my other favorites at Chicago Q and Smoque. The waffle fries were perfectly crisp and even tastier with the addition of the house seasoning blend I found on our table. I didn't particularly care for the bun the sandwich came on, but I did think it conveyed the type of down-home no-frills feel that Bub City goes for.

Pulled BBQ Pork Sandwich
The BF ordered the Eight Buck-Cluck sandwich, a battered chicken sandwich that you can get either regular or Buffalo-style. The chicken was incredibly juicy and the fried batter managed to be light and not too greasy. I had heard great things about the fried chicken at Bub City and if it's anywhere near as tasty as this sandwich, it's definitely worth a try!

Eight Buck-Cluck
No southern meal is complete without a little mac 'n cheese so we ordered a side of Bub's version. The mac arrived in a cast iron skillet bubbly and oozing with cheesy goodness. At first I wasn't crazy about it, but once I let the mac cool down, the texture changed and I was really able to appreciate the flavor. It definitely grew on me.

Phoebe's Mac & Cheese
There may be some things that are different about the new Bub City when compared to the original, but it's clear that this place is here to stay. Everything we tried was perfect and unique and it was clear that a lot of thought and detail went into the menu. I've already accrued a list of menu items to try next time including the burnt ends, fried chicken and sweet potato fluff and have heard their house frozen Mexican firing squad margarita is a can't-miss concoction.

I'm giving Bub City 4.5 stars because their food lives up to the hype, they have an atmosphere that makes you feel like you're in Nashville (and I love Nashville) and they've still managed to keep a few aspects of the original restaurant (hint: check out the women's bathroom). I think they have a few kinks to work out in their service, but they were pretty new when I visited, so I'll cut them some slack.

Bub City
435 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL
Reservations at OpenTable
Bub City on Urbanspoon

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