photo: peter ranvestel
If you're strolling through Cubs country this season, you might catch a whiff of Wrigleyville’s brand-new BBQ joint, Sweet Baby Ray's Smokehouse, Bourbon & Beer. In fact, if you're anywhere within a half block of Clark and Cornelia, you'll find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with the intoxicating aroma of smoked pork and sauce.
While the Cubbies battled the Giants on a brisk Saturday, we spent a few innings checking out the newly launched location (housed in the former Uberstein space) and talking ‘cue with David Raymond—Sweet Baby Ray himself.
Raymond is clearly enamored with barbecue and is eager to spread the love down North Clark Street. The man lives, eats and breathes barbecue, a cuisine he admires for its "purity and simplicity." He also spoke very highly of the barbecue scene in Chicago—namely, Smoque and Chicago Q—saying, "The best people I know are barbecue people."
As for Sweet Baby Ray’s, the smoker serves up pulled pork, chicken, and ribs (we’re told to try the competition-style St. Louis/Memphis ribs), and 17 unique sauces. Raymond's idea for the place is a food-centered alternative to the bar-heavy area. It's comfortable—intentionally not as full of tables as the space could accommodate—so you can watch the game and have a bite without drunk bros shouting at the screen and spilling beer. The formula is a winner. And Wrigleyville could use some more wins.