Though barbecue's pretty much a summertime necessity, the average person loathes slaving over a hot grill in 90-plus degree weather.
In Chicago, a number of barbecue-focused eateries relish the idea of smoking and grilling meats all day, every day. And for a fulfilling experience where you'll also get to soak up atmosphere, we've gathered several restaurants for the best barbecue in Chicago.
It’s worth the drive or taxi fare to Irving Park for these expertly prepared meats that have been smoked for hours. Smoque garnered a cult following pretty much the day it opened, and that’s especially for pulled pork and brisket smoked for 12 and 15 hours, respectively. The restaurant also boasts superior Texas-style sausage (which is made at a restaurant in Taylor, Texas) and St. Louis-style barbecue. The signature sauce by the bottle (pictured) is a big seller as well.
Much fancier than its local counterparts, Chicago q is partly owned by one of the main investors in chef Art Smith’s now-shuttered Table Fifty-Two restaurant. The vibe at Chicago q is upscale, serving a mostly business clientele, and all sauces and rubs are made in-house. The Kobe sliced brisket (pictured) is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. There are also several whiskey flight options to complement the “q.” Choose from single barrel and small batch (three each) to a “grand tasting” of nine bourbons from the restaurant’s portfolio (prices range $18-$75). Diners may also purchase the sauces to try to recreate the magic at home.
A block away from the iconic Second City lives one of the longest-standing barbecue restaurants in the city. Fireplace Inn is very sports-oriented, catering to a crowd that’ll watch whatever’s on the multiple, over-size screens. They also come for the baby back ribs and spacious outdoor patio, which doubles the space when it’s open during warmer months.
Green Street Smoked Meats
Smoked meats are the focus at this casual, yet trendy restaurant from the team behind Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar and Au Cheval, among others. Green Street Smoked Meats specializes in brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, and a craft cocktail menu. Downstairs is home to High Five Ramen, one of the city's greatest basement bars.
Honey 1 BBQ
This cult favorite hasn't lost a beat since relocating from the North Side to the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville in 2015. Honey 1 BBQ specializes in smoked ribs, smoked chicken, tender pulled pork, rib tips and hot links cooked low and slow over wood smoke. Honey 1's BBQ sauce is made in-house.
Award-winning sauces and barbecue have helped put this chef-driven destination in the spotlight. Lillie's Q has also developed a loyal following for its extensive bourbon selection. The Bucktown restaurant pretty much caters to all, as it's also a popular destination for major sports games.
Smoke Daddy’s recent renovations, which include expanding the indoor/outdoor dining area and upgrading the smoker, make it more popular than ever. Its reputation has long extended beyond the Wicker Park crowd it mostly serves because of the free nightly live-music program. Smoke Daddy is best known for slow-smoked ribs, but the smoked chicken and pulled meats (chicken, pork or brisket) also drive in the fans. The smoked pulled meat nachos are one of the best-ever appetizers on a barbecue restaurant menu.
Housed in an 1881 structure in Old Town, Twin Anchors has famously played host to the likes of Al Capone, Frank Sinatra, and Conan O’Brien. It is known for fall-off-the-bone ribs, fish and chips, steaks and sandwiches.