Russell's Barbecue, Elmwood Park

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Tonight, we journeyed to Russell's Barbecue, 1621 N. Thatcher Ave., a recommendation courtesy of WGN-AM radio personality Nick DiGilio. He described it was an institution. The restaurant's take-out menu says it's been a family tradition since 1930. This was a nice diversion, since I tend to get caught in my routines, including regular trips to the very trendy Smoque BBQ, 3800 N. Pulaski, for the sliced brisket sandwich and must-have macaroni and cheese (I'd eat the foil cup it's served in if I didn't think it would hurt my silver fillings), and Fat Willy's Rib Shack, 2416 W. Schubert, for the pulled pork sandwich. Time to branch out -- even if it means leaving the city.

The chopped pork sandwich comes highly recommended but it was the beef sandwich, cut the same as the pork, that hit th spot. Served on a hamburger bun with a side of fries and a small cup of coleslaw, both sandwich "dinner" combos are $5.99. Chicken and salmon sandwiches also are on the menu. As far as I could tell, the sandwiches were served dry or almost dry (meaning no sauce) and it tastes perfectly fine that way. But I couldn't help but try the sweet, tangy and very thin sauce. It's decent. But the cholesterol-raising star here are the chicken-nugget sized macaroni-and-cheese wedges. Eight of these deep-fried babies will set you back $3.50. Next time -- and there will be a next time, because it's not often I get to dine below a wagon-wheel chandelier -- I'll try the ribs. And maybe I'll bring some friends since there's plenty of parking and the wood-paneled dining rooms here go on forever.
To learn more about this and the Rolling Meadows location, including the menu, go to

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