Honey 1 BBQ, run by a father-son team, is one of the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
Honky Tonk Barbecue in Pilsen is one of the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
Lem's Bar-B-Q is one of the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
Lillie's Q, located in Wicker Park, is one of the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
Smalls Smoke Shack & More may be tiny, but it's one of the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
Smoque BBQ in Irving Park is one of the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
Chicago may not be one of the major barbecue regions, but the 'cue restaurants here put a Chicago spin on classic dishes, from hotlinks to ribs tips. Honey 1 BBQ is known for its meaty ribs, Honky Tonk for pulled pork, and Lillie's Q for its chicken. Newcomer Smalls makes our list of favorites for its Asian-tinged brisket, while Smoque is the gold standard for traditional brisket. Here are the best barbecue restaurants in Chicago.
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Best barbecue restaurants in Chicago
The father and son behind this rib house know a thing or two about barbecue—they hail from a part of Arkansas where smokers are more common than microwaves. Bring a hungry crew, stake out a table in the simple but spick-and-span dining area and order up a couple of slabs of meaty, tender spareribs, a whole mess of rib tips and a plate of hot links. If you’re still hungry after the main event, juicy smoked chicken and crispy catfish should round things out.Read more
Success on the competition circuit and local festivals prompted Willie Wagner to set up a permanent home for his “Memphis-style,” dry-rubbed barbecue in Pilsen. The smoky pulled pork clocks in at one of the best around. Tender, juicy chicken comes in second for best bets, with puckery slaw and meaty beans right behind it. Make a night of it with the lively bands that play in the attached bar on the weekends.Read more
As the best barbecue joints on the South Side do, Lem’s requires that you order through bulletproof glass and then take your ribs elsewhere to be devoured (it’s takeout only). But it would take much more than that to scare away devotees of these spareribs and rib tips, which have a thin, vinegary sauce heavy with spice and charred outer edges that hide pink, juicy pork. Honestly, the only truly scary thing here is arriving to find the line snaking out the door.Read more
We have to admit we were skeptical that a stylish spot in Wicker Park could deliver memorable barbecue, but we ate our words with bite after bite of impressively smoky, truly tender, low-and-slow meats. Ease into the night with a moonshine-spiked Arnold Palmer or a pick from the impressive beer list and apps like fried pickles, boiled peanuts and pimento cheese. Stellar Southern classics continue with fried green tomatoes and shrimp over insanely creamy grits, but it’s the pink-tinged pulled pork and thick slices of smoked tri-tip that prove chef-owner Charlie McKenna is every bit deserving of that Memphis in May trophy behind the bar.Read more
Smalls is a tiny, cerulean-painted restaurant with a few tall chairs placed along a narrow ledge, and that’s it. If you want to properly dive into trays of falling apart brisket, perfect fried chicken, glazed St. Louis ribs or pulled pork, you’ll need to stand up and hope that everyone else decided to take their orders to go. The BBQ has Asian tinges, such as the soy, banana ketchup, garlic and Mexican 7 Up glaze on the meaty ribs. Sides come with each meat dish, and the toasted garlic rice is nutty and garlicky, while the charred corn on the cob, topped with herbs and cheese and served with spicy Japanese mayo, is an Asian twist on elotes.Read more
At this now-famous Northwest Side barbecue joint, St. Louis spareribs are near-perfect—juicy, pull-apart tender, with subtle smokiness that doesn’t overwhelm the tangy spice rub—while pillow-soft chicken’s slick, seasoned skin gives way to meat that’s partially pink from smoke and fully flavorful. But it’s the brisket that has folks coming from far and wide. The beautifully marbled beef is given just the right treatment—it’s the stuff that shows Texans that Chicago knows ’cue too.Read more