Southern Style Barbecue Driving Distance From Lewis

David Ridderhoff, Sports Editor 

Chicago is known for its hot dogs and pizza and usually leaves the barbecue scene to southern cities such as Memphis or St. Louis. Despite that, there are still spots to get good barbecue food in the city and suburbs of Chicago. Luckily enough for Lewis University students, an underrated barbecue restaurant sits just a short drive down into Crest Hill, Fire Water BBQ.

Located on Weber, just as it turns into Larkin Ave, Fire Water sits at the corner of a strip mall with a sign facing Weber. Fire Water BBQ is known in the area for its great food and even better service to customers. The employees always seem genuinely happy to be at their job, and they greet every guest who walks in the door, sometimes having the entire kitchen staff screaming “Welcome to Fire Water!” from behind the counter. The friendly faces immediately make you feel like you’re not just a customer at a restaurant but a guest in their home. Most employees feel that hospitality is what sets them apart.

The smiling faces aren’t just for the kitchen and staff, though.  Staring at Fire Water’s large menu of barbecue options leaves even the most skeptical barbecue fan grinning. They have all of the normal barbecue cuisine such as ribs and pulled pork, while also having a portion of the menu with original items worth experimenting.

Rib tips and ribs are, as with almost any barbecue restaurant, the most ordered items on their menu. Rib tips are an item that it seems many top-notch barbecue restaurants overlook, but at Fire Water, they embrace their popularity and are always striving to make them the best they can be.

Whenever a customer order a full slab of ribs, you’ll know. The entire kitchen confirms the order by yelling “Full slab!” back to whoever is on register duty. The ribs are lathered in sauce and take up the entire tray, seeming to overflow onto the table even as you start taking ribs off the slab.

For my meal, I decided to try the South Sider, a sandwich that is piled high with both pulled pork and brisket. The sandwich is left dry, which is a blessing due to the four very tasty barbecue sauces on every table. Carolina Vinegar is a tangy sauce, Texas Heat brings a good taste with a nice kick, Georgia Mustard has a lighter color and is very savory, while Alabama White almost has the appearance of ranch dressing. I added quite a bit of Texas Heat to my sandwich and immediately loved the decision.

The sandwich features two meats that stand together so well, yet ultimately pair perfectly. The sandwich had a perfect ratio of pork to brisket, allowing you to still enjoy whichever of the two cuts you prefer.

The item that I also enjoyed that made me realize just how good of a restaurant Fire Water BBQ is, was their pulled pork cheese fries. Yes, cheese and pulled pork on a plate of fries. But not just those two components—a combination of multiple cheeses and barbecue sauces make this large plate of fries an entire meal that nobody at my table could finish. It is honestly one of the most enjoyable dishes I’ve ever been able to sit down and eat at a restaurant.

The sides are also very well made. I enjoyed beer battered onion rings and 3-cheese mac, both of which were top notch. The 3-cheese mac had a bit of a spicy kick in the sauce that made the cheese stand out even more.

Overall, Fire Water BBQ lives up to their motto, “The flavors and traditions of southern style BBQ, perfected in the Windy City.” While you won’t see the restaurant on the Travel Channel, it’s worth the 10-minute drive off campus to sit down for an enjoyable barbecue at a reasonable price for the quality of food. If you would like to try Fire Water BBQ for yourself, bring in this article and receive 10 percent off of your purchase.

Fire Water BBQ provides this experience at a reasonable cost. Quite honestly, it’s my favorite restauarant in the Romeoville area, I could eat there every day and never get tired of the great barbecue food being served. Not only do I highly recommend it, I tell you that if you like barbecue and want to try something new, the pulled pork cheese fries are worth the drive themsevles. The hospitality and other great menu items all just add the cherry on top of the barbecue sundae.

David Ridderhoff is a junior Radio/TV broadcast major. He is the sports editor for The Flyer. He is also the general manager of Lewis’ radio station, WLRA. As an avid sports fan, he also collects hats and jerseys from a variety of sports teams.

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