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A hand squeezes barbecue sauce from a bottle onto a row of barbecue ribs.
The barbecue sauce is flowing along the Chicago River.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

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Explore a Local Barbecue Juggernaut’s Expansive Outpost Along the Chicago River

Soul & Smoke is slinging smoked meats at Rockwell on the River

Over two years, D’Andre Carter has transformed his barbecue business Soul & Smoke from a fledgling suburban food truck to one of the most sought-after spots in the city for tender spare ribs, juicy pulled pork, and smoky rib tips. That evolution reached new heights in June when Carter unveiled a new dine-in outpost at Rockwell on the River — an expansive event space that also houses Metropolitan Brewing, Judson & Moore distillery, and Metropolis Coffee Co. at 3057 N. Rockwell Street.

The neighborhood is familiar ground for Soul & Smoke. In 2021, Carter opened a to-go-only ghost kitchen on Spaulding Avenue — the new counter service outpost allows fans and newcomers to get facetime with the team (an impossibility with takeout and delivery) and enjoy sweeping views of the Chicago River.

A male chef smiles and poses with a tray of barbecue ribs.
D’Andre Carter has carved out a noteworthy niche in Chicago’s busy barbecue scene.

The first tenant to offer food inside Rockwell on the River, Soul & Smoke has also used the space to introduce Beer for the Soul, a Belgian pale ale created in partnership with suburban beer maker Sketchbook Brewing. The Avondale ghost kitchen closed with the launch of the Rockwell restaurant, which is now the business’ sole hub in the neighborhood for pickup, delivery, and catering.

Carter opened Soul & Smoke’s first to-go location in Evanston during the early stages of the pandemic and quickly garnered a following for both his smoked meats and good works: over the years, he’s partnered with José Andrés’s charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed underserved Chicagoans and first responders; participated in WCK’s initiative to bring free food to voters near especially busy polling places, and donating a portion of profits from his bottled barbecue sauce to families in need. Meanwhile, he’s also snagged a residency at the mammoth food hall, Time Out Market Chicago, in Fulton Market.

Look around inside the red-hot barbecue spot in the photos below.

A man's hand holds a slab of smoked meat.
D’Andre Carter knows a thing or two about smoked meat.
A wooden counter space in a restaurant with a sign that reads “Keep it saucy and soulful.”
Former ghost kitchen patrons can get to know the team behind Soul & Smoke.

An indoor dining area entirely enclosed by windows.
Diners can bask in lovely views while steering clear of precipitation.
A wooden outdoor deck with tables and umbrellas overlooking the Chicago River.
When the weather allows, diners can count on barbecue, beer, and basking in the sunshine.
A rectangular metal tray holds a slab of ribs smothered in dark barbecue sauce and a can of beer.
Sketchbook Brewing’s Beer for the Soul is designed to compliment rich, meaty barbecue.
A male chef lifts sliced barbecue meat from a cutting board into a paper container.
Soul & Smoke is the first food vendor inside four-year-old Rockwell on the River.
A paper container holds slices of smoked brisket.
Smoked brisket is among the brand’s best-loved offerings.

A white paper cup holds a serving of macaroni and cheese.
Mac and cheese.
A white paper container holds a serving of chicken gumbo topped with a pile of white rice and chopped chives.
Chicken gumbo.
A row of cocktails in bottles.
Ever the entrepreneur, D’Andre Carter has also rolled out a line of bottled cocktails.

Soul & Smoke Avondale

3517 N. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, IL 60618 Visit Website

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