Todd’s BBQ – Oak Lawn
Eating lunch at a grocery store. Not something most people get excited about it. Typically, I am one of those people. If I’m grocery shopping anyway, I may go to the deli and grab something to eat so I don’t have to make another stop. There are exceptions to that rule though and there are a few grocery store deli’s I have blogged about in the Kalamazoo area. This blog post though, is something completely different.
The Chicagoland area is seeing a new grocer pop up all over the place. Mariano’s Fresh Market is the newest line of stores from the Milwaukee based Roundy’s Supermarket chain. The current CEO of Roundy’s is a former CEO of Dominick’s stores in the Chicago area. The last Dominick’s store closed in early 2014 after years of struggles and Roundy’s picked 11 of the still open locations to turn in to Mariano’s. It wasn’t because they were bad stores, they were just typical grocery stores and those are a dime a dozen in Chicago. The new trend is towards more high end foods and bigger selections. Something Mariano’s hits is the more urban upscale demo.
The store at the corner of 111th Street and Cicero Avenue in Oak Lawn is the one closest to my in-laws and we typically stop in every time we are in town.
We were in town for L’s birthday last week and on Friday morning, L and her mom needed to run to Mariano’s to pick up some balloons for the little party we had before going to see Frozen on Ice. J figured I would just stay home and relax, but I asked if I could come along with the intention of picking up lunch.
Inside most Mariano’s is a pretty large food court. They have fresh sushi bars, brick oven pizzas, huge salad bars, the option to have meat grilled right at the meat counter for immediate consumption, and BBQ among other things. While J and her mom headed towards the salad bar, I headed towards BBQ.
Todd’s BBQ is a chain of BBQ restaurants inside many of the Mariano stores. The small counter serves up just a few options of brisket, pulled pork or ribs plus Mac & Cheese or beans for side. I was in the mood for beef, so I asked for the Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich and an order of Baked Macaroni & Cheese.
The sandwich is served on an onion roll and typically comes with pickled red onion. I asked for that to be left off as the sandwich was being assembled. I was shocked just how much meat the lady making my order was putting on. I watched her pull the whole packer’s brisket out of the warming case and start cutting and I assumed she must be cutting meat off for something else, but then she just kept stacking it. Once it was handed to me, I grabbed the bottle of Texas Sweet Heat BBQ sauce and lightly added some lines of sauce between a couple of the layers then I headed off to find the rest of my family to pay and find a table.
We ended up at a large butcher’s block table back by the BBQ stand to eat because the tables in the cafe area were all full. I had grabbed a Goose Island Root Beer to drink and popped the cap off that before I picked up the sandwich containing the melt in your mouth tender brisket. There was not fight with the meat. I easily tore off whether I was biting in to it or just ripping off from the sandwich. The small amount of BBQ sauce I added was just enough to give the sandwich a little bit of a sweet kick while not losing any of the smokey flavor.
The Baked Macaroni & Cheese was exactly the same as the Macaroni & Cheese that J picked up for L on the salad bar. It was creamy with a crunchy bread crumb topping. It was the perfect side to some really delicious meat.
My portion of the bill, minus the drink, came in right around $12 and it was a sandwich that is the price. You really don’t expect to get delicious BBQ inside a grocery store, but that’s exactly what you get with Mariano’s Fresh Market and Todd’s BBQ.