Where To Order BBQ This Weekend
There’s a football game on Sunday. Some might call it a “big game.” And whether you own a spreadsheet of Tom Brady’s third down completion rates or weren’t even aware the NFL played a season this year, you too can rank new commercials, get mad about the halftime show, and eventually pass out on the couch from eating too much. These BBQ spots will help with the latter.
Soul & Smoke has a familiar story: a catering business designed for events buys a food truck and pivots to takeout and delivery because of the pandemic. But now this outstanding barbecue spot in Evanston has (along with a food truck) a spot in Rockwell on the River in Avondale, and a stall at Time Out Market in Fulton Market. And not only are the ribs and the meaty brisket incredible (currently the best in the city), but the sides (like creamy mac and cheese, cornbread muffins, and spicy baked beans) are all just as great as the meat.
Green Street is from the people behind Au Cheval, and somehow (whether it’s burgers, Italian food, ramen, or BBQ) everything this team does is fantastic. We suspect there’s some sort of Faustian deal going on. But we’re not here to talk about that, we’re here to tell you about their “Big Game” specials, like smoked queso dip, nachos, and sliders.
Lem’s has been around since 1951 and is probably the one BBQ restaurant your uncle who’s visited here exactly once knows about. History aside, this carryout-only spot in Chatham still makes some of our favorite ribs in the city. The ribs are aquarium-smoked, and the sweet, vinegary mild sauce is a perfect counterpart to the fatty meat. Also, the ribs come on a bed of fries that soak everything up, including Aaron Rodgers’ tears.
The sheer perfection of the rib tips at Lexington Betty’s earns them a spot on any BBQ list, football-related or otherwise. They’re meaty and tender, with a deep pink smoke ring and a ton of flavor. And it’s essential that these tips get paired with the candied yams, mac and cheese, and greens. Right now, there are two places you can find Lexington Betty’s—a food truck and at One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman.
If you ask someone their favorite place for brisket, there’s a 99% chance they’ll say Smoque. Understandably - the brisket here is outstanding. But the ribs are too, and shouldn’t be overlooked. They’re smoked over oak and applewood, and coated with a Memphis-style dry rub. You can choose between baby back, St. Louis style, or a combo platter of both - which is what you should do even though ties are stupid. And yes, you can tell soccer we said that.
If you haven’t had BBQ from Full Slab in Stony Island, the Super Bowl is the perfect time to correct this. The ribs are tender and chewy, have a satisfyingly charred bark, and are lacquered with a sweet, slightly spicy, Chicago sauce. Also, for god’s sake, get the baked beans. They’re tangy, sweet, and will change your life.
We’re pretty sure ATX appeared out of nowhere at the end of 2020. This takeout spot (you order from a window) is located on a residential side street in Lincoln Square. The Tex Mex menu is full of things like birria tacos, elotes, and queso blanco. Their birria tacos are made with brisket, and come with a rich consomé that really complements the smoky meat. We really like their baby back and St. Louis-style ribs, which come with a thick, sweet sauce we really like. And while you won’t find classic BBQ sides like cornbread or mac and cheese, the elotes and queso are so perfect you won’t even miss them.
County BBQ in Little Italy has had some ups and downs, including closing for two years after a fire and losing their original BBQ chef. Despite all that, their BBQ continues to be delicious. The St. Louis-style ribs are served dry, and heavily coated with a rub that’s so tasty on its own you won’t feel the need to add any sauce. And while we love the meat, make sure you order plenty of sides - particularly the corn pudding, pork puppies (hush puppies filled with cheese and pulled pork), and mac and cheese.
In case your game day plans involve a small get together of, say, just you and your goldfish, consider hitting the drive thru at Earls. This BBQ spot in Jefferson Park has a menu full of $15 BBQ platters that are perfect for one person. Get the ribs, which have a crispy bark that kind of reminds us of bacon, mac and cheese, Texas toast, and charred corn.