I'm looking for places that could meet the KCBS BBQ standard for making real "Q". Interested in select group of opinions, recommendations and critiques of real BBQ places in the Chicagoland area. Here are the criteria.
So what qualifies?
* They key word here is SMOKER, they MUST have and use one on the premises!
* Places that use traditional BBQ woods to slow cook; hickory, oak, apple wood etc. And not just lump charcoal or briquettes or God help us, gas!
* Meat that is presented with the sauce on the side, or if it’s on, it’s lightly basted at the end of the cooking process. Not BBQ stew!
* Places that offer the "Holy Trinity" of BBQ; They MUST offer ribs (baby-back or spare or both), pulled pork AND beef brisket, all three to qualify. Bonus points if they can actually cook them all well. Quality meats slow cooked for hours in a smoker, 4+ hr for ribs, 15-20 for shoulders/butts or briskets.
* Places that offer smoked turkey, ham, bologna, pork tenderloin, fish etc are a definite bonus
* Chicken is an optional “ok to offer”, so are rib tips.
* Sides; should offer fresh cut or at least good quality French fries, homemade coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans etc.
And what does NOT qualify?
* OK, let’s not argue about them, although they are good for what they are, and to all those who like them, please understand, they just don't fit this particular list’s criteria; Anchor Bar, Portillo's, Carson's, Weber Grill.
* Anyplace that bakes, boils, steams, or braises the meat, no exceptions!
* BBQ painters; those places that paint BBQ sauce on the pre-cooked meat (usually baked/boiled) with BBQ sauce, and then char grill it for a minute(almost always over gas) to get a crust or grill marks and then call it BBQ.
* Grilled food in general - if it's prepared over high heat (cooked at over 250 degrees) or cooked fast like a hamburger, it’s not BBQ.
* “Faux Q” or fake BBQ, pressed, frozen, or processed shredded pork sandwiches don’t fit here, i.e. the McRib sandwich.
Try to think of Famous Dave's or Bandanna's menu as the basic benchmark to start from and now work your way up. They both offer pretty much this basic menu and do a fair job (maybe a 6 out of 10 points) especially for being large chains.
Personally, I'm looking for places that are Memphis or Texas style as opposed to the Deep South, Carolina's or KC, but any of the true regional BBQ styles are indeed welcome.