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Aug 14, 2008 10:58 PM

Visiting from KC - any BBQ worth trying?

DH says no way, why would anyone from KC eat BBQ in Chicago? Anyone care to throw down a challenge?

Only thing is, we're staying in the loop. So places 15 miles out ain't gonna happen.
And I'll bet the best ones are off in the hintercorners. They always are, aren't they?

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  1. Well, I'm originally from KC and I don't think there is any reason to get BBQ in Chicago if you're from KC. That's not to say that the BBQ here isn't good (some can be fantastic), but it's not going to be any BETTER than what you get in KC (I went back home in June and the burnt ends at LC's was probably one of the better BBQ experiences I've ever had).

    ADDITIONALLY, because you're staying in the loop, you're going to have to head out to the neighborhoods to get some good BBQ anyway. I wouldn't let having to leave the loop hinder your choices, though.

    See the many BBQ threads on this board to get a feel for the types we have here.

    1. If you are able to travel further afield, come to NW Indiana. On US 12, on the east side of Michigan City, is FROSTY'S Cajun BBQ. Frosty has his own smoker. His beef rib tips are perfect, with crunchy edges! I'm told the other items are as tasty, but I never get passed the beef tips. Try the beans but be prepared for heat. It's a great dish to eat when the north wind is howling across Lake Michigan.

      1. I'm from Memphis and let me tell you, there is very little BBQ worth trying around here. I've tried out a few places that cam highly recommended and have found that the BBQ ranges from completely disgusting to barely edible to edible but what's the point? I hear that there's a great place out in Pilsen (haven't tried it out yet, but apparently they won second prize in the Memphis BBQ festival this year), but that is going to be farther away than you're looking for. I would suggest that you stick to what Chicago is more known for - a good steakhouse, pizza, etc ...

        1 Reply
        1. re: basilb

          The place is Honky Tonk, and it won 3rd prize in pork shoulder, altho I find their beef brisket and beef ribs to be very good, too. Here's more about it and it would take about 20 minutes to get there by public trans:

          In general, the bbq picture in Chicago has improved considerably in the last couple of years (think Smoque, Honey 1, Uncle John's--all of whom have their proponents and detractors), but I would hesitate to go go head-to-head with KC BBQ. Think Thai or Mexican (Pilsen, again) if you're looking for ethnic cuisines at their best.

        2. Smoque - this is good barbecue, most closely resembling Texas style, speaking as an ex-Texan, and having spent a summer in KC. They are at Pulaski and Irving Park, about a 30 minute ride up the Blue Line, or a 20 minute drive (with no traffic).

          Honey1 in west Bucktown is a bit closer (Fullerton and Western Aves., about 10 minute drive from the Loop) and they are more of a combo of classic southern style with KC style.

          And finally, for some good Texas style beef brisket that on some days is even better than Smoque, check out the Whole Foods up at Petersen. Don't know if any of the other Whole Foods carry it, but it's good brisket. Granted, you don't get a full BBQ restaurant experience, including the sides, but if you close your eyes the quality of the meat is top notch.

          5 Replies
          1. re: tex888

            The Irving Park station on the Blue line has a secondary exit on Pulaski that is quite close to Smoque.

            Honey 1 is also pretty easy to reach on the Blue Line. Go to Western Avenue at Milwaukee and walk less than three standard blocks north to 2241. Note that Honey 1 is closed for vacation until August 29. Robert Adams Sr. is from Arkansas, which is reflected in his style.

            Many black people came to Chicago using the Illinois Central or Gulf, Mobile and Ohio railroads. Consequently, they disproportionately came from states along the Mississippi River plus Alabama. These origins are reflected in their barbecue. OP is correct that much of the better barbecue is not readily accessed via public transportation. These places often had good reason for installing the bulletproof glass, too.

            For more information than you probably want, see the thread Real BBQ in Chicagoland:

            Woodburning Barbecue Houses in Chicago:

            Honey 1 BBQ:

            1. re: tex888

              I agree that all of those are great (well, the Whole Food's brisket in the south loop was good...but not great). And I'll throw in a Smoke Daddy as my favorite BBQ in Chicago. Lem's is good, too.

              But I don't know why anybody would want any of those if you're from KC. You know: LC's. Gates, Bryants, Danny Edwards, Oklahoma Joe's...the list goes on.

              Unless you really really really love BBQ. Knock yourself out. I am not ashamed to say that those places listed above are great and are very respectable. On the other hand, I would be wary of a lot of what seems to be "chicago-style" BBQ. That is Carsons, Twin Anchors, Gale Street inn. etc. None of those places smoke their ribs. Those places, though, were the famous representations of Chicago BBQ until relatively recently.

              Again, search this board for many many discussions about this subject.

              1. re: rubinow

                Okay, ya'll. From our home here in KC, 5 minutes from OK Joe's, we are taking your recommendation (or, er, lack of) and avoiding your town's BBQ like death. I'll tell DH he was right, no point in eating BBQ in Chicago. We'll stick with Italian beef and hot dogs!

                Now, anything good along THOSE lines by the Art Institute? Or anything else we can't get here in KC?

                1. re: KCyumyum

                  man...I would seriously consider the ethnic options available in Chi. Especially Mexican... it sounds really good right now. you may have to cab it.. but the food is cheap. Check this out...... the Bayless article has me in the mood for Mex.

                2. re: rubinow

                  Actually, "Chicago-style BBQ" (i.e., Carsons and the like) might be any interesting experiment for someone from KC, another kind of ethnic cuisine, as it were, just as long as you don't confuse it with what you're used to in KC (e.g., I would no more think of criticizing a Gale Street rib for having no relationship whatsoever with smoke than I would a "BBQ" pork bun from St. Anne's Bakery.)

              2. If you are right near OK Joe's - don't bother with BBQ here. On our recent 24 hour foray to KC we hit Jack Stack, Bryants and Ok Joe and thought OK Joe's was the BEST! Plus the gas station experience was great too. Like a poster said, try Chicago BBQ for something different, but don't expect KC bbq.

                2 Replies
                1. re: aviva1

                  Hecky's in Evanston on Green Bay Rd., which is a HOLE in the wall, but it's awesome. Get it to go and take it over to the beach. Avoid the greens.

                  1. re: Whosyerkitty

                    Here i must disagree. I've had both the evanston and cabrini green hecky's and both are OK, but by no means worth traveling or even trying to compare to KC or Memphis. The ribs are sysco quality, the chicken breasts are small and not juicy, and the sauce is just ketchup with brown sugar in my opinion.