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Smoque BBQ - Report

Went to Smoque BBQ on the NW side of the city Saturday night before Xmas.
6:30 pm and most of the tables were taken. Mostly families with kids and the other 1/3 of them were Chicago's finest, and they kept coming and going.

Their website smoquebbq.com was very intriguing, especially the manifesto about why spareribs are better than baby backs and what they learned while touring the central Texas bbq belt.

Was told during the ordering that they were out of the babybacks and the chicken. No problem on the ribs, but wanted to try the chicken. Ended up trying the St Louis spareribs and the brisket.

Both meats had very good texture, soft without falling off the bone too easily. Juicy as well. Good smoking. Only small shortcoming was a relative excess of saltiness in the meats. Almost as if they were brined too long. All in all the meats were done well.

Served on small baking sheets/trays with butcher paper on them.

The sides come in styrofoam bowls or individual foil souffle tins.

Tried the barbecue beans, the cole slaw, peach cobbler, and french fries. The fries were served in a brown paper bag. Skin on and on the "burnt" side. Very tasty. The beans were a little sweet for my taste, but true to a Kansas City style, with molasses and onions.

Cobbler was a cute single serving that was a bit tart, a bit sweet.

Their smoker in the back was shiny and new.
The owners were hard at work trying to keep the orders processed as quickly as possible. Friendly service by all of them behind the counter.

All in all worth another visit. A different breed than typical Chicago style with heavy sauce and such. Better than the random bbq joint I would go to in Houston/Austin (Luther's, Millers), but not yet in the league of a Salt Lick.

Great effort by a team that merits our business.

Smoque BBQ
Pulaski 2 blocks south of Irving Park
smoquebbq.com

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  1. I tried Smoque recently and the chicken is good! I only wish they had a pulled chicken sandwich. Also, get there early, they run out of food all the time!

    1. The only thing with smoke in it is the name and it's not the real thing.

      Very disappointed. Live 2 blocks away and don't consider the walk worth it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: johnchitown

        Ouch.... I will say I've been there twice and have been happy with the sandwiches pulled pork, sliced brisket, and the St. Louis Ribs. I prefer the well done crust on the brisket and the pulled pork was moist. I'm not too attached to the sauce it not that it's bad but not really a stand out.

        I haven't been to Texas for the "real deal" I would be curious Johnchitown what you had there so I can steer clear of it on future visits. Where do you prefer to get your BBQ in Chicago? Prior comming to Smoque I was a Smoke Daddy Fan...

      2. I had a great experience at this place...as some people have mentioned, they were out of a few things (granted, we went late on a tuesday night), but the ribs were awesome, pulled pork sandwich was tasty and tender, and i particularly enjoyed the coleslaw and mac n cheese. not a big fan of the baked beans--too sweet for my taste. service was fast and friendly--one of the owners came around to check on me and my date and make sure we were happy. one more thing--the place was FULL of cops chowing down between shifts--always a good sign. :-)

        oh, and i used to live in texas (i still dream about the 3-meat plate from sammy's bbq in dallas), and this place does a pretty darn good job of standing up to it. definitely worth a visit!

        1. Ribs were ok. Certainly not among the 5 best in the city, probably not even in the top 10 or 15 best. The texture was way, way off.

          Mac and cheese was good, fries had potential but ours were a bit soggy, slaw was fine. The sauce was unremarkable.

          I'll go back to try the brisket and pulled pork, but I'm not particularly impressed so far.

          When I get barbecue, I get it for the meat, not the sides. The meat at Smoque was slightly above average. Go to Honey One, Barbara Ann's, Lem's, or Uncle John's for ribs, any day.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gleam

            Couldn't agree more. I like the place, but it's nothing exceptional.

            Honey 1 gets my vote, hands down.

          2. Finally got to Smoque last night.

            The location is convenient, right off the Kennedy.

            The look is pure Texas BBQ -- too bad they don't have picnic tables -- and more of them.

            Now about the food:
            Baby backs were IMHO just ok. They were meaty and we didn't have a problem with the texture, but they weren't terribly smoky or well-seasoned.

            The sauce didn't help because it was both rather thin and vinegary. We all through it could benefit from being sweeter, hotter and thicker.

            The brisket was amazing -- Tender and moist.-- but again, would would have liked it better with a different bbq sauce.

            As for the sides: Loved the mac and cheese. Good cornbread -- not too sweet -- with kernels of corn in it and a strong baking soda flavor. Baked beans were good, but no match for Smoke Daddy or Fat Willies. Cole Slaw was good but unremarkable. French Fries were on the right track.

            We didn't have the chicken or the peach cobbler.

            Does anyone know what "style" of barbecue this is supposed to be? I'm afraid I can't distinguish between St. Louis or Memphis or Texas or whatever.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chicgail

              I'm from Kansas City and have been deprived of some great beef BBQ up in Chicago for awhile. Mostly, pork reigns supreme in Chicago. I really enjoyed the beef brisket (chopped or sliced).

              A thin, tangy sauce is a KC staple for beef (Like Smoque has), and the Memphis/St. Louis style is a thicker, sweeter, sauce. It's all about what you prefer. I like a thinner sauce so I can enjoy the meat.

              The sides were good - I liked the beans, mac and cheese.

              We went at 6PM on Saturday it was very busy but the time we got to the front to order a table opened up. If you are going with a large crowd you may want to get there very early.