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Sliced brisket with red sauce drizzled.
Soul & Smoke’s brisket is tender and juicy.
Soul & Smoke/Neil Burger

Chicago’s Essential Barbecue Restaurants

Feast on ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and other delights

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Soul & Smoke’s brisket is tender and juicy.
| Soul & Smoke/Neil Burger

Chicago is far from the South but residents here know a thing or two about barbecue. From tender Texas brisket to succulent St. Louis ribs, Chicagoans have come close to perfecting various styles of smoked meats. To help narrow down the long list of places in the city to find finger-licking food, check out the following 20 pit masters who have mastered the craft.

The two new additions to the list are Babygold BBQ and Soul & Smoke.

State and local officials have lifted a variety of COVID-19 restrictions, including allowing restaurant management to waive mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers. Additionally, fully vaccinated guests don’t count against capacity limits. As of April 29, Chicago restaurants are permitted to serve customers indoors with a 50 percent maximum capacity per room, or 100 people — whichever is fewer. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Soul & Smoke - Evanston

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1601 Payne St
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 859-2732
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Chef D’Andre Carter and wife Heather Bublick have brought back barbecue glory to Evanston, a suburb with a legacy of smoked meats thanks to Hecky’s, Merle’s, and more. Carter, a South Side Chicago native, has shown an obsession for barbecue with Texas-style brisket, tender baby backs, and more. The operation has locations in ghost kitchens in Avondale and South Loop, and there’s a truck that will make stops at Logan Square farmers market and more. Later in June, they’ll also debut a stall inside Time Out Market Chicago in Fulton Market where a special hot link will debut and they’ll also sell bottled barbecue sauce.

www.neiljohnburger.com

2. Earl's BBQ

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4835 N Austin Ave
Chicago, IL 60630
(773) 628-7870
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This Jefferson Park spot lures fans with items like a brisket burrito and pulled pork poutine, for breakfast. Other favorites include smoked salmon, rib tips, and smoked polish sausage. Earl’s is equipped with a handy drive-thru, ideal for social distancing, and has a handful of picnic tables for outdoor dining. Lincoln Park sister restaurant Ella’s BBQ is also open.

3. Smoque BBQ

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3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7427
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The place that started Chicago’s barbecue renaissance is well-known and beloved by smoked meats enthusiasts. Smoque holds a long-standing spot on the Eater 38 thanks to its melting pot of styles. The meaty St. Louis ribs are slathered with a Memphis-style dry rub and smoked over apple and oak, while the moist and tender brisket by way of Texas is one of the finest in town. Sides are no afterthought, either, as homemade mac and cheese, brisket chili, and BBQ beans are all excellent. Staff have set up a covered and socially-distanced patio that’s also BYOB.

A pile of brisket
Smoque’s wildly popular brisket
Smoque BBQ [Official Photo]

4. Lexington Betty Smoke House

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6954 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60707
(773) 309-8240
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Pit master Dominque Leach, who worked at fine-dining restaurant Spiaggia before opening her own establishment, smokes her meats using applewood and offers pork and turkey rib tips, smoked chicken, and brisket. She describes her barbecue style as Central Texas-meets-Memphis. Get the goods at Leach’s North Avenue restaurant or at her stall in One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman and on the Near West Side inside Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall.

5. Smoke Daddy

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1804 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 772-6656
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Barbecue, beers, and blues are all that’s needed for a great time and this Wicker Park spot has been providing them since 1994. Diners who are indecisive (or extra hungry) should try one of the platters, which comes with choice of several meats, but make sure to also get an order of the smoked wings. For dessert, the skillet cookie is among the city’s best. The restaurant has a second outpost inside Hotel Zachary in Wrigleyville.

A metal tray filled with barbecue meats.
Smoke Daddy has served up some of Chicago’s best barbecue since 1994.
Smoke Daddy [Official Photo]

6. Bro-N-Laws Bar-B-Q

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3820 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60651
(773) 227-8344
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South Side-style barbecue is, understandably, a rarity on the other parts of town. This Humboldt Park spot is the welcome exception to that norm, utilizing an aquarium smoker to produce tasty rib and turkey tips, links, and slabs of ribs. There’s a non-pork smoker, too, for folks with dietary restrictions.

