Gugg's Roadhouse serves up barbecue, beer and a lot more
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Dan and Linda Guggenheim took over Adina's in December and started updating the menu and eatery, which sits off Route 45 in Vernon Hills. In April they changed the spot's name to Gugg's Roadhouse, giving locals a place to sit down and have a beer and some great barbecue.
Motif: The dining room's décor is simple, with checkered red and white tablecloths, signs advertising beer and spirits, and two TVs that broadcast music during dinner but play football on Sundays. A stained glass barrier separates the dining area from the bar, which has two more TVs that can be used to show games. A patio strung with lights and lined with plants is equipped with heat lamps and a fireplace and two 46-inch TVs tuned to sports.
Gugg's Roadhouse906 U.S. Route 45, Vernon Hills, (847) 918-9060, guggsrestaurant.com
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Crowd: The space primarily draws diners in their 40s and up, though Gugg's has been trying to appeal to a younger crowd with the addition of craft beers. Fridays are jammed, sometimes getting to standing room only, but Saturdays are quieter. Football Sundays have also been busy bringing in plenty of Bears and Packers fans to enter a weekly drawing for a trip to Las Vegas.
Food: Dan Guggenheim spent years as a competitive barbecue chef and is putting his experience to delicious use at Gugg's. Everything is made from scratch, including the dry rub and sauces, and the meat is smoked outside. Ribs are the specialty. You can call a day ahead to order the drunken chicken, though the signature dish is on special every three weeks. The super-tender meat is drenched in a spicy barbecue sauce, though you can also order it with a vinegary Alabama white barbecue sauce. The sides are also tasty, whether you're getting the crispy hand-cut fries, sweet baked beans or the crunchy house-made pickles and coleslaw.
The menu has changed three times since April as Guggenheim experiments with the right mix of dishes. He plans to introduce more barbecue dishes like hot links, but he's also kept around items like the Grecian skirt steak to cater to diners who started coming to the space in its past incarnations. Gugg's is also offering a special sausage platter for Oktoberfest, serving beer bratwurst and cheddarwurst with a different side each week such as red cabbage or German potato salad.
Liquid consumption: The bar offers all the standard domestic brews along with a rotating selection of five craft beers from breweries such as Boulevard Brewing Co. and Dogfish Head. Gugg's works with wine distributors to bring in bottles you won't find in stores and offers a premium reserve list where you can get a glass or bottle of high-end wines. The bar carries 16 scotches, offering both blended and single malts priced at $7 to $18. The Sunday Bloody Mary bar has been a hit with the football crowd. And you can indulge your sweet tooth with an after-dinner drink like a blend of Kahlua and Rumchatta.
Service: Our server was very friendly and knowledgeable, going over the entire menu with us while recommending his own favorites and popular dishes. When we asked about a new addition to the beer menu that he hadn't tried yet, he brought us a sample so we could taste for ourselves.
Parking: There are plenty of spots in the bar's free lot.
Overall: Barbecue lovers should be sure to come to Gugg's Roadhouse hungry. Then, if they like, they can wash down the hearty fare with a cold brew or two.
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