There’s nothing better than a solid, sticky rack of ribs. Except maybe some tangy pulled pork. Or super tender brisket.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best barbecue that Chicagoland has to offer. So grab your wetnaps and hit up one of these tremendous spots offering your favorite craveable ‘cue dishes.
What It Is: Spiaggia and Tru alum chef Brian Bruns's "chef-focused restaurant that takes in consideration all different styles of open fire cooking," per the restaurant's website.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Rib tips may be the Windy City's cut of choice, but, for now, that’s not a priority for Chef Brian Bruns, whose brisket ranks among the best barbecue in town. Rubbed with salt and pepper and then set in a custom-built, 500-gallon barrel smoker for seven hours, the meat arrives so juicy and tender that you won’t even want for sauce."
What to Order: Start the meal off with smoked turkey wings (served with your choice of Buffalo-style or with special sauce) before moving into mains like burnt ends mac & cheese or brisket "like a steak" served with either vin rouge and blue cheese or caper hollandaise.
What It Is: The cult favorite from Barry Sorkin that has two locations—the original spot on North Pulaski as well as a stall in Revival Food Hall.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Shortly after doors open at 11:00 A. M., the room fills with patrons eager to dig into smoking plates of 'cue. Once inside, peruse the chalkboard menu; then order cafeteria-style before staking your claim among the communal seating."
What to Order: “The half-and-half sandwich, piled with pulled pork and brisket, is the best of both worlds, with chunky shreds of tender pork and spice-rubbed slices of pink-rimmed beef spooned with vinegary barbecue sauce,” note inspectors.
What It Is: One of the oldest restaurants in Chicago dating back to 1932. Known for gloriously-tender baby-back ribs.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Within the brick walls that have housed Twin Anchors since 1932, generations have made their way across the checkerboard linoleum floor to throw a quarter in the jukebox and get saucy with a slab of their legendary ribs in one of the curved booths. Though the bar is wall-to-wall on weekends, most weekdays are low-key, with families and groups ready for a casual night out."
What to Order: The aforementioned ribs available in full or half rack and basted with the sauce of your choice. Also up for grabs, a quartet of giant grilled shrimp, a slow-roasted half chicken and a 9-ounce char-broiled filet mignon.
What It Is: After a fire shuttered the restaurant in 2016, DMK Restaurants's County Barbecue is back like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
What Our Inspectors Say: "One of the area's top barbecue spots is back in action after an unfortunate fire that forced them to close for two years. The kitchen is still up to snuff and has resumed without missing a beat. Perfectly cooked rib tips—a Chicago classic—and precise slices of Texas-style brisket highlight deliciously smoky flavor and meltingly tender meat."
What to Order: St. Louis-style spare ribs, pulled pork, hot links—order some of each and get yourself a to-go container. Inspectors also note that sides including collard greens and the mac and cheese are deeply addictive and not to be missed.
Photos courtesy of County Barbecue.