The Best BBQ Joints in Chicago
Are you in the mood for some great smoked barbeque? You don’t have to head for Memphis for authentic barbeque – some of the tastiest sauces, unique flavors and fun atmospheres for barbeque are located in the heart of Chicago! Here are some of the best barbeque joints in Chicago.
Smoque, 3800 N Pulaski Rd.
For some of the most authentic barbeque in town, head to Smoque, located on N Pulaski, two blocks south of Irving Park Rd. The founders of Smoque started the restaurant with one goal: bring real, authentic, wood-smoked barbeque to Chicago, and help Chicagoans learn to appreciate what real barbeque is all about. Smoque doesn’t offer any apologies for their menu: they’re all barbeque, all the time. The menu focuses around ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken, Texas sausage and salad, with all the traditional barbeque sides made from scratch daily: coleslaw, baked beans, fries and macaroni and cheese. Smoque’s founders use the best cuts of meats and proprietary causes and rubs to create a true barbeque destination.
Honey1, 2241 N Western Ave.
Honey1 BBQ’s motto is “real smoke and no joke” and they stay true to that motto. The first thing visitors see when they walk in the door to this classic barbeque restaurant on N. Western Ave is a glassed-in smoker full of hickory. Robert Adams, owner and pitmaster of Honey1, serves up traditional Arkansas barbeque (his wife even makes the signature sauce!). Honey 1 offers pulled pork, ribs, rib tips, beef brisket, chicken wings, fish dinners and a variety of hamburgers. The restaurant also offers Party-Packs of wings, tips, ribs and chicken wings – perfect for catering an event or feeding a crowd.
Barn & Company, 950 W Wrightwood Ave.
Barn and Company is more than just a barbeque joint – it’s an experience. Executive Chef Bob Zrenner and Consulting Pit Master Gary Wiviott, focus on brisket, baby back ribs, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. For non-barbeque fans, Barn & Company provides gourmet salads with fresh fruit and greens. The menu includes a variety of sandwiches and burgers for all palates, including a turkey burger with goat cheese; a catfish po’ boy and a brisket melt. Sides include traditional barbeque sides like coleslaw, baked beans and cornbread, with a couple healthy twists, including grilled asparagus. Barn and Company is open till 2 a.m. or later every day of the week (the restaurant is closed on Mondays) and offers events and specials daily. Every Thursday, visitors can experience live music in a variety of genres. Sports fan can watch their favorite teams (including the Bulls and Blackhawks) on what the restaurant bills “Lincoln Park’s Largest Video Wall.” Barn and Company can be reserved for private parties and events and even has an outdoor patio.
Sheffield’s Chicago, 3258 N Sheffield Ave.
For a more upscale barbeque experience, Sheffield’s Chicago is the prime destination. Sheffield’s isn’t just a barbeque joint, it’s a beer garden and a bar, and also hosts a variety of events from book readings to comedy shows. The beer garden is immensely popular; even on colder days, a line to get in stretches down the block. The barbeque portion of Sheffield’s is located in the back of the bar area. Barbeque platters include your choice of meat (Carolina pulled pork, BBQ ribs, beef brisket, smoked chicken or a combination) with made-from-scratch barbeque sauce on the side. You can choose from Memphis red, Carolina vinegar or Texas heat to compliment your meat – and a side of French fries, cornbread and Cole slaw to round out your meal. Sheffield’s also has several delicious BBQ sandwiches, salads, soups, wings and amazing desserts (don’t miss the Bourbon Blueberry Cheesecake).
Rockit Bar & Grill, 22 W Hubbard St.
Although Rockit Bar & Grill isn’t technically a barbeque restaurant, executive chef Amanda Downing has created some delicious and unexpected barbeque and wing choices to go along with cold beers and unique drinks. For an appetizer, try the bourbon chipotle maple wings, served with bacon ranch dressing. Try a different kind of bun with the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, serviced with creamy coleslaw and a pretzel bun. For smaller appetites, try BBQ Pork Sliders on parkerhouse buns.
About the writer: Richard dobbins is a local writer and business owner specializing in BBQ.
Photo Credit: Michael Lehet