Posters of modern pinup girls, saucy baristas and a beer menu that'll let you travel the states without ever leaving your barstool are what you get at this Wrigleyville smokehouse. Chris Peckat, owner of The Ashland
and the recently closed Meritage Cafe & Wine Bar created his latest venture to please and feed the masses. The restaurant accomplishes this by offering a full menu of Buffalo Trace bourbon-smoked meats and hearty side dishes to pair with over 200 American craft beers.
Sink your teeth into a pulled-pork or brisket sandwich. Or nix the bread and try duck wings, turkey legs or baby-back ribs. The sauces here are so good you might be tempted to lick your plate clean, but hunks of grainy cornbread can help spare your dignity. Plates of smoked sliders and hand-cut fries are great for sharing. Add a few down-home side dishes like fried green tomatoes, coleslaw or mac n' cheese and don't forget to save room for dessert. Try the root beer float with an intoxicating twist; Risque Cafe skips the sarsaparilla in this childhood favorite and heads straight for the (8 Ball) stout.
Aside from oversize canvases of fleshy tattooed ladies, Risque doesn't offer much in the way of decor, but the tables full of gaping men don't seem to mind. Three flat screens above the beer-clad bar show old James Bond films, B-movies and the occasional Sex and the City re-run. And for true Chicagoans that just need a piece of pie with their beer, Peckat plans to open Purgatory Pizza next door.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Stacy Warden