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Smoke Daddy Expansion Brings Bigger Digs, Southern-Style Brunch Menu

By Alisa Hauser | April 3, 2013 11:09am | Updated on April 3, 2013 1:34pm

WICKER PARK —  Just shy of its 20th year in Wicker Park, Smoke Daddy has doubled in size and joined the weekend brunch scene.

The barbecue joint mainstay at 1804 W. Division St. unveiled a sleek, natural light-filled modern  addition to its quarters Friday, which adds more table and bar seating, more beer taps, flat screen TVs, and — last but not least — more bathrooms.

Heralded in a news release as "a major development, not only to Smoke Daddy but also to the thriving Division Street dining and entertainment scene," the build-out of the 2,000-square-foot addition took six months and was designed by CBD Architects.

Whereas "old Smoke Daddy" could only accommodate 55 patrons, the addition — connected to the existing restaurant — seats 120, with 15 at a wraparound bar that extends to an outdoor patio.

Realtor Ken Dooley was eating at Smoke Daddy with his family Sunday in the new space, which he said "feels really open and much brighter" due to the tall skylight ceilings.

Once the weather warms up, the addition's floor-to-ceiling window pane garage door facing Division Street will open onto a sidewalk patio, too.

Smoke Daddy waiter Brandon Harvey said so far customers have told him they like '"the openness, the lighting" as well as the bigger bathrooms.

The changes are more than physical, as Smoke Daddy's menu is getting bigger, too.

In addition to its barbecue ribs, sandwiches and sides which it's been known for since opening in 1994, Smoke Daddy has added "healthy fare" items such as a Wrightwood salad, which comes by way of Dunlay's, another 4 Star Restaurant Group venture, and a chicken dip sandwich, from 4-Star's Crosby's Kitchen in Lakeview.

Both the Wrightwood Salad and the Chicken Dip Sandwich — praised by Chicago Magazine as being one of the best sandwiches in the city in 2012 — use rotisserie chicken from a new custom-made rotisserie displayed through Smoke Daddy's open kitchen window.

Beginning April 20, Smoke Daddy will offer a Southern-style brunch, too.

In a news release, 4-Star Restaurant Group owner Josh Rutherford said, "We want people in Chicago to always think of Smoke Daddy when they crave great barbecue or now, brunch ... at a fair price... in a fun, comfortable and friendly atmosphere."

The new brunch dishes include Southern standards like biscuits and gravy, as well as pulled pork benedict, using house smoked pork with a bacon chipotle hollandaise over poached eggs, and smoked brisket hash, made of tender brisket, bell peppers, onions and potatoes topped with two poached eggs.

On the sweeter side of the brunch menu are house-made monkey breadmade of a pull-apart cinnamon loaf topped with light cream cheese glazea fried peanut butter and banana sandwich with bourbon and vanilla, and iron skillet blueberry cornbread served hot with maple butter.

To wash everything down, Smoke Daddy will also offer mimosas and their house bloody mary  garnished with smoked brisket and pulled pork skewer and sidecar of beer.

In celebrating of the expansion,  Smoke Daddy will host a free "expansion grand opening" party for the public from 8 p.m.-11 p.m on April 18.

The gathering will include a complimentary tasting buffet of new and classic menu items and $4 draft beers as well as live music by The Special 20s, a Chicago blues band.

Smoke Daddy's weekend brunch is slated to begin April 20.  Brunch hours will be 10:30 a.m-3 p.m Saturdays and Sundays. Regular hours of operation are 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.