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BBQ turkey tips

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7. Bub City

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435 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 610-4200
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From the beer can American flag to the cowboy mannequin lurking in the women’s bathroom, Lettuce Entertain You’s barbecue restaurant pays homage to the South. The menu features the usual suspects, such as hot links, smoked wings, brisket, and baby back ribs. Don’t skip the fried chicken — dipped in buttermilk with secret spices— indulgent sides, or extensive whiskey collection either. Locations in River North and Rosemont have outdoor seating and offer carryout.

Smoked, sauced and ready to go!

Posted by Bub City on Saturday, June 13, 2020

8. Lillie’s Q

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417 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 295-1270
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After nine years in business, Charlie McKenna’s popular Wicker Park restaurant has made some changes. The menu has expanded to include new items like Texas brisket and pimento cheese sausage while the service is now counter. Old favorites — fried pickles, tri tips — remain, as do Lillie’s Q’s lineup of bottled sauces, which range from tangy Carolina Gold to a mayonnaise-based Alabama white barbecue sauce. McKenna relocated to a new space inside West Town brewery District Brew Yards in 2020.

9. Green Street Smoked Meats

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112 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 754-0434
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Hogsalt Hospitality operates a variety of successful restaurants, including a cafeteria-style smokehouse located inside a former West Loop warehouse. Texas-inspired meats, like brisket, pastrami, pork belly, and ribs, are sold by the half pound. The simple menu also offers several sides as well as Frito pie topped with brisket chili. Green Street offers patio seating as well as delivery and carryout.

A smattering of barbecue meats and side dishes
Pick up the good stuff in half-pound increments at Green Street.
Green Street Smoked Meats [Official Photo]

10. County Barbeque

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1352 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 265-0836
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County Barbecue, under new ownership, operates like a meat-and-three spot with rib tips, St. Louis ribs, Texas brisket, hot links, and more. A fire damaged the space in 2016, but the space has been rebuilt and continued to deliver quality smoked meats.

A platter of baby back ribs and sweet potato fries. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

11. Babygold BBQ

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6613 Roosevelt Rd
Berwyn, IL 60402
(708) 637-4364
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Chef John Manion knows his way around a kitchen. When Wicker Park was at its apex of cool, Mas along Division Street was one of the hottest spots around. Before Fulton Market grew into a magnet for brands, La Sirena Clandestina gave Chicago a taste of Brazil. His Latin steakhouse, El Che Steakhouse & Bar, continues to reinvent itself in West Loop. Now, Manion has taken all that meaty experience and applied it to barbecue inside FitzGerald’s, one of the Chicago area’s most loved music venues. Babygold is style agnostic, kind of plucking from a variety of regional traditions to offer top-notch baby-back ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. A giant combo platter is dubbed “Berwyn Style.” The suburbs has marketed itself as a one suburbs that doesn’t feel like a suburb. But with Babygold, Chicagoans may actually have a reason to venture out. Veggie options are available.

Babygold Barbecue is killing it in Berwyn.
FitzGeralds/DTKindler Photography

12. Honky Tonk BBQ

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1800 S Racine Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-7427
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Pitmaster Willie Wagner honed his skills on the competition circuit before opening a Wild West-themed smoked meats destination in Pilsen. His Memphis-style, dry-rubbed barbecue includes brisket, baby back and St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, and some of the city’s finest pulled pork. For the time being, Honky Tonk is exclusively offering takeout and delivery.

Pickup or delivery?

Posted by Honky Tonk Bbq on Friday, April 24, 2020

13. Honey 1 BBQ

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746 East 43rd Street
Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 285-9455

Owner and Arkansas native Robert Adams runs this acclaimed barbecue spot with his son Robert Jr. and together the two slow-cook their meats over wood fire in a glass-walled “aquarium” smoker. The result is tender, meaty, and lean spare ribs, rib tips, hot links, and pulled pork that’s gained a devoted following. And in keeping with the spirit of other South Side spots, they also offer non-BBQ items such as chicken wings, smoked chicken, fried fish dinners, and burgers. For now, Honey 1’s menu items are only available for carryout.

14. Leon's Barbecue

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4550 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 247-4360
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Patrons won’t find seating or virtually any type of amenity at this South Side staple but they will enjoy grilled slabs of ribs, tender rib tips, and succulent hot links. Call ahead to place an order or be prepared to wait as lines are common. Leon’s operates a second location on 106th Street.

