Oddly Named Lakewood Eatery is Serving Up Some Damn Fine BBQ



The Gorilla (12102 Madison Ave., 216-221-0195) is small, seasonal and strictly take-away, but it manages to pack three different concepts under one roof. Set in the former Sugar Bear's Ice Cream shop in the Birdtown neighborhood of Lakewood, the diminutive operation specializes in hot dogs, barbecue and soft-serve ice cream.

In the hot dog category there are singles, doubles, foot-longs and chili dogs. Diners can customize their red hots from a list of a dozen or so add-ons or simply order a predesigned variety. The Hopkins Road ($2.25), for instance, is a hotdog topped with slaw and bacon. For a Chicago-style dog go with the Big Mouth ($3.50), which is dragged through the garden and topped with tomatoes, onions, alien relish and sport peppers.

The hotdogs are not earth-shattering, but the barbecue is more than worth the trip. Operating under the name BoBo’s Smokin’ BBQ, a separate menu offers sliders, sides and smoked meat by the pound. The Prime King ($5) should not be missed. Though it’s called a slider, this messy and delicious sandwich boasts a good quarter-pound of thick-sliced Texas-style smoked beef brisket. The beef is fatty, juicy, smoky and peppery, and it’s paired with Swiss cheese, pickled onions, horseradish cream sauce and BoBo’s Groovy BBQ sauce, made with Kentucky Bourbon, peach puree and espresso.

Another slider, the Hawaiian Hillbilly ($5), is stacked with honey-smoked boneless skin-on chicken thighs, pineapple and cheddar cheese.

On the day we visited, the weekly special was a quarter slab of meaty spare ribs, a bargain at $5. Sporting a thick and peppery bark, the juicy pink pork meat was tender, flavorful and plentiful.

Brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and smoked turkey are all sold by the pound.

The name, by the way, is a reference to the 10-foot tall gorilla sculpture that welcomes lunch and dinner guests.

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