Shortly after we moved to DuPage County, my husband was lucky enough to win a gift card for the Wood Dale Sweet Baby Ray's restaurant in a raffle. So it was one of the first places we visited in town.
A quick history -- the man who created Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce is from Wood Dale. Back in the '90s, he sold his famous sauce formula to a national distributor but retained the rights to open four restaurants under the SBR banner in the Chicago area. So far he has opened two. The original Wood Dale location is fairly small, with seating for about 30 and a more limited menu; they do a lot of carryout and catering.
The Elk Grove Village location, at 800 E. Higgins Road, is a full-service restaurant with a bigger menu and a bar area. It's a cozy place, with a lot of highly polished wood.
We already knew the food was good, but we wanted to see if it would measure up. And oh, it did. The service was friendly and helpful; the menu extensive. They feature both traditional barbecue favorites like ribs and brisket and New Orleans-style cajun dishes.
Note that this is not a terribly vegetarian friendly place. (They do have one or two meatless salads, some fish, a meatless pasta dish and some vegetarian sides.) The meat is the star here. We started with pulled pork nachos, which sounds sort of weird, but is truly tasty. The meat was sweet, tangy and tender and went well with the cheesy, crunchy chips, beans and pico de gallo.
At this point, we knew we'd probably ordered too much food, but hey, then we had leftovers. Most of the dinners come with soup or salad, two sides AND cornbread. So I had my half a jerk chicken, plus salad, green chile mac and cheese, Tchoupitoulas potatoes, and cornbread. Ooof. The chicken was tender and flavorful (but not hot, actually), and the green chile mac and cheese is awesome.
My husband had soup, ribs, baked beans, french fries and cornbread. He had some leftovers, though not as many as me. :) He loves the ribs there and says they're the best he's ever had.
All in all, SBR is a fantastic addition to Chicago-area barbecue. They do their meat right and the sauce is pretty darn good (and I'm a snob for Kentucky barbecue, which has a less-sweet sauce). If you like your meat done right, SBR is the place to go.