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Sep 1, 2007 08:17 AM

Honky Tonk BBQ

Last night at Smoke Daddy I met Willie Wagner, the owner of Honky Tonk BBQ, a catering venture based in the Pilsen neighbourhood. Willie told me that he will soon be opening a small storefront operation by the same name featuring "Baby Back" and "St. Louis cut" pork ribs, Texas-style beef briskets, and N.C.-style whole pork shoulders. In addition to BBQ, Wille will offer a full compliment of sides including cole slaw, beans and corn muffins, and, eventually, he hopes to run a fish special on Fridays.

Honky Tonk BBQ
1213 W. 18th Street.
<Opening on Saturday, September 29th>



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  1. Erik, thanks so much for this information. I noticed the sign while driving on 18th Street about a week ago, and wondered about it. It'll be interesting to see how it does in Pilsen. Myself, I'm always interested in trying places up here with NC-style 'cue (as you know).


    1 Reply
    1. re: Amata

      I sorely miss my NC favourites, so I have my hopes up too, Amata, but I should tell you that Willie considers himself a Memphis-style rib expert first and foremost.

      Oh, interestingly enough, he introduced me to one of his catering clients who also happened to show up at Smoke Daddy last night, and she is originally from Texas. To hear her tell it, Willie's Texas-style beef brisket is quite good. "Better than Smoque's, for sure," she said, so that should give us something else to look forward to. Assuming that you like beef bisket, of course. <smile>


    2. I have been lucky enough to try Willy's bbq at two different street festivals this year. I loved the pulled pork -- he says he uses bone-in shoulder, smoked for about 11 hours over largely applewood and some hickory. It's some of the better pulled pork I've tried and I'm looking forward to trying more items at his restaurant. Here's a link to Honky Tonk's website:

      1. I'm in Pislen at the moment. I've gone to Honky Tonk once. It was awesome!! My Girl is a good sport so we tried both style ribs that we're offered and a handful of extra's. St Louis, and the Babyback. Both were awesome but the St. Louis were better. BEEF Brisket. Killer (I'm getting a take out one tonight). The sides we're also good. The price was right and of course it always helps. BYOB! I'm so stoked. Every time we have a guest in town I'm selling BBQ!

        1. AMAZING ... AMAZING ... AMAZING!!! We passed by it one day and since both my husband and I are barbecue aficionados we decided to give it a try. We are always in search of some good old fashion barbecue and we think we have found it. We went on Thursday night after work with our 2yr old. We were a little bit worried since we didn't know what to expect. The moment you walk in you are greeted by the most amazing smell of slow cooked smoked meat. A nice young girl gave us the option of siting by the kitchen or in the dinning room. We opted for the dinning room since we did have our 2 yr old and we didn't want to disturb the cook. We loved the cozy feeling in the dinning room ... small ... but very nicely decorated with vintage wooden tables and chairs that reminded me of being at home down south. There are some HUGE art pieces that kept me daughter in awe. She also loved the collection of pigs they had lining the wall. Since it was our first time here we opted for the sampler (half ribs, half chicken, sausage link, pork sandwich, brisket sandwich, corn bread and cole slaw ... ohhhhh and how can I forget the baked beans ...yumm!)... we also ordered the portobello mushrooms in olive oil and garlic and the mac and cheese for my daughter. Well ... it did not disappoint. We just could not stop talking about how good everything was ... my daughter (the pickiest eater on earth) LOVED the chicken. It was nice and moist and the skin was nicely seasoned (you could tell it was smoked since all the fat was drained). The ribs were given to you Memphis-style (ribs are rubbed and sauce is served on the side). They were incredible ... EVERYTHING was incredible. We were given two sauces ... one hot and one sweet ... well we loved them both but we almost finished the whole thing of the hot one (sorry). We didn't have room for desert, but we will sure try it next time. I rather stop here or this is going to go on and on. All I can say, YOU HAVE TO TRY IT!!! We WILL be back. Ohhh one side note ... right now it's cash only .. so make sure to bring some and if you forget there is an ATM in the corner.

          1. Tonight, my girlfriend and I decided to go to Honky Tonk BBQ. I had the pulled pork sandwich and she had the pulled pork and beef brisket sandwich combo. I also ordered beans and mashed potatoes.

            I have to admit that I was not all that impressed with it. The absolute biggest turn off was the fact that the pulled pork had chunks of fat on/in it. My second bite into the sandwich, and I got a big chunk of it. My girlfriend noticed it as well and wasn't pleased. I opened the sandwich and picked it all the fat off and there was more than normal. Yuck. The beef brisket was good, the beans tasted like they had way too much hot sauce in them. I had no problems with the potatoes.

            Atmosphere wise, it was alright, but I kind of got the wrong impression. From reading reviews on here and looking at the web site, I imagined a dark, quaint restaurant with a number of tables in front of a stage where there's a band playing. While this is nit-picking at everything, I know, but I guess I was just expecting something different. One thing I loved was the impressionist picture of the three cowboys.

            I don't think that we will be going back, and it's kind of sad because I've really been wanting to find a good BBQ place. Maybe someday, I'll find a spectacular bbq restaurant in chicago!