Earlier this summer, the Chicago Traveler visited CHOP just before it opened to serve shoppers and residents of the Roosevelt Collection. This time around we visited CHOP owner Jovanis Bouargoub’s original restaurant concept: Porkchop.
Porkchop serves a variety of southern-inspired barbecue at four locations—for this article, we were at the Randolph location right on “restaurant row.”
While Porkchop has its fair share of high-end restaurant neighbors, the vibe is “dive casual.” When you first walk in and see the bar with its backlit bottles and hanging Ball mason jar lights, it feels like you’ve walked into your favorite local watering hole. The restaurant itself has more of a barn/slaughterhouse kind of vibe with dead animal heads on the walls and a very cool wall of floating saws that divides the two main dining areas—Porkchop could easily do a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-themed Halloween party.
This is the kind of place where napkins are a roll of brown paper town on the table, so Porkchop is definitely a place to come when you want a low key evening. On a Thursday night, the place was pretty quiet so I don’t imagine it’s ever too hard to get a table here.
Food & Drinks
What Porkchop really excels at is variety in both their food and drink menus. Drink wise there was a massive selection of craft beer, booze, and cocktails. To start off, I ordered a Memphis Mule, a Jack Daniels whiskey twist on the traditional Moscow Mule. Served in the traditional copper mug, the Memphis Mule was refreshing while offering a nice kick from the whiskey-ginger beer combo.
Memphis Mule cocktail at PorkchopThe food menu is also quite in-depth. Barbecue pork definitely plays a big part, though there’s plenty of variety like burgers and fried chicken if BBQ isn’t your thing. Salads are on the menu, though I don’t imagine vegetarians will be all that comfortable with the dead animal décor. Prices are appropriate for the area—a little on the high side—but all the portions did seem to be pretty substantial.
Mac ‘n Cheese
For an appetizer, I went with the Mac ‘n Cheese, piled high in a bowl with pulled pork on top (you have the choice of different meats or no meat at all). The Mac ‘n Cheese was of the wet and gooey style and may inspire some nostalgic feelings of the way your parents prepared Mac ‘n Cheese for you as a kid.
On the recommendation of my server, I went with the pork ribs as a main course—a barbecue staple. The menu proffers a choice between half and full slabs; I found the half slab, which also comes with fries and cole slaw, to be more than enough. The ribs had a nice char and smoky flavor and come topped with a mildly sweet BBQ sauce.
Porkchop doesn’t seem to be a place that likes to drown their food in barbecue sauce, they definitely leave it a bit on the “dry” side, but do provide an assortment of sauces for you to add to your entrée. These range from sweet to spicy to vinegar-based sauces.
Rum Raisin Bread Pudding
Porkchop serves a lot of heavy food that will easily fill you up, but I felt compelled to get dessert for you, the fans out there. Bread pudding seemed a bit of an unusual choice for a BBQ restaurant, yet oddly compelling. I thought this was exceptional—the texture is warm and soft and rich with flavor. There’s the alcoholic rum taste mixing with cinnamon and the sweet raisins– plus, chocolate and cherry sauces on top with vanilla ice cream to the side. It was rich and decadent, but not overly filling.
The West Loop and Randolph Street, in particular, is filled with incredible restaurants, but let’s face it: you’re not going to Girl in the Goat or waiting in line for hours at Au Cheval every week. Porkchop will hit the spot when you’re looking for a casual, filling meal in the neighborhood and don’t want to wait– or grab a craft beer right before heading out for a night on the town.
941 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607