Just like flames and smoke find their way from the bottom to the top of a grill, the birth of Chicago barbeque began in the South Side and migrated North. Today, you are just as apt to find the BBQ in Chicago’s suburbs as you are downtown. Make no mistake, though — not all Chicago meat that bears the barbeque name is made the same way.
What kinds of seasoned, cooked meats earn the right to be called Chicago BBQ? Thanks to the legacy of immigrants and native peoples who brought their unique styles of cooking to what became the capital of the midwest, BBQ is varied and complex.
Take so-called boilbeque, for instance. It’s a mix of BBQ made solely from boiling tough cuts of meat until they head straight off the bone and into the water. Once doused with sticky-sweet barbeque sauce, the meat becomes the perfect gem for a hearty sandwich or standalone protein.
Of course, some Chicagoans couldn’t go without a more traditional open smoked BBQ meat. Cooked over fires and dependent on the essence of the smoke source, this kind of barbecue holds onto its juice, sealing in terrific flavors. Enjoy it with a smattering of tomato-y sauce or just chow down as-is.
Need we mention more fusion BBQ styles? They have popped up around Chicago for generations, offering eaters truly novel flavors. Classic barbeque be darned — some creative pitmasters want to season the meat with foreign spices and rubs, or just use unusual cuts of poultry, red meat or seafood as an alternative to ribs and brisket.
Dying to bite into some of these fantastic options the next time you visit the Windy City? Check out three of the best BBQ in Chicago South suburbs and nearby neighborhoods.
Forget about leaving the table anything but filled to the gills when you patronize classy Lillie Q’s, now a Wicker Park staple. The meals are generous, the portion sizes are abundant and the flavors are intense. You can also buy some of their signature BBQ sauces to take home.
At Rush and Division, you can find Chicago q, your typical Memphis or Kansas City type joint complete with red and white decor. Fill your belly with smoked meats from all those beloved BBQ choices: pork, beef and chicken. Be sure to taste-test the competition-style ribs, too.
On Grand Boulevard sits Honey 1, a testament to the old-school aquarium-style smoker that ushered in an era of Chicago BBQ in the early 20th century. Try their rib tips for an entree that will have you wishing you could eat there every day.
Maybe Chicago is not on your itinerary to visit this year. You can still emulate the style of hearty Chicago barbeque using your backyard grill. We recommend trying our Baby Back Throwdown and Hot ‘N Fast Brisket recipes. You will get all the benefits of Chicago BBQ without ever leaving your block, except to get to the store and buy your favorite cuts of meat.
Don’t have a grill you love? We can fix that! Take a look at the grills and smokers we have available and find your perfect match.
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