Atmosphere is rarely the calling card of a good barbecue joint, but North Park’s new rib shack is particularly sterile—it’s more of a brightly lit retail environment than a cozy place to dig into a slab. The friendly counter staff helps warm the place up a bit (plus you can always opt for carryout), and the prices don’t hurt either: A lineup of ’cue standards are scrawled onto a chalkboard, advertising good values like the combo platter, generous mounds of two different meats with two sides, slaw and a soft roll for $12.50. You could easily split this between two people. Problem is, you might not be so quick to clean your plates. Although a Southern Pride smoker sits proudly in the kitchen, it doesn’t do much for the underseasoned brisket, which lacks smoke and is more mushy than tender. Pulled pork fares a bit better, with some discernible smokiness and the faint tang of a cidery brine. But the ribs suffer the fate of meat that’s been cooked and then held too long: On the slab I tried, the sliver of spice rub had turned pasty, and the lean pork veered into rubbery territory. Soupy, slightly sour beans and macaroni shells in a pasty alfredo don’t help matters much; ditto for the gritty pecan brownies sourced from JR Bakery. But the chicken and turkey leg, both lightly smoky with tender meat and just enough salt, show some promise lurking in that kitchen—hopefully early customers think enough of it to give Smokey Bears a second chance at a first impression.
|Venue name:||Smokey Bears BBQ House (CLOSED)|
3314 W Foster Ave
|Cross street:||between Christiana and Spaulding Aves|
|Opening hours:||Lunch, dinner (closed Sun)|
|Transport:||El stop: Brown to Kedzie (Brown). Bus: 81, 92, 93.|
|Price:||Average main course: $10|
|Do you own this business?|