Piggyback Tavern: barbequed meat in a cozy setting.
I could end the review right there and it would be enough, right?
If I did, it would probably still bring in for a visit, but it wouldn't do justice to the expansive and varied menu of appetizers, entrees and drinks available at the new Forest Park BBQ joint.
Although Piggyback is brought to you by the same owner of Lake Street Bar + Grill in Oak Park, the vibe and menu is decidedly different. When I talked with Jason Kurosaki, head chef at both restaurants, back in October for a preview article on the new dining establishment, he assured me that Piggyback was all about the staples and the basics.
"We want to do BBQ really well, not reinvent the wheel. It's perfect as it is," Kurosaki said.
It seems like he's lived up to that promise: it's not that the menu isn't fun and playful (it is), but Piggyback sticks to what BBQ lovers like best—and that means a focus on meat and things that go well with meat.
Piggyback is now officially open, but I took a friend with me one night for a sneak peak at the restaurant's soft opening. What we got was good food in a relaxed atmosphere, a killer beer list and a fun cocktail menu, all supplied by a friendly server who made sure we had everything we needed—it's hard to ask for more.
To start, we got the bacon and cheddar corn dogs appetizer. We ordered it expecting one thing, but got something decidedly different—and not in a bad way. The appetizer is just one way the menu is able to stay playful and classic at the same time. Each corn dog was at least two bites (and six come on a plate). Instead of a hotdog, though, the meat inside is a sausage made from bacon. It was good. Really good.
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For our entree, my friend and I decided to stick to staples for matters of this review. That was not an easy decision—the po' boy sandwiches, wood fired burger and bone in pork chop were calling out our names as well. We chose the brisket and the pulled pork in the end and were quite pleased with what arrived.
Piggyback provides three sauces to soak your BBQ in as well, all of which are very tasty. Personally, I liked the tangy sauce and the vinegary Carolina style sauce, but my buddy couldn't have been happier than with the sweet style sauce.
Oh, and the mac and cheese—order it.
For drinks we started off with beers. Like everything on the menu, the beer list gives such a wonderful number of options it was again hard to choose. However, the cocktail list should not be neglected. Piggyback is all about beer (over 40), bourbon and tequila—and they do it well.
I tried my best to save room for a least a taco or two—they're a signature dish of the restaurant—but was too stuffed to even fit in dessert. When I come back to check out the speakeasy-style lounge downstairs, I'll try those and report back.
Overall, the setting is right for a causal meal and a good time. I'd recommend bringing friends, if only so you can pass your plates and try a little of everything. The price is right, with entrees running at about $8-12 on average. With the lounge downstairs, it would be just the right kind of place to spend the whole night.
Piggyback is currently open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They'll be opening for lunch too starting on Friday, Dec. 7 at 11:30 a.m. Check back for brunch soon—it starts the weekend after!
Have you been to Piggyback? Tell us what you thought in comments below.