Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
May 15, 2012 02:05 PM

Uncle John's BBQ, South Side

Was planning a trip to this place. Will be on my own during the day. Would it be safe for me to go there alone, or should I wait until Saturday when I will have husband with me?

Also, I found a lot of reviews at Yelp! but I'm not fully trusting of that board, and while I totally trust this board, there doesn't seem to be many reviews of this place.

Is this a place you recommend? I was going to get the ribs, rib tips and hot link with no sides.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My only hesitation regarding Uncle John's is that it's not really convenient to get down there (especially if you don't have a car). And if memory serves, there's not really any seating available so if you don't have a car to eat in, it might be tricky to enjoy your food.

    If you were looking to get some great barbeque, I think Smoque is as good as any other place. And they're right off the city's Blue line (Iriving Park stop). No rib tips, but they do great work with brisket, hot links and ribs (stick with the St. Louis cut rather than baby back). If there's a line, I wouldn't worry too much - it moves pretty quickly.

    2 Replies
    1. re: danimalarkey

      From reports I've read, they reheat easily, and that's essentially the plan. Eat some standing in the area or whatever, and then bring the rest back to the hotel. I really just want to taste it and see if it's that good.

      Don't worry -- I never order baby backs :)

      1. re: JanetLong

        I actually like the ribs and tips better an hour after you pick them up, but you need to let them breath during that time.

    2. It's hard to beat tips and links from Uncle John's for the best barbecue in Chicago. I would suggest a Saturday afternoon trip with your husband.
      Agree about Smoque's brisket. Good sides, too.

      1. Are you looking specifically for Chicago Aquarium Style Smoker bbq?
        If so, Uncle John's is hard to beat for tips and spares. His links are easily best in city, in my opinion, and by a wide, wide, margin. There are a few other places that can compare for tips (Lem's, Honey one, Barbara Ann's, Exsenators) but Uncle John's links are sensational, and his tips are usually spot on. The other places have some consistency issues, imo. Tho Honey One is the most steady for great tips of those four.

        If you are looking TEXAS bbq, however, you might be disappointed, because that is not what Uncle John's sells. For Texas style bbq, head to Smoque. The ribs and brisket will be a different beast. Cooked differently altogether.

        If you do want Chicago Aquarium Style Smoker bbq, Uncle John's is a fine, fine, choice during the day. It's essentially take out only. If you are closer to a different spot, it might make sense to go there instead. What is your starting point?

        5 Replies
        1. re: gordeaux

          I was looking for the aquarium-style bbq, because I've never had it. I've eaten some great Texas style bbq while in Texas, so that's not I'm looking for. As far as BBQ in general, it's not something I typically seek out, but when it's great, it's great.

          Safety is the only factor. I will have to go alone, because of his schedule. He's free Saturday, but I already have that day booked. If I can't go to this place safely on Wed or Thurs, I'll have to cut it from the schedule.

          My starting point is the River North area, and I'm doing mostly the trains for transportation. I am okay with cabs, however.

          1. re: JanetLong

            If you take the Red Line train to 69th, it would be a five block walk down 69th to Uncle John's. While it's safe during the day, it is an economically depressed area that is daunting for some. I've found the people in the area to be pleasant and friendly myself. A cab ride would be long and expensive, but that's the way most out-of-towners I know have preferred to travel from downtown to Uncle John's.

            1. re: JanetLong

              Well, then, it depends on what you want more, if it's applicable. If you want a better hot link, definitely go to Uncle John's. If you've never had a "Chicago" hot link, it's a spicy sausage with a strong hit of sage - the flavor most people associate with breakfast sausage. If you are relying on public trans, I might lean towards Honey 1 because of the time involved in getting to Uncle John's. Honey 1's hot links just do not compare to Uncle John's, but Honey One's tips are usually a fine choice. Aquarium smoker bbq is cooked at a higher temp for shorter time than long, slow, texas cue, so don't be surprised if you encounter more fat on the ribs and the tips than with Texas cue. I love both styles, but I'm not averse to eating fat. You can eat around it, and pick it off or whatever, but just be forewarned. Ppl who are not familiar with the style can sometimes be "put off" by the fat. However, as most ppl familiar with meat will tell you, the flavor is in the fat. Aquarium smoker cue just usually doesn't have as much fat rendered off.

              1. re: JanetLong

                Just wondering the outcome. Did you make it?

                1. re: gordeaux

                  My trip is June 19th - 24th, and Uncle John's is on the itinerary.

            2. I don't think you should worry about safety during a weekday.

              For your first trip it's probably best to order the sauce on the side.

              The ribs are large full spares so don't over order.

              For a lot of posts and pics from another trustworthy board try

              1. Hi, I travel all over the country for work and have enjoyed BBQ in Dallas, KC, Memphis, Raleigh, Richmond, and even Windsor, Ontario (Tunnel BBQ just outside the Detroit-Windsor Border Tunnel is awesome) . So yeah i eat BBQ pretty much anywhere and I can't recommend you spend half a day going to any of our BBQ spots. Uncle John's is good, but only if you had a car and could shoot there and back quickly and on your own schedule. If you really want to see an aquarium smoker, take a cab to Honey 1 (10 mins from loop), it's equally good in my opinion and much closer.