Chicago’s Best Barbecue Restaurants

Де в Чикаго найсмачніші вуджені реберця?

… а також шинки, ковбаски, курячі ніжки, крильця та інші делікатеси

Якраз перед Великоднем вуйко Петро робив вуджене м’ясо “на свєта”. До цього благородного діла він нікого не підпускав, мені тільки було відомо, що ковбаси-шинки-кури мусіли “доходити до кондиції” в диму зі справжньої вишні.

Смак доброї вуженини, яка ніколи не була ні гіркою, ні чорною від диму, а навпаки – ніжною, у міру закопченою та надзвичайно смачною, добре пам’ятаю й до цього часу.

Тому, перед самими Великодніми святами ми вирішили розшукати для вас, дорогі друзі, в Чикаго ресторації з найсмачнішими копченими стравами, так зване барбекю.

Переможцями нашої дегустації стали:

Honky TonkHonky Tonk Barbecue

1800 S Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

(312) 226-7427

Success on the competition circuit and local festivals prompted Willie Wagner to set up a permanent home for his “Memphis-style,” dry-rubbed barbecue in Pilsen. The smoky pulled pork clocks in at one of the best around. Tender, juicy chicken comes in second for best bets, with puckery slaw and meaty beans right behind it. Make a night of it with the lively bands that play in the attached bar on the weekends.

Pilsen’s smoked meats mecca is a Wild West-decked spot from pitmaster Willie Wagner. Wagner honed his skills on the competition circuit before finding a permanent home on the South Side, where he’s serving up Memphis-style dry-rubbed barbecue. Chow on brisket, baby back and St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken and more but make sure you don’t skip the pulled pork as it ranks among the city’s best. Snack on candy bacon while you wait, take in some live music and enjoy a real honky tonk experience.

Smoque BBQSmoque BBQ

3800 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago IL 60641

 (773) 545-7427

Barry, and his uncle, Al, own and operate this fine BBQ in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood. Don’t miss it.  The food is spectacular, prices very reasonable, service is very good and the restaurant is unpretentious; painted cinderblock walls and concrete floor. I did mention the spectacular food, right?
Ribs and pulled pork are the house favorites, but everything I tried in my visit was excellent.  It’s all served with your choice of sauces, some rather mild jalapeno slices, fries and cole slaw if you want them.  Brisket is the item that most BBQs find difficult to get right, but here it’s tender, tasty, wonderfully cooked to perfection. Like everything I ate, pulled pork was only lightly seasoned, letting the charred bits and juicy strips of shoulder speak for themselves. Canned pork-and-beans get gussied up with caramelly onions, while creamy mac and cheese gets a perfectly simple crust of bread crumbs.

There is frequently a wait for seating, but not too long, and well worth it.  You’ll be glad you ate here.

Twin AnchorsTwin Anchors Restaurant-Tavern

1655 N. Sedwick St. (at Eugenie St.) Chicago, IL 60614

(312) 266-1616

Twin Anchors, a Chicago original since 1932, is almost as famous for its love affair with Frank Sinatra as its’ ribs. Twin Anchors was Sinatra’s kind of restaurant and he always made a point to stop by with his buddies when he was in town. Not unlike many other celebrities, politicians and average Joe’s that haunt this down-home eatery – as the photo covered walls bear witness. Although the menu offers many choices, if you want a true taste of Chicago – go for the ribs.

Ribs here are slow baked in a “special” oven until the meat droops lifelessly in the classic Chicago fall-off-the-bone fashion. Also, steak was delicious, as well as succulent grilled shrimp, the fish fry, and the crisp, greaseless onion rings.

At popular times, especially weekends, be ready to stand in line – reservations not taken. Take-out is available. Lunch, Saturdays and Sundays, Dinner nightly.

936140_921346881297204_9028128484555656735_nBig Bricks

3832 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

(773) 525-5022

The Oyler Pit, a legendary wood-burning rotisserie barbecue smoker, is not often seen outside of Texas. So it’s surprising that the one in use at Big Bricks, the North Center pizza/barbecue joint from Bricks owner Bill Brandt, received so little fanfare.

Or perhaps not: Oyler or no, this one is putting out unexceptional barbecue. It’s not a crime in the least, but the thickly rubbed ribs – which produce a nice spicy bark – are nonetheless very hammy, almost cured-tasting, and somewhat mealy, as if they’ve been overcooked, though they don’t seem to take on a terrific amount of smoke flavor.

