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Russells Bbq - 28 Reviews - 1621 N Thatcher Ave, Elmwood Park, IL - Local Favorite Reviews - Phone (708) 453-7065

Russells Bbq

1621 N Thatcher Ave
Elmwood Park, IL 60707
(708) 453-7065
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When I was a child, a trip to Russell's was an exciting treat. Now I live much farther away but sometimes I just have to make the trip to assuage my craving. Their barbecue sauce ...


I've been going to Russell's for over 15 at 2 locations. Always brought there by a friend I used to work with. And I always come away with the same feeling.... I want ...


After 25 years absence from russels,we were in the area,and decided to grab a bite,what a terrible dissapointment,the beef sandwich meal shrunk 50%,and charged more money,my wife ordered a full slab of ribs that were tasteless,and burnt to a crisp,this is not the russells i remember,we paid a lot of money for terrible food,i would not recomend this place to anyone,i would""t go back there if they gave me free food for the rest of my life,terrible experience,the person that takes your order is very rude more

ewww 5/31/2010

this place is gross. i know for a fact they have roaches! my friend used to work there and told me. they are really dirty, they have so much garbage piled up in the back. don't go here unless you like to eat bugs! Pros: parking Cons: bugs more

It's a shadow of what it once was 5/1/2009

Russell?s BBQ in Elmwood Park was my first dining experience I can recall from my childhood. I fell in love with BBQ as a result, and have spent all of my adult life refining my skills as a BBQ pit master. There are many regional BBQ?s, and most every fan of the ?Q? has a favorite style, but good ?Q?, even if not one?s favorite, is still good. Prior to leaving the Chicago area in ?06, my wife and I went to the Elmwood Park location for one last time, knowing our return to Chicago was going to be infrequent. As per normal, the ribs and pork sandwiches were wonderful, and the distinctive sauce was tasty. We returned to Chicago in ?09, and decided to stop at the Rolling Meadows location (which we have frequented many times) for a quick lunch before our flight ? WHAT A DISASTER!!! The meat was dry, and the sauce was terrible. I was wondering if the Rolling Meadows location was under new ownership ? I questioned if it was still affiliated with the original Russell?s. For decades, Russell?s was always consistent ? event when they had three locations. Well, in reading the reviews, it seems the Elmwood Park location also has lowered their standards. New ownership?? Nothing is forever, but it?s sad when an iconic restaurant which has generational follower-ship exists in name only? I?ll go again ? for the memories? Not to eat. Pros: The memories. Cons: The food. more

Don't waste your time! 2/22/2009

After reading all the the reviews and hearing how good this place should be, I was more than disappointed. THIS IS NOT GOOD BBQ AT ALL. I ordered the so-called famous beef sandwich... truly tastless and dry. I also tried a FULL slab of their boiled ribs. If you call this good bbq then by all means keep going there, but if you want real bbq it is not to be found here. The coleslaw is the worst I've ever tasted. more

Why go there 2/8/2009

Owners' s*ck. They don't know how to treat their employees. Bad business people who are milking the place for all it is worth for their own personal gain. In the little time these people have owned it they changed far too much. Now tell me, would you want to eat at a place like that? I for sure don't. Cons: Owners more

Cinnamon?? 1/15/2009

I have to admit, we haven't been here in AGES, but on a lunch date with friends we happened upon Russells again. I ordered my standard, chicken and was in for a really bad experience. Having just had Sweet Baby Ray's two nights before...I now know good barbecue. My chicken was covered in a sauce filled with little brown specks. It took nearly 15 minutes to place the flavor I was getting, and that was cinnamon. It was awful! I know others swear by Russells in the bbq community, I used to be one, but no more. I actually dipped my napkin in my water glass to try to wash off as much sauce as I could. I guess it's just something I never noticed before--but once you get good barbecue, it's really easy to taste when something falls short. I won't be back! Pros: No line...No wait. Cons: Cinnamon BBQ Sauce?? more