15. Uncle J's BBQ

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502 E 47th St
Chicago, IL 60653
(872) 244-3535

Chicago's barbecue community shed many tears when longtime local stalwart Uncle John's BBQ closed. But pitmaster Mack Sevier's daughter spawned this under-the-radar spot that appropriates many of Uncle John's favorites, including the fantastic rib tips and hot links.

Uncle J’s Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

16. Trice’s Original Slab Bar-B-Que

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1918 E 71st St
Chicago, IL 60649

Slab is a family-owned smoke stack that serves links, rib tips, chicken, and baby-back and St. Louis-style ribs. The South Shore restaurant uses hickory in its aquarium-style smokers. Slab also makes its side dishes — fries, cole slaw, and macaroni and cheese — on site. Staff are currently offering carryout and delivery.

17. Lem's BBQ House

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311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619
(773) 994-2428
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Chicagoans’ love of rib tips and its popularity can be traced back to this small South Side smoke shack. Lem’s has been an institution for more than 60 years, serving smoky, finger-licking tips with a tangy, vinegary sauce. There’s little else available on the menu except for some juicy hot links and fried chicken, but everyone should head to 75th Street to understand why the lines stretch out the door.

18. Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe

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6501 W 79th St
Burbank, IL 60459
(708) 229-8700
Visit Website

A popular spot in the southern suburbs, Chuck’s is a blend of Cajun-Creole, Mexican, and Southern cooking. The barbecue is cooked low and slow and stands up to any competitor in Chicago. The brisket and rib tips are standouts but diners should get the sampler platter for a taste of two or three meats. Staff have set up a covered out door patio. A second Chuck’s outpost is located in Darien.

19. The Full Slab

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8340 S Stony Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60617
(312) 620-7522
Visit Website

This cozy Chatham spot serves up St. Louis-style ribs, rib tips, wings, turkey tips, and more. Former pharmaceutical engineer Samuel Gilbert claims his travels to barbecue hotspots like Memphis and North Carolina gave him a chance to study the craft. The restaurant is takeout and delivery-only.

20. I-57 Rib House

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1524 W 115th St
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 429-1111

Located right off Interstate 57, this no-frills shack puts the spotlight on poultry, serving barbecue that’s a bit less common in the form of turkey tips and turkey links. Traditional rib tips and hot links are also available for carryout and delivery.

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1. Soul & Smoke - Evanston

1601 Payne St, Evanston, IL 60201
www.neiljohnburger.com

Chef D’Andre Carter and wife Heather Bublick have brought back barbecue glory to Evanston, a suburb with a legacy of smoked meats thanks to Hecky’s, Merle’s, and more. Carter, a South Side Chicago native, has shown an obsession for barbecue with Texas-style brisket, tender baby backs, and more. The operation has locations in ghost kitchens in Avondale and South Loop, and there’s a truck that will make stops at Logan Square farmers market and more. Later in June, they’ll also debut a stall inside Time Out Market Chicago in Fulton Market where a special hot link will debut and they’ll also sell bottled barbecue sauce.

1601 Payne St
Evanston, IL 60201

2. Earl's BBQ

4835 N Austin Ave, Chicago, IL 60630

This Jefferson Park spot lures fans with items like a brisket burrito and pulled pork poutine, for breakfast. Other favorites include smoked salmon, rib tips, and smoked polish sausage. Earl’s is equipped with a handy drive-thru, ideal for social distancing, and has a handful of picnic tables for outdoor dining. Lincoln Park sister restaurant Ella’s BBQ is also open.

4835 N Austin Ave
Chicago, IL 60630

3. Smoque BBQ

3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641
A pile of brisket
Smoque’s wildly popular brisket
Smoque BBQ [Official Photo]

The place that started Chicago’s barbecue renaissance is well-known and beloved by smoked meats enthusiasts. Smoque holds a long-standing spot on the Eater 38 thanks to its melting pot of styles. The meaty St. Louis ribs are slathered with a Memphis-style dry rub and smoked over apple and oak, while the moist and tender brisket by way of Texas is one of the finest in town. Sides are no afterthought, either, as homemade mac and cheese, brisket chili, and BBQ beans are all excellent. Staff have set up a covered and socially-distanced patio that’s also BYOB.

