Female. Lives in United States/Illinois/Chicago, speaks English. My interests are Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking/Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.
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United States, Illinois, Chicago, English, Female, Food, Restaurants, Cooking, Baking, Travel, Dining Out, Raising Children.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Great Barbeque in the Burbs: Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe

I know what you're thinking. You took one look at the photo above and you can't imagine how a place with a goofy sign like that could be good. That's kind of what Win and I thought when we walked into Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe last week, but we were thrilled to find out how tasty the food really is.

Chuck's was recommended to Win by a colleague who felt strongly enough about the place that he felt it worth us using one of our precious and few childless nights out to experience it. So we hopped into the car and headed to Burbank, IL to check it out.

Chuck's exterior is nothing fancy and the neon beer signs hanging in the window give it a really casual feel. The inside is very clean, but modest, and decorated with both Mardi Gras and Southwestern themes to capture the two kinds of cuisine in which they specialize. Booths line the walls and tables fill the center of the room. Now I'll have to explain right upfront why I don't have any photos of Chuck's excellent food. This is a very down-to-Earth, casual place that seemed to have an equally casual and down-to-Earth clientele. When Win and I arrived, all the booths were taken and the only tables up for grabs were right in the center of the room. For much of our meal, we were the only ones sitting in the center of the room so whipping out a camera to take photos of every course would have inevitably drawn some stares from the others in the dining room just trying to enjoy their meals. I've whipped out a camera in a lot of dining rooms, but I just felt it would have been too much of a spectacle at Chuck's this time around. Hard to ignore the lone crazy woman in the middle of the room with her flash going off every few minutes.

Our server greeted us warmly and showed us their wine, beer and drinks list. I tried their Dogfish Head Chicory Stout. This was a unique and delicious beer made with a touch of chicory and Mexican coffee. I really could taste those flavors in the beer, in a pleasant, balanced way.

Chuck's menu changes frequently and they have several daily specials. As I mentioned, their menu is a compilation of Mexican and Southwestern fare, Southern barbeque and Southern-style food, and classics like burgers, sandwiches, and pastas. I was in the mood for Mexican that night, so I opted to start my meal with a cup of Chuck's Red, an amazing Mexican chili with meat and beans, topped with sour cream and tortilla strips. This chili was outstanding...full of flavor, perfectly spiced and so hearty and satisfying. Great way to start my meal. Win opted for one of Chuck's daily specials, the Chorizo Surtidas. This was a sampler of three homemade sausages, including:

1. Chorizo, flavored with ancho and pasilla chiles
2. Chorizo Verde, a garlicky sausage with jalapeno, parsley and cilantro, and
3. Longaniza, a Yucatecan style smoked sausage flavored with achiote and sweet spices.

These sausages were terrific. Absolutely beautiful and homemade with high quality meat. The trio of sauces that accompanied them was delightful and one was extremely spicy. Win loved this delicious and beautifully presented appetizer.

For our main course choices, I went with Barbeque Nachos. This was a large nacho platter with melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream, peppers, tomatoes, and pulled pork and pulled chicken. The pulled meats worked really well with the Mexican flavors and it was a nice dish.

Win stayed true to his Southern roots and selected the Super Sampler of barbeque specialties. For his sampler, he selected 3 ribs, a quarter barbequed chicken, and pulled pork. He also got to choose two side dishes and he went with Brunswick stew and mashed potatoes and gravy. This was some meal. Chuck's portions are generous and each component in the sampler was well-prepared, flavorful and delicious. Win commented that the pulled pork was nicely dressed in barbeque sauce and that he didn't even need to add additional sauce from the bottle on the table, which is rare.

Chuck's portions are very generous, so we ended up taking a lot of food home and not having room for dessert. Their desserts looked amazing though and I would have ordered the peach cobbler in a minute if I had any stomach space left.

If you have occasion to be in Burbank, IL you should check out Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe. It's an unassuming place---nothing fancy---but the food is the real deal. Delicious, authentic food that's well-prepared. I can see why Chuck's has received accolades from Chicago Magazine and Chicago's ABC 7 News. Servers are friendly and efficient and the vast menu provides something for everyone in your party.

Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe
5557 W. 79th Street
Burbank, IL 60459
Telephone: 708-229-8700
Web Site: http://www.chuckscafe.com

Next time At Our Table: A birthday celebration with one of Chicago's culinary innovators