Chicago officially gets a Dinosaur Bar-B-Que location today at 4 p.m. Here are nine things to know about the uber-popular New York-based chain's first Midwestern location:
1) The Chicago location is the ninth Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and the first outside the northeast. The tenth location is slated to open this summer in Baltimore. Dino began in 1983 as a mobile concession stand before opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Syracuse in 1988.
2) The Weed Street location, just southwest of the North and Clybourn shopping corridor and directly across the street from sports bar and country music venue Joe's Bar, was once a pump manufacturing plant and previously housed nightclubs Zentra and Mask. But you won't be able to tell; a gut rehab gives the space a completely new look and feel, complete with wafting blues music.
3) The large (12,686 square-feet), two-level space seats 168 in the first-floor dining room, main bar area, and "spill-over" room. The second floor, which houses a second kitchen, eight smokers and will host live music, will open to the public at an undetermined later date.
4) The Chicago location is the first Dinosaur Bar-B-Que to include a beer garden. The 48-seat outdoor space is beyond the east wall, with picnic tables shaded by trees, and will open when weather allows. When it and the second floor are open, the restaurant's total number of seats balloons to 342.
5) Dinosaur Bar-B-Que made its Chicago debut at the Windy City Smokeout last July, serving brisket and smoked chicken wings alongside local and out-of-town barbecue standouts Bub City, Smoque, The Salt Lick, Pappy's Smokehouse, Myron Mixon and ChicagoQ at the barbecue and country music festival.
6) While the St. Louis-style ribs, chicken wings, and brisket are Dinosaur's best-known menu items, the Chicago location will unveil a few new dishes: hacked jerk ribs, pork 3-way, pulled lamb shoulder, fermented cole slaw that's reminiscent of kimchee, and more.
7) Owner John Stage is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and many of his restaurants have a motorcycle theme. The Chicago location, however, has minimal nods to motorcycling.
8) The walls are decorated with original murals and palette artwork by Elliott Mattice, an artist that has worked with Dinosaur Bar-B-Que before. One mural to the left of the main bar depicts a street-race scene on North Avenue, inspired by Chicago street racers of decades ago.
9) It is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week after dinner service today.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 923 W. Weed Street, Website.