3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641

4. Lexington Betty Smoke House

6954 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60707

Pit master Dominque Leach, who worked at fine-dining restaurant Spiaggia before opening her own establishment, smokes her meats using applewood and offers pork and turkey rib tips, smoked chicken, and brisket. She describes her barbecue style as Central Texas-meets-Memphis. Get the goods at Leach’s North Avenue restaurant or at her stall in One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman and on the Near West Side inside Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall.

6954 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60707

5. Smoke Daddy

1804 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622
A metal tray filled with barbecue meats.
Smoke Daddy has served up some of Chicago’s best barbecue since 1994.
Smoke Daddy [Official Photo]

Barbecue, beers, and blues are all that’s needed for a great time and this Wicker Park spot has been providing them since 1994. Diners who are indecisive (or extra hungry) should try one of the platters, which comes with choice of several meats, but make sure to also get an order of the smoked wings. For dessert, the skillet cookie is among the city’s best. The restaurant has a second outpost inside Hotel Zachary in Wrigleyville.

1804 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

6. Bro-N-Laws Bar-B-Q

3820 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60651

South Side-style barbecue is, understandably, a rarity on the other parts of town. This Humboldt Park spot is the welcome exception to that norm, utilizing an aquarium smoker to produce tasty rib and turkey tips, links, and slabs of ribs. There’s a non-pork smoker, too, for folks with dietary restrictions.

3820 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60651

7. Bub City

435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60654

From the beer can American flag to the cowboy mannequin lurking in the women’s bathroom, Lettuce Entertain You’s barbecue restaurant pays homage to the South. The menu features the usual suspects, such as hot links, smoked wings, brisket, and baby back ribs. Don’t skip the fried chicken — dipped in buttermilk with secret spices— indulgent sides, or extensive whiskey collection either. Locations in River North and Rosemont have outdoor seating and offer carryout.

435 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654

8. Lillie’s Q

417 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

After nine years in business, Charlie McKenna’s popular Wicker Park restaurant has made some changes. The menu has expanded to include new items like Texas brisket and pimento cheese sausage while the service is now counter. Old favorites — fried pickles, tri tips — remain, as do Lillie’s Q’s lineup of bottled sauces, which range from tangy Carolina Gold to a mayonnaise-based Alabama white barbecue sauce. McKenna relocated to a new space inside West Town brewery District Brew Yards in 2020.

417 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

9. Green Street Smoked Meats

112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607
A smattering of barbecue meats and side dishes
Pick up the good stuff in half-pound increments at Green Street.
Green Street Smoked Meats [Official Photo]

Hogsalt Hospitality operates a variety of successful restaurants, including a cafeteria-style smokehouse located inside a former West Loop warehouse. Texas-inspired meats, like brisket, pastrami, pork belly, and ribs, are sold by the half pound. The simple menu also offers several sides as well as Frito pie topped with brisket chili. Green Street offers patio seating as well as delivery and carryout.

112 N Green St
Chicago, IL 60607

10. County Barbeque

1352 W Taylor St, Chicago, IL 60607
A platter of baby back ribs and sweet potato fries. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

County Barbecue, under new ownership, operates like a meat-and-three spot with rib tips, St. Louis ribs, Texas brisket, hot links, and more. A fire damaged the space in 2016, but the space has been rebuilt and continued to deliver quality smoked meats.

1352 W Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60607

11. Babygold BBQ

6613 Roosevelt Rd, Berwyn, IL 60402
Babygold Barbecue is killing it in Berwyn.
FitzGeralds/DTKindler Photography

Chef John Manion knows his way around a kitchen. When Wicker Park was at its apex of cool, Mas along Division Street was one of the hottest spots around. Before Fulton Market grew into a magnet for brands, La Sirena Clandestina gave Chicago a taste of Brazil. His Latin steakhouse, El Che Steakhouse & Bar, continues to reinvent itself in West Loop. Now, Manion has taken all that meaty experience and applied it to barbecue inside FitzGerald’s, one of the Chicago area’s most loved music venues. Babygold is style agnostic, kind of plucking from a variety of regional traditions to offer top-notch baby-back ribs, brisket, and pulled pork. A giant combo platter is dubbed “Berwyn Style.” The suburbs has marketed itself as a one suburbs that doesn’t feel like a suburb. But with Babygold, Chicagoans may actually have a reason to venture out. Veggie options are available.