The pulled pork picks up none whatsoever, though it certainly is juicy, almost as if it’s been braised. Chicken, however, seemed to take to its massage pretty well, its relatively delicate flesh absorbing a nice amount of smoke, while still maintaining its juiciness. Another nice thing, the beans are positively loaded with that pulled pork. I’d be happy with a big old bowl of those.

12764534_914013168697242_3681023442911092244_o Honey 1 BBQ

2241 N. Western Ave.

(773) 227 5130

Honey 1’s claim to fame is “real smoke and no joke.” The first thing you see when you enter this BBQ emporium is their glassed-in smoker and a pile of hickory. Pitmaster Robert Adams describes the style as “traditional Arkansas wood-smoked BBQ.” Diners have a choice of hot or mild sauce, homemade by Mrs. A. Dine-in, carry-out, Tuesdays through Sundays, lunch and dinner.

Bring a hungry crew, stake out a table and order up a couple of slabs of meaty, tender spareribs, a whole mess of rib tips and a plate of hot links. If you’re still hungry after the main event, juicy smoked chicken and crispy catfish should round things out.

12764790_910946892337203_8604484869529844001_oSmalls Smoke Shack & More

4009 N Albany Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

(312) 857-4221

Smalls is a tiny, cerulean-painted restaurant with a few tall chairs along a narrow ledge, and that’s it. If you want to properly dive into trays of falling apart brisket, perfect fried chicken, glazed St. Louis ribs or pulled pork, you’ll need to stand up and hope everyone else decides to take their orders to go. The BBQ has Asian tinges, such as the soy, banana ketchup, garlic and Mexican 7 Up glaze on the meaty ribs. Sides come with each meat dish, and the toasted garlic rice is nutty and garlicky, while the charred corn on the cob, topped with herbs and cheese and served with spicy Japanese mayo, is an Asian twist on elotes.

13777Lillie’s Q

1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

(773) 772-5500

That pork shoulder is worthy of its trophy: rubbed with a brown-sugar spice blend then plopped into a custom-built smoker from Georgia-based D.W.’s Kountry Cookers (fully insulated, hence the lack of smoke in the air). Peach wood is wedged below the charcoal so it smolders as ash feeds it, the heat hovering around 225 degrees for ideal slow-and-low cooking. The pink-tinged pile of juicy pork doesn’t need sauce, but it’s even better with a drizzle of the Carolina, a brilliantly balanced vinegar-based blend with just enough tomato to keep my Kansas City taste buds happy.

All five of the housemade sauces are lappable, with the Smoky Heat a perfect match for the baby back ribs, which, thanks to their leanness and sticky glaze, are probably the only thing I ate that didn’t bowl me over. Still, the meat is moist and smoky, and even as the weak link, they’re better than 90 percent of what’s out there.

10012924_921347087963850_3950823603806839299_oWiley’s Chicken & Ribs

3853 W Madison St, Chicago, IL 60624

(773) 638-2314

If you didn’t know that Chicago had its own style of barbecue, try barbecue at Wiley’s Chicken & Ribs. Made in an own smoker, the most commonly cooked meats are rib tips and hot links. Chicagoans’ love of rib tips and its popularity can be traced back to this small South Side smoke shack. Wiley’s Chicken & Ribs serving smoky, finger-licking tips with a great sauce.

Wiley’s Chicken & Ribs is takeout only. We brought some it ribtips to lunch and they were delicious. They are worth the trip!

Also Wiley’s Chicken & Ribs have a really good, juicy jerk chicken and wonderful tasty wings.

20120220-193388-best-rib-tips-hot-links-fat-willysFat Willy’s Rib Shack

2416 W Schubert Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

 (773) 782-1800


Check, Please!

Fat Willy’s Rib Shack co-0wner and chef, Bo Fowler, has been serving some amazing BBQ for 12 years now.  Everything is either brined or marinated before cooking, and it’s all cooked in a hardwood smoker she and her husband, Arden, brought to Chicago from Georgia.  The baby back ribs – perfectly done and plenty tasty.  Try the collard greens, tender with just a bit of natural bitterness; or the gumbo, flavorful, just-right spicy.  The baked four cheese macaroni is even better than it sounds.  Dine in, or carry out, everything is excellent.

 Food was very very good.  We had ribs, gumbo, poultine, mac and cheese (Arden insisted, and it was worth it, but now I’m getting fat again. Sigh.) collard greens, cornbread, and texas toast.  The greens were excellent, really!  Collard greens are easy to overcook, then they get tough and really bitter – these were perfect.  Ribs, I think, were at least as good, (maybe a little bit better) but with a different taste, as Smoque.  It was interesting to taste and try to identify the difference.

April 2016