The renovated Dat Donut and Barbecue complex at 83rd & Cottage has been finished for some months now. This was the site of one of the Leon's Bar-B-Qs until it closed several years ago after a long decline. As I understand it, some of the old Leon's employees planned to open a new barbecue house under the Dat name.
But there's been an exciting development in the last month or so.Uncle John's
has taken over the barbecue part of the operation. Inside, the bright white tile and digital menu boards might be a little jarring to barbecue traditionalists.
This seems like a barbecue machine, its gleaming spacious kitchen and triple turntables capable of efficiently dispensing ribs, tips and links to large hungry crowds. I bet it will be something to see, with turntables whirring, on Super Bowl Sunday. No seating but you can eat at the counter in the donut shop (Would you like a Big Dat with that?).
The menu is similar to Uncle John's but with a few changes. Jerk rib tips are an interesting addition but thankfully the tip-link combos are still there, from lunch size ($6.25) to jumbo ($14.55). Here's the lunch combo.
Based on a single sample I'd say it's pretty close to the barbecue on 69th (somewhat variable itself). Links were crisp-skinned and juicy, with Mack's signature heavy spicing; tips were smoky and meaty, with a pleasant crust.
It's heartening to see some of Chicago's best barbecue get wider distribution.
Uncle John's Barbecue at Dat Donut
8249 S Cottage Grove Av
Mon-Thu 11am-midnight, Fri-Sat 11am-1am, Sun noon-10pm