When you think about Chicago food, it’s typical for the mind to conjure images of deep-dish (and thin crust) pizzas, hotdogs, and all ranges of Italian fare—probably not barbeque. But believe it or not Chicago is knee-deep in a full out Barbeque renaissance these days: while Chicago may not be a Memphis, Austin, or Kansas City, you know you’re about to hit the big time when people starting throwing around words like “Chicago-style Barbeque”. Want to know what we’re talking about? Here’s a list of top ten fine Chicago BBQ establishments to get you started on what’s guaranteed to be satisfying culinary journey.
Top 10 Chicago BBQ Joints
#1 Barbara Ann’s
More of a booth than a restaurant, Barbara Ann’s is a walk-up barbeque shop on the South Side that’s got one of the oldest BBQ traditions in Chicago. Founded by Mississippi immigrants, this pit is nothing but slow-roasted, aquarium-style smoker with real hickory, and is a must-eat when on a Chicago BBQ pilgrimage.
#2 Honey 1 BBQ
You know a pit master is dedicated to their craft when you get two choices: mild sauce or hot. Using a glassed-in smoker and the must-have hickory for a true Arkansas-style BBQ, Honey 1 BBQ takes their moniker seriously: “Real smoke, no joke”.
#3 Honky Tonk BBQ
Cajuns do barbeque right, too—and you can get it in full force at Honky Tonk. While they’re known for their pulled-pork sandwiches they run the gamut of BBQ essentials as well, including a few specialties like Bacon Candy.
#4 Gale Street Inn
For over fifty years, Gale Street has been making ribs on the North-west side that just fall of the bone. While they offer much more than just ribs, on Monday nights you can get four bucks off the full rack of ribs and a side, and enjoy the live jazz to make you feel right at home.
#5 Pork Shoppe
While they may be a relatively recent addition to the Chicago BBQ scene, the Pork Shoppe is all about the old-school, to-the-point dining experience; tables adorned with brown paper towels and orders by the number, Pork Shoppe offers some of the finest slow-roasted pork around—and they even have their own homemade popsicle brews to wash it down.
#6 Lillie’s Q
While they offer a fresh, urban-esque dining atmosphere that feels almost chiq, Lillie’s doesn’t mess around with their North Carolina style BBQ. Dusted with their “Carolina Dirt” barbeque rub, their ribs are meant to be enjoyed with one of their five sauces made special in-house.
#7 Smoke Daddy
One part blues club and one part Kansas City BBQ eatery, the Smoke Daddy is all-parts awesome. Located in Wicker Park, it flaunts a true locals’ vibe–though their homemade sauces cater marvelously well to Memphis, Kansas City, and Carolina flavors.
#8 Smoque BBQ
Specializing in slow-cooked, Texas style barbeque, Smoque BBQ’s 12-hour brisket and tender ribs are enough to make a believer out of just about anyone. Served with rich southern classics like coleslaw and Mac and cheese, Smoque BBQ delivers stick-to-the-gut ‘que like only momma could make.
#9 Robinson’s Ribs
Made famous from their championing of Ribfest ’82, Robinson’s winning combination of dry-rubbed, smoked baby-back ribs is the pride and joy of Lincoln Park. Offering take-out, dine in, and delivery, Robinson’s Ribs has become a Chicagoan classic that no true BBQ fiend can bear to pass up.
#10 Twin Anchors
Established in 1932, the Anchors was the hangout of guys like Sinatra and Martin—and its celebrity has only grown in recent years. While they’re known for their ribs, we recommend avoiding dining on the weekends, as you’re going to be in line for a very, very long time.