Restaurant review by Amy Cavanaugh
Q offers every form of barbecue you can think of. It's great for the indecisive, but I always worry that when restaurants do too much, everything winds up being mediocre. There's Texas chopped brisket, Texas sliced brisket, Carolina pulled pork, pulled chicken, Memphis chicken wings, Texas spicy sausage, and so on. The meats are smoked over hickory and applewood, and the smoke smell permeates the restaurant (this is a good thing).
Q has a fairly generic interior, and smoky smell aside, you wouldn't know you're in a barbecue spot. You order at the counter, and there's a long menu, with salads, an array of baked potatoes, sliders and sandwiches (which curiously include melted cheese atop barbecue). Since we wanted to try everything, we opted for the Papa Q platter, a $29.99 tray that offers 2-ounce portions of each meat on the menu. It also comes with two sides and two hush puppies, and while a staffer told us it's designed for two, this can easily feed three people.
The brisket is nice and smoky, but entirely too dry, so it's missing that fall-apart tenderness. The brisket burnt ends were better, but it was the other meats we wound up liking more. The sausage is among the best I've had in Chicago—it's spicy enough that there's a lingering burn, and there's a great snappy casing—and the pulled pork and chicken were lightly sauced and moist. There are two styles of chicken wings—spicy and Memphis—and both were flavorful and meaty.
Q makes a few housemade sauces, including a vinegar-based and a mustard sauce, but across the board they're too sweet. That's also why we barely touched the baby back ribs, which are dripping with glistening sauce. We also hardly ate the few sides, including the nearly raw green beans and super-sweet baked beans, though the spicy fried Brussels sprouts were unexpected and our favorite side.