In a part of town that is home to three barbeque joints, Lacy’s has some competition. Unlike the other two, Lacy’s serves Kansas City style barbeque. The restaurant is welcoming, and in good weather, the bright red umbrellas over the outdoor tables make Lacy’s one of the more festive outdoor seating arrangements in C-U.
The smell of smoky meats fills the restaurant and your nose. The restaurant features warm neutral paint colors and dark wood tables and chairs. There’s a television mounted in one of the ceiling’s corners; it seems as though it’s permanently tuned in to CNN. The menu is posted on the wall near the cash register, where you order your food. Beyond the counter is the kitchen.
Lacy’s menu features pretty standard barbeque fare, with a hint of Southern classics: ribs (full and half slabs), rib tips, chicken, turkey, brisket, pulled pork, and smoked polishes. Red beans and rice, tacos, and fish and chips are also available ($7.50-$8.95). Platters ($11.95 and up) and sandwiches ($7.95 and up) come with at least one side. Sides include baked beans, collard greens, mac and cheese, fries, potato salad, pineapple or cranberry coleslaw, candied yams, and cornbread ($1.75-$3.50). This isn’t a place for vegetarians.
The smoked Polish served Chicago style ($7.95) was pretty tasty. Served with some thinly sliced peppers and onions and doused in Lacy’s signature sticky sweet sauce, the Polish was more than enough for lunch. I’m not exactly sure about traditional-ness of the “Chicago style” description, but the veggies added a nice crunchy veggie-ness to the smoky sausage. The beans were sweet and smoky.
The rib tips ($9.95) were delicious: smoky and crunchy on the outside. These were the tasty treats that I so whole-heartedly enjoyed at Blues, Brews, and BBQ a few years back. The briny pepperoncini cut through the sweetness of the sauce. The mac and cheese side was flavorful and cheesy, but the pasta was overcooked. I’m hoping that it was a one-time thing, and that it’ll be a bit firmer next time I order it, because the flavor was good.
The beef brisket sandwich was my least favorite item ($9.95) I’ve sampled. I found the beef to be tough and lacking flavor. The burnt ends sandwich ($8.95), though, was delicious (pictured below the sides, on right). The meat was a little crunchy, but not overdone. The sweetness of the sauce worked with the smokiness of the meat, and it was really, really tasty. The cornbread side was a nice a complement to the meat. Lacy’s leaves the cornbread as is — no additions here — and it was a little sweet. The grill marks were not only nice looking, but also added a little bit of char that worked well with the meat and barbeque sauce.
I was a big fan of the candied yams, too. They were really well done, without being too sweet, or drowning in sweet syrup. Often times there’s too much added sugar in candied yams, but Lacy’s let the inherent sweetness of the potatoes carry the dish. The warm, earthy spices enhanced the sweet potato flavor without making it seem like a side of sweet potato pie filling.
You order at the register and someone brings out your food when it’s ready. My experience with the service has been positive; each time I’ve been everyone has been patient, nice, and willing to answer questions about what ingredients are in each dish. (For example, what’s the pineapple coleslaw about? It’s basically regular coleslaw with pineapple pieces and pineapple juice mixed in, so it adds some tangy sweetness. A friend very much enjoyed this side.) The wait for the food isn’t long, and you’re unlikely to have to wait long for a table, making Lacy’s high on the list of potential last-minute lunch or dinner locations in Urbana.
Lacy’s blends KC-style barbeque with a touch of Southern classics like mac and cheese, candied yams, and sweet tea ($2), making it a unique barbeque joint in C-U. There are beer and wine offerings, but no full bar. It’s easy to compare everything at Lacy’s with the other place on Broadway, but I don’t think that’s an entirely fair assessment — though I recognize that most folks will do so. If you haven’t already been to Lacy’s, I encourage you to check it out and see for yourself. Make a point of ordering the candied yams and the burnt ends — those two items are pretty darn good. In fact, make a point of going on Thursday nights when there’s live music; it’ll sweeten the meal.
Lacy’s BBQ is located at 119 W Main Street, Urbana, and is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 5 to 8 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. For more info, check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.
All photos by Jessica Hammie.