6613 Roosevelt Rd
Berwyn, IL 60402

12. Honky Tonk BBQ

1800 S Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

Pitmaster Willie Wagner honed his skills on the competition circuit before opening a Wild West-themed smoked meats destination in Pilsen. His Memphis-style, dry-rubbed barbecue includes brisket, baby back and St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, and some of the city’s finest pulled pork. For the time being, Honky Tonk is exclusively offering takeout and delivery.

1800 S Racine Ave
Chicago, IL 60608

13. Honey 1 BBQ

746 East 43rd Street, Chicago, IL 60653

Owner and Arkansas native Robert Adams runs this acclaimed barbecue spot with his son Robert Jr. and together the two slow-cook their meats over wood fire in a glass-walled “aquarium” smoker. The result is tender, meaty, and lean spare ribs, rib tips, hot links, and pulled pork that’s gained a devoted following. And in keeping with the spirit of other South Side spots, they also offer non-BBQ items such as chicken wings, smoked chicken, fried fish dinners, and burgers. For now, Honey 1’s menu items are only available for carryout.

746 East 43rd Street
Chicago, IL 60653

14. Leon's Barbecue

4550 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60632

Patrons won’t find seating or virtually any type of amenity at this South Side staple but they will enjoy grilled slabs of ribs, tender rib tips, and succulent hot links. Call ahead to place an order or be prepared to wait as lines are common. Leon’s operates a second location on 106th Street.

4550 S Archer Ave
Chicago, IL 60632

15. Uncle J's BBQ

502 E 47th St, Chicago, IL 60653
Uncle J’s Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Chicago's barbecue community shed many tears when longtime local stalwart Uncle John's BBQ closed. But pitmaster Mack Sevier's daughter spawned this under-the-radar spot that appropriates many of Uncle John's favorites, including the fantastic rib tips and hot links.

502 E 47th St
Chicago, IL 60653

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16. Trice’s Original Slab Bar-B-Que

1918 E 71st St, Chicago, IL 60649

Slab is a family-owned smoke stack that serves links, rib tips, chicken, and baby-back and St. Louis-style ribs. The South Shore restaurant uses hickory in its aquarium-style smokers. Slab also makes its side dishes — fries, cole slaw, and macaroni and cheese — on site. Staff are currently offering carryout and delivery.

1918 E 71st St
Chicago, IL 60649

17. Lem's BBQ House

311 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619

Chicagoans’ love of rib tips and its popularity can be traced back to this small South Side smoke shack. Lem’s has been an institution for more than 60 years, serving smoky, finger-licking tips with a tangy, vinegary sauce. There’s little else available on the menu except for some juicy hot links and fried chicken, but everyone should head to 75th Street to understand why the lines stretch out the door.

311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619

18. Chuck's Southern Comforts Cafe

6501 W 79th St, Burbank, IL 60459

A popular spot in the southern suburbs, Chuck’s is a blend of Cajun-Creole, Mexican, and Southern cooking. The barbecue is cooked low and slow and stands up to any competitor in Chicago. The brisket and rib tips are standouts but diners should get the sampler platter for a taste of two or three meats. Staff have set up a covered out door patio. A second Chuck’s outpost is located in Darien.

6501 W 79th St
Burbank, IL 60459

19. The Full Slab

8340 S Stony Island Ave, Chicago, IL 60617

This cozy Chatham spot serves up St. Louis-style ribs, rib tips, wings, turkey tips, and more. Former pharmaceutical engineer Samuel Gilbert claims his travels to barbecue hotspots like Memphis and North Carolina gave him a chance to study the craft. The restaurant is takeout and delivery-only.

8340 S Stony Island Ave
Chicago, IL 60617

20. I-57 Rib House

1524 W 115th St, Chicago, IL 60643

Located right off Interstate 57, this no-frills shack puts the spotlight on poultry, serving barbecue that’s a bit less common in the form of turkey tips and turkey links. Traditional rib tips and hot links are also available for carryout and delivery.

1524 W 115th St
Chicago, IL 60643

Related Maps