Sweet Baby Ray's Smokehouse, Bourbon & Beer - Wrigleyville - Chicago
In 1985, Larry Raymond perfected a family recipe for a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce and entered it into the Mike Royko RibFest. He dubbed the sauce after his little brother, Dave, nicknamed "Sweet Baby Ray," and won second place out of 700 entrants.
The sauce's success prompted Dave Raymond to bottle it, and he began peddling it to small mom-and pops and local groceries, knocking on doors and grilling on the sidewalk to spread the word. It worked. Today, Sweet Baby Ray's is the no. 1 premium sauce in grocery sales, with more than a 40-percent market share in Chicago. In 2003, Raymond sold the sauce business to its longtime manufacturer, Massachusetts-based Ken's Foods, which still maintains a Chicago address for the brand.
Rather than retire, however, Raymond launched Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue restaurant in Wood Dale in 2005, following it with a second location the next year. The Wood Dale location is a counter-service barbecue joint, serving hand-pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, baby back and St. Louis ribs and smoked chicken, all slathered with Chicago's favorite Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce, plus a selection of sandwiches, while the larger Elk Grove restaurant has table-service, an expanded menu including steaks and Cajun fare, and a full bar with live music.This third location offers the award-winning ribs and other favorites, a host of recipes created just for this site, a carefully curated bourbon list and an extensive craft beer list.