There is no restaurant that everyone likes. Some people love Fords, others a Chevy. I have seen some very mean spirited reviews of Russells. There are many kinds of BBQ, such as the Rendesvous in Memphis, or Bodacious BBQ in Texas, or Bubbalou's in Orlando, Florida. Each are different types of BBQ. Each are excellent in their own way. To suggest that Famous Dave's is better than Russels is absurd. Bad BBQ is in abundance all over the nation. There are many different styles. Memphis dry ribs, North Carolina, St. Louis baby backs, Kansas City, or Texas. Russell's has been around since the 1920's. You might also consider the Butler Inn, just outside Milwaukee in Butler, Wisconsin. Pros: It's good BBQ. Cons: It is not society dining. It's for ""folks"" fingers sticky folks. more

barbecue 11/30/2007

Been coming here from the 60's until the orginal owners had to sell due to illness. Was very good at that time. Now the present owners are riding on past laurels. Living now in a state that does not have good to excellent food I look forward coming back to Chicago every 3-4 months for some old favorites that I use to enjoy. This place has been off my list for at least 5 years............So sad Pros: Service is fast Cons: food more

I'm a convert 7/17/2007

I've never liked barbecue ever. But for some reason I like Russells (though twin Anchor's also get's my thumbs up). My other half is always very eager for a road trip to Elmwood park, he's no dummie! It's not fancy, it's just plain ol' food that tastes good at a reasonable price. If if wasn't so good there wouldn't be lines or a wait. People in Chicago have way too many great options to waste their time on bad food. Our fav is the pulled pork with extra sauce... yum! Pros: great food, price, parking, location more

It is what it is and we love it. 6/5/2007

When I was a child, a trip to Russell's was an exciting treat. Now I live much farther away but sometimes I just have to make the trip to assuage my craving. Their barbecue sauce is unique (at least in my experience) so don't go with expectations of it being just like any other favorite you may have. In fact, if you are new to Russell's, put aside whatever preconceptions you may have about what ""real"" barbecue or barbecue sauce ""should"" be. It's bound to be different from what you expect but you still may love it just like so many of us ""old-timers"" do. Pros: Unique and delicious! Cons: Too far away to go as often as we'd like. more

Don't Bother - Fake Bar-be-que, and not even a good fake! 5/13/2007

If you want boiled, baked ribs, then this is the place for you. I have had Lems, Coleman's, Joes, Famous Daves, Robinsons, Kennys, The Rib Joint, and Barbara Anns, and this place does not rank among any of them! The ribs are not smoked or grilled - they are boiled and baked! The meat is fatty and not seasoned. The sauce tastes like 'watered-down' Open Pit, and it does not stick to the meat at all!!! After all the fancy newspaper and TV reviews, I came here with great expectations! It is Mother's Day, 2007, and mom was looking forward to some good down-home ribs! What a let down! We would have done much better with ribs from a TV dinner! If you want even half-way decent ribs, don't go here. Pros: Close to home and came with good reviews - don't always believe what you hear Cons: It was horrible! A waste of money. Will never go back. more

Good food...Good atmosphere 4/26/2007

I have been going to Russell's since I was old enough to walk. We always have and will continue to make it a family tradition to go there whenever we're in the area. They have good food (I reccomend the bbq sandwiches, crab cakes and their sauce of course) and fast, friendly service. I think for many people though they keep going back for the nostalgia and to step back in time. I know for me at least whenever we go I like to sit outside at their picnic tables where my grandmother would love to sit! Pros: Good food, nice atmosphere Cons: None! more

OVERRATED!!!!!! 4/25/2007

I have lived near this restaurant my whole life and all I hear is how good it is. I have had it about 15 different times in my 30 years of existence and every time it is no good. The sandwiches are ALWAYS dry, the sauce is no good, the ribs are dry and not tender, and the service is rude. This place is all nostalgia and no taste. All the positive reviews are ""I've been coming here for years"" maybe 70 years ago this was good bbq but that is not the case today. So please if you have never been here before and expect good BBQ look another direction. Pros: Not that expensive Cons: Its not good more

