Big Poppa’s BBQ Has Popped Up At Another Loves Park Bar
Big Poppa's is definitely one of those "if you know you know" kind of establishments in town.
The real ones will remember his small shack in the old Logli's parking lot on the corner of N. 2nd and Harlem. I don't think I ever saw any sort of advertising when he was in the shack, it was all word of mouth, and that's all he really needed. The shack was usually busy, we even got a smoked turkey from him one year for Thanksgiving, it was delicious.
He was there for a few years before locking down his first brick and mortar location in the little strip mall on Forest Hills and River Lane. It was a nice little place, but the restaurant life is tough, and it eventually closed down.
The next place I spotted him was working out of the kitchen at Rocky's Bar and Grill on N. 2nd at the south end of Loves Park. Rocky's is a fine establishment and I don't have a problem going there for lunch, but it gets interesting waiting for your brisket among Rocky's Saturday night crowd. I'm sure they're all nice people, the just didn't really want some dork waiting for his meat to hang around at the end of the bar.
The food was great, so I kept on going. I was crushed when I walked in one Saturday afternoon, looking for some lunch when the bartender said that they were no longer partners. I asked "Do you know if he went somewhere else to work?" The bartender replied "The word on the street is that he's headed over to Tad's."
Tad's would be Tad's on the Rock, the dive-ish bar on the east side of the Rock River just off of Riverside in Loves Park. A "lunch at Tad's" was added to my to do list and I finally was able to cross it off the other day.
There's good and bad news for Big Poppa fans. The good news is that I was able to order a shredded pork sandwich with his signature sauce and it tastes just like you remember it. The bad news is that is the only thing he is currently serving. You can still get the rest of the regular menu at Tad's but the pork sandwich is the only thing from Big Poppa's...for now. Apparently they will slowly be integrating a lot more of his food into the menu, but for now it's just the pork sandwich.
I guess that just means I'll have to check in regularly to see if things have changed. It's a tough job.
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