The Slowfood Guide to Chicago has a chapter on BBQ. It says that most sauce in the city is Memphis style. They claim the Jello-style is more likely on the north side, while properly smoked ribs are more common on the south and west sides.
Here are some of their recommendations (many are take-out only)
Barbara Ann's BBQ (7617 S Cottage Grove)
Honey 1 (5135 W Division) -- says they will smoke anything you bring in.
Lem's BQ House (311 E 75th)
Leon's BBQ (8249 S. Cottage Grove, 2418 N. Ashland)
They also like Hecky's but say many "purists" don't like the sauce. I happen to like it because I like more vinegar in my sauce. They also like Smoke Daddy and give mild props to Robinson's.
Honey 1 has moved to 2241 North Western as noted higher in the thread. Their barbecue is done exclusively with hickory wood as the heat source and is of the toothsome type. It may be too toothsome for some people and is the antithesis of parboiled meat jello. I like Honey 1 a lot.
Much of the black migration to Chicago come from places near the Illinois Central or Gulf, Mobile and Ohio railroads. Consequently, the origins of a substantial faction of the black population are from states touching the Mississipi River plus Alabama. This pattern has affected the types of barbecue available here. The only place that I can recall having any of the Carolina variants was Hoxies, which closed some years ago after the white owner/chef/pitmaster was seriously mauled by a dog.
Cant do everything great here I guess, and what a shame since Chicago blows away most every metro area for great food just not in the "Q" category.
I would not recommend Hecky's in Evanston. They have bad sauces and greasy hot links and ribs. Also, if your out in the far northern suburbs stay away from Hillarys (3 locations North Chicago, Waukegan & Kenosha all lousy)and especially Herm's on Sunset in Waukegan they are some of the worst BBQ I've ever had, with low quality (select grade) meats and poorly cooked product.
I also agree with the above reviewer about Robinsons & Anchor, par boiled burnt on sauce. I would also say add Portillos/Barnelli's to the list of par-boilers.
There is word that a new place in Third Lake (out by Gurnee) called Full Slab is opening soon, I'll post results once they get going.
I've read good things about Texan BBQ in Algonquin, but have not tried it yet, here's their web link, Http://texanbbq.com/page/15rjg/Home_P...
if anyone goes, please let me know how it is.
Being a Texas BBQ nut I'll be following your posts here as well, as for me: my search has come up empty and I now just smoke my own, I've never regretted buying my Cookshack smoker.
I listed a number of places in the post linked to above by Darren. But where are you looking to find bbq? North side? South side? And are you looking for pulled pork, ribs, tips?
My favorite spot on the north side for ribs and tips is Honey 1. They do bbq the way it's meant to be done -- spareribs (not baby back), slow cooked over wood (you'll know you're near when you're a block away and see the smoke billowing). Fat Willy's is ok, but has nothing compared to Honey 1. I would also urge anyone to stay far away from Robinson's -- it's like Twin Anchors, no smoke, no slow cooking and thus, not real bbq . . . just rib jello!
Honey 1 is at 2241 N. Western Avenue, phone: 773.227.5130. Here's a link with a number of great pictures of their food:
If you're looking for good bbq on the south side, see the aforementioned link.
I haven't found a place that does Southern food right either - who knew it was that hard - but I really like the Horseshoe Bar on Lincoln . . . decent ribs and the brisket is good to outstanding depending on the night. I thought Fat Willy's was OK but the sauces were a little weird, like they were full of MSG.
Also it's not Southern style but the $6 order of short ribs at Sticky Rice on Western (it's a Thai place) is amazing, I usually get that when I have to have something barbecued or I will die.
If you get out toward the western suburbs, a VERY good BBQ joint is Uncle Bub's in Westmont. It's on Cass Avenue two blocks south of the Burlington tracks.
The meat is properly smokey- ribs, tips, brisket, chicken, sausage, pulled shoulder; the sauce is middle-of-the-road not too sweet, a spicy version if you want. Everything is made in-house- slaw, fries are hand-cut, beans, all the trimmings are custom made.
He does a lot of catering, too. Our Rotary Club had him handle a BBQ for 400 a year ago for the Rotary International 100th year Convention here in Chicago- it went off flawlessly and we got accolades from Rotarian guests from all over the world for some months afterward.
Try it; you'll like it.
What places have you been to already?
I like Robinson's on Armitage, Fat Willy's, Hecky's in Evanston, Merle's in Evanston,
Honey 1 gets rave reviews, but I haven't tried it.
I presume you've searched earlier threads, because BBQ is discussed a lot on this board. If not, here are some recent discussions: