This past weekend I visited a good buddy of mine in South Bend, IN. And since we were so close to Chicago, I had to go and check out the BBQ because in the past few years it’s exploded in this town. And there are a LOT of options… To start off the day, we stopped by Toon’s Bar and Grill. This little neighborhood bar is a cool location and Danny over there is making some of the best Hot Wings in town. (and I love hot wings almost as much as I love BBQ). We had the rib basket, some amazing Jumbo Wings… and the best BBQ quesadilla I’ve ever had. I gotta say, the food was great, beer selection was on-time and the hospitality was even better.
The next stop we made was to SmoQue BBQ. This shop was on everyone’s list as one of the places to visit in Chicago for Q’. And I wasn’t disappointed. Some of the best brisket I’ve ever had in a restaurant setting.
They don’t serve beer in SmoQue, but you can bring your own. So we just stopped off and bought a 6-pack of Old Style tall boys. We were the only folks in there drinking our own beer in paper sacks… but I gotta admit, that’s not a first for me.
We order the baby-back rib plate and the brisket plate for everyone to sample. The ribs were solid, but the star of the show was the brisket. Not a lot of rub or sauce on it, so that beef flavor really came through. Tender, juicy, great brisket.
I only shot one video in Chicago – mostly because my camera man was having a little too much fun to remember. But it was at SmoQue:
After hitting up SmoQue, we decided to take a little break and find a watering hole. But the problem was that we ended up at Gunner’s Bar in Wicker Park. These boys are making a sandwich called “The Hog’s Boss” that is getting reviews as one of the best sandwiches around- so we had to order it.
While it’s not what I consider BBQ, it was GOOD. The Hog’s Boss is a pork tenderloin with sliced bratwurst, bacon, sauerkraut and chipotle mayo.
After that little detour, we went straight to Lillie’s Q. These boys compete – and were even at Memphis In May… so they know what they are doing. And they bring that competition-quality to the restaurant (which is really hard to do).
We had the PORKS RINDS with Pimento Cheese Powder for an appetizer along with our High Lifes. And they were pretty good. I’m not that crazy about cheese powder on my pork rinds, but my wife liked them a lot.
Next we ordered the TASTE OF LQ with Tri-Tip, Pulled Pork and Baby Back Ribs. The Tri-Tip was excellent – one of the best I’ve had at a restaurant. And the ribs and pulled pork were solid. I was really impressed with the appearance of the pulled pork… it looked just like competition shoulder meat.
After that the plan was to hit up Lee Ann Whippen’s Chicago Q, but we just couldn’t make it. But at least now we have an excuse to go back and do the tour all over again.
Overall… I was really impressed with Chicago BBQ. They are doing it right up there. I didn’t have a bad dish all day… and that is surprising considering how many times I’ve left BBQ restaurants disappointed. These yankees are giving Memphis a run for it’s money.
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