BBQ sauce to die for. 9/9/2006

If I wouldnt be shunned for it, Id drink it right from the bottle, its that good! I've been going for years, and always get the beef. It is perfection. The staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is fun and laidback. You sit where you please, And the BBQ sauce is neverending. I just wish i could still get a token for the machine. Oh, and try the chocolate shakes... Mmm Mmm. more

I've been coming here 58 years so far... 10/17/2005

No, Russells is NOT the same as all the other BBQ places. They have a thin sauce compared to many, but after going there 58 years, it is the best and brings back wonderful memories. I love the pork sandwich, and pile on the sauce, also dipping my fries into the sauce. And, yes, I bring back a bottle or two every time I get back there. It is mostly the same as 40 years ago, still making great BBQ. No great decorations, not a fancy place, but just good food. Try it, you'll become a regular! more

Not too each its own 2/18/2005

I thought the barbecue here was terrible. I never had a sauce that tasted so wierd. However the ribs were tender. The sauce just ruined the taste. Pros: tender ribs Cons: gross sauce more

deja vu 5/24/2004

Russell's is a fun and nostalgic place. I was satisfied with my meal and had fun listening to the jukebox and talking with my friends, but i couldn't help but feel deja vu the moment i tasted the sauce. Suddenly, I was back in the 7th grade cafeteria, biting into my ""ribwich."" Not to say that the sauce was bad, it was just not what I consider authentic bbq. If you go with an open mind, you will have a good time no matter what your authentic bbq sauce tastes like. Pros: atmosphere, jukebox, nostalgia more

Not barbecue! 5/5/2004

I cannot call Russell's BBQ. BBQ style ....o.k. But not BBQ. What's missing???? The smoke. I could be wrong , but I don't remember smelling smoke. You must have hardwood flavor for BBQ. They must roast or grill their food. They don't put it in a pit or smoker. I was so embarassed when I recommended this place to an associate (from Memphis here in Chicago on business) for lunch. I only did it because I'd heard(not actually visited )this place. Memphis knows real BBQ. My associate laughed at but ate there with me. Needless to say ,I'll never go again. If you want ""BBQ like"" or ""BBQ style ""food, go to Russell's. more

Editorial Review Almost Right 11/5/2003

I grew up on this joint. Now I live 3000 miles away and have NO SUBSTITUTE. The Editorial dissed the slaw as ""weak"". NO WAY! This slaw is most unique and true Russell's fans crave it as much if not more than the sauce. I agree however that the O-rings are excellent but should be added to the meal. Not used as a substitute! Pros: Food, Consistency, The Sauce Cons: Only in Chicago Area more

What Is The Meat? 8/17/2003

Entering Russell's we expected to eat one of the best bar-b-que restaurants in Chicago. We order a slab of ribs and a pork sandwich. The service was quick and we sat down to enjoy our bar-b-que. We poured on the sauce and dug in. After one bite of the pork sandwich we asked, ""What Is The Meat?"" The pork was dry, no flavor, and tasted like processed meat. We did not finish half the sandwich. First bite into the ribs we asked, ""How can someone mess up ribs?"" The ribs had no flavor, dry, and fatty. The sauce could not save the ribs or sandwich. The slaw, we will not even go there. Not able to eat the ribs, pork sandwich or slaw we tried the fries. Even the french fries had very little flavor and were soggy. Pros: Good Parking, Inexpensive, Not Crowded Cons: No Flavor, Dry Meat, Bad Sauce more
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Menu for Russells Bbq

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  • In Short
    Old-timers who dined at Russell's when it opened in the 1930s now introduce younger generations to this local favorite, where guests order at the counter and find a seat in one...

  • 5/18/2006 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Payments:

    Master Card, Visa
  • Neighborhoods:

    Elmwood Park