Best Area BBQ: Piggyback Tavern

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By Morgan P. Davis

I love the dining options in Oak Park, but when my appetite craves deliciously dry rubbed barbecue, I head next door to Piggyback Tavern in Forest Park.

Piggyback, named one of the best barbecue restaurants in America by PR Newswire and Open Table Diner’s Choice, serves a Southern-inspired menu of flavorful appetizers, classic entrees, and craft brews. The decor is casual-rustic, with galvanized metal and distressed wood. The handsome space is finished with marquee-styled signs of the words tacos and bbq, which perfectly sum up all that is Piggyback. I particularly enjoy the oversized windows, connecting the space to the outdoors in the summer, and that all their beverages are served in mason jars.

So what makes their barbecue so delicious? Piggyback smothers their pork shoulders and baby back ribs in a dry rub of cumin, cayenne and paprika, among a few other spices. The brisket is treated simply with a dusting of salt and pepper. Next they smoke the pork and brisket for 10 to 12 hours while the ribs only need 3 to 4 hours to be just right.

On every table, you’ll find a variety of house-made sauces in squeeze bottles. The sauces draw on barbecue traditions from around the country, from Memphis to Carolina. The best part of having a variety of sauces is the mixing and matching to create your own blend of sweet and tangy flavors. My favorites are the Zesty and Smokey Sweet.piggyback photo-2

Every item on the menu packs great flavor, though my favorite is the BBQ Nachos. This appetizer consists of tortilla chips piled high with tender pulled pork, two types of cheeses, diced onions and peppers, pico de gallo, and their housemade Smokey Sweet sauce. For my entree, it is typically a toss-up between the pulled pork sandwich and beef brisket with a side of jalapeño-cheddar cornbread. All of the meats are moist and served in generous portions. The sides are equally impressive, including well-seasoned black beans, collard greens cooked with pork, fried green tomatoes served along sweet pickle remoulade, and creamy mac and cheese. I appreciate the fact that the sides aren’t afterthoughts.

After all that savory and smoky goodness, I recommend folks try the warm peach cobbler, baked in an individual cast iron pan. Consider ordering it a la mode to cool the pie and quench any residual heat from all that spicy sauce.

This little gem is not only for dine-in and carry-out, but they also deliver to Oak Park!

Now that you’re dying to try Piggyback Tavern, find them at 410 Circle Avenue in Forest Park. They are open Monday – Thursday from 11:30 AM – midnight; Friday from 11:30 AM – 1:00 AM; Saturday from 11:00 AM – 1:00 AM; and Sunday from 11:00 AM – midnight.