If you shed tears when Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill closed last year, cry no more. Lettuce Entertain You’s country-inspired Bub City seamlessly moved into the space (actually about half of the space) in Rosemont’s entertainment district.
Motif: There’s still a rough and rowdy Texas warehouse vibe to this place. The decor runs the gamut from antelope mounts to an American flag fashioned from empty beer cans. Two good-sized bars flank the open room and, from what the staff tells me, it can get pretty dang full on a Friday night.
Dinner seating comes in the form of traditional tables or high-tops along the periphery. On pleasant nights you’ll have to wait for a seat on the roomy, covered patio. While not billed as a sports bar, flat screens abounded with baseball and soccer on the night of my visit.
The food: Barbecue might be king here, but it’s a benevolent ruler, ceding menu space to fried chicken (available in three finishes: original, buffalo or Nashville hot), burgers and a few salads. When it came to the ‘cue, the beef brisket caught my eye. Smoked for 18 hours until it’s crusty and tender in the same bite, it’s great as the star of the plate, or piled atop mac and cheese. I don’t know which part of the delicious mashup I enjoyed more, the smokey kick of the brisket or the fat elbows cloaked in creamy orange cheese.
Carolina-style pulled pork is another hit, and if you like the Bub City sauce you can buy a bottle on your way out the door. If you really want a taste of the place, grab a couple of napkins and settle in for the Meat and Three Special: $18.95 for your choice of proteins and three sides, baked beans and Southern greens among them.
Barbecue also shows up on the appetizer menu in the dinner-sized nachos or smothered over waffle fries. You’ll find chili, taquitos, chicken wings and chicken sandwiches as well. Oh, and there’s brunch (biscuits and gravy and a Bloody Mary bar!) for early risers on Saturday and Sunday.
Liquid consumption: Mondays mean $5 margaritas at Bub City but I opted instead for the Back Porch Tea, which I found too sweet in spite of the Jack Daniel’s. Another signature cocktail, The Memphis Mule, made to order with vodka and ginger beer, also failed to impress and drove the point home that this is a whiskey bar. The selections — too many to count — can be served neat or on the rocks and range from $9 to $22 for a two-ounce pour. Craft beer drinkers will be happier selecting from the rotating taps of local and regional brews (Bell’s Oberon, Revolution’s Fish City) than the Bub City Gold, akin to Miller.
Service: The service was spot-on and convivial. Daisy Dukes and deep-V T’s seemed to be the favored waitress uniform though I did catch one in skinny jeans and a plaid shirt.
Entertainment: You’ll pay a cover to take in the largely country-inspired acts on the weekends (check the website because there’s not music every weekend night). If you get in for dinner before the bands start you won’t be kicked out. Or, show up Tuesday for free live-band karaoke.
Crowd: Single ladies take note: I think all the men in the suburbs were here the other night — the Daisy Dukes might have a bit to do with that. Bub City seems to attract large groups of visiting businessmen as well. And it’s a place you could bring the family for an earlyish dinner and then migrate to the park for a bags tournament or a free concert.
Overall: Bub City has settled in comfortably in MB Financial Park with its Texas-sized space and Texas-inspired menu.