Wilson's BBQ is one of those places you drive by, raise an eyebrow at, and then immediately forget about. On one hand it is barbecue, something this city certainly needs more of. But on the other hand the restaurant itself looks like it has been closed for decades.
If it wasn't for a small sign that blinks “open,” you may think that this one is a relic of better days. Luckily, it isn't.
Wilson's Bar-B-Q is still fully functional, and after several months of walking around the Mexican War Streets in the North Side, enduring day after day of the intoxicating aroma of barbecue, we were finally able to visit for an order from the limited menu.
Be Sure to Call Ahead to Place an Order
Apart from a few sides, your choice at Wilson's Bar-B-Q is very limited. I say this not as a negative, but to be completely honest as the menu is literally only two main items and four sides. There are ribs (which you can get a full rack, half rack, or third rack) and a chicken (which comes in a half bird only). Suffice it to say, it is an easy choice every single time.
The problem with Wilson's Bar-B-Q is that he is incredibly popular and most of his food gets reserved early on in the day.
After two attempts to try both the chicken and the ribs at dinner time, and only leaving with ribs, I asked what I needed to do to get a chicken and was told to call ahead. Not just 30 minutes ahead- six hours ahead. If you want to ensure you get to try both at Wilson's, you need to place your dinner order at around lunch time right when they open for the day.
I'm okay with that, even if it means we still have yet to try the chicken.
So let's talk about the ribs. After eating our way through a rack-and-a-half of Wilson's ribs, loaded up with his mild, medium, and hot sauces, we can safely say that this is not a place to mess around with. The medium has a fairly nice kick of heat that would compete with most barbecue place's hottest sauce, and the hot should not be consumed by the faint of heart.
The ribs themselves were tender on the inside, but the outside had a thick crust on many pieces that was somewhat chewy and harder to get through. On one hand the ribs are quite flavorful, but I also expect ribs to fall apart in my mouth when I bite into them. I would not say that this makes Wilson's ribs bad, I actually still find them to be quite delicious, but I can also see them not being for everyone- especially if you go in with different expectations.
Although the ribs are not perfect, Wilson's has us going back for more as you can't beat it on price and convenience. At around $13 for a half-rack of ribs, $24 for a full rack, $6 for the half-chicken we've yet to be able to order, and under $2 per side (try the coleslaw and collar greens) you can have a barbecue feast without breaking the bank.
For North Side residents like us, this is a luxury we cannot ignore.
Wilson's Bar-B-Q is located at 700 N Taylor Ave in the North Side's Mexican War Streets. If you are getting take-out for dinner, place your order ahead of time as you may leave empty handed otherwise.
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