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Restaurants & Bars 2

Non-rib BBQ

Rene G | Jun 13, 2002 07:11 PM

Okay, a while back I promised to post these comments on various local barbecue places that serve pork or brisket. I forgot but the recent brisket question reminded me.

Sorry some people didn’t like Chuck’s. I appreciated the comments though (I mean that sincerely). The problem--as far as pork or brisket goes--is this is Chicago, not NC or Texas. Some time ago I made a semi-systematic search for decent BBQ pork shoulder and beef brisket and the sad truth is that Chuck’s was among the best I could find in these parts. I like his pork quite a bit and enjoy the brisket in the Chuck’s Special sandwich (the only way I’ve had it). I’ve eaten brisket in Texas and pork in NC (granted, not at any of the most famous places but some good-enough stuff). And a long-ago brisket sandwich at Arthur Bryant’s remains one of my top carnivorous experiences. I would certainly agree that nothing I’ve had in Chicago comes close.

The problem is that the best Chicago BBQ places don’t seem to do pork or brisket. Just ribs, tips, links, and maybe chicken (but that’s often deep fried). Most of the places that do brisket or pork are on the north side or in the suburbs and many aren’t all that great. Following are some abbreviated comments on various places I tried (bear in mind that many comments are old).

In alphabetical order. . .

Bone Daddy
Quite respectable pork sandwich, haven’t tried the brisket yet.

Chuck’s
Some of the better pork in these parts, decent brisket.

Famous Dave’s (now Isaac Hayes)
Overall, mediocre at best but there was something about the brisket I liked. I think it reminded me of my Grandma’s pot roast. Pork not good.

Goose Island Wrigleyville
Pulled pork sandwich was quite terrible and not cheap. Doesn’t remotely resemble real BBQ.

Hecky’s
Pretty good chopped pork and chopped beef sandwiches. I don’t like the way they chop everything and mix it with the sauce, good as it is. Still, a very good place.

Hoxie’s (closed)
I had high hopes when this place opened in Chicago but it went downhill so fast. Everything was poor the last time I went. Now mercifully closed.

Merle’s
Dry pork and beef but not terrible.

NN Smokehouse (closed, now Smoke Country House)
Okay pork, dry brisket. Not a bad place, a shame it closed. I’ll have to give Smoke Country House a try.

Ribs and Bibs
Pork can vary between very good and inedibly fatty. Horrible beef that I think they buy already sliced.

Russell’s
Beef is like dry, unseasoned Italian beef sandwich and the pork is almost indistinguishable from the beef. No smoke flavor whatsoever and bland sauce. I’ve heard so many fond reminisces about this place, I’ll bet it was once very good.

Smoke Daddy
Not bad pork, can’t remember trying brisket.

Smokin’ Woody’s
Poor pork, like a thick slice of baked pork loin. Can’t remember the brisket. Overall very disappointing.

Uncle Bub’s
They seem to try hard but miss the mark. Not terrible.

If anyone can suggest other places I ought to try, I’m game. South and west side places would be especially welcome. Even if you’ve just heard rumors, let me know and I’ll check ‘em out. I’ve heard good things about The Texan in Algonquin but haven’t been but still haven’t gotten out there.

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