The smoky smell of traditional barbecue ribs is intoxicating enough to make anyone hungry. And while folks will inevitably argue about what makes real barbecue and what defines Chicago's contributions to that craft, sit back and check out this list of best barbecued ribs. Feel free to argue what should belong and shouldn't belong in the comments. Presented in alphabetical order.Read More
13 Essential Chicago Barbecue Rib Joints, Mapped
Check out the racks
1. Barn & Company
Pray that you arrive on a non-gameday, as this collaboration between Gary Wiviott and the folks behind The Hubbard Inn can get packed thanks to the throng of college kids nearby. But Wiviott is serious about this craft, and his hickory-smoked ribs are satisfying.
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Not everyone will like Carson's placement here. Some are just plain against this style, where the meat has more bite and doesn't fall off the bone. That's OK, as this 38-year-old chain has found a place among this city's rib lovers.
3. Chicago Q
The prices are premium at this Gold Coast barbecue spot that now counts Art Smith as pitmaster. The "competition style" ribs remain on the menu, but it's unclear who would order such decadence. The ribs are presented with a variety of sauces giving diners a "best of" taste of styles.
4. Fat Willy's Rib Shack
Native Texans have raved about Owen & Engine's smoky sibling. They continue to quietly produce tender baby backs.
5. Honey 1 BBQ
The history behind Honey 1 is fascinating, as they've moved from Bucktown, bringing their Arkansas-influenced South Side Chicago barbecue to Hyde Park. The pork spare ribs are even better here than on Western Avenue.
6. Honky Tonk BBQ
The Memphis-style baby backs are cooked low and slow giving Pilsen a wonderful neighborhood barbecue spot.
7. Lem's BBQ House
Lem's continues the tradition of the Lemons family, using methods the restaurant first implemented at the South Side institution back in 1954.
8. Lillie's Q
Charlie McKenna's Bucktown spot (there's also a stand at Chicago's French Market) delivers some of the city's best baby backs. It's a rare spot to find Carolinian vinegar sauce in Chicago, so enjoy.
9. Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse
Jared Leonard's Rogers Park barbecue shack continues to star, serving both pork and beef ribs.
The Filipino/Korean counter-spot in Irving Park serves some of the city's most unique ribs.
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11. Smoke Daddy
This popular Wicker Park spot serves spare and baby back ribs that are usually reliable.
12. Smoque BBQ
The St. Louis and baby back ribs are special at this North Side barbecue shack. Get there early enough before they run out.
13. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern
Another entry in the Chicago tavern ribs series, Twin Anchors continues to serve Lincoln Park customers and bathes its bones with a Kansas City-style sauce. The spicy version actually has a nice kick to it, so try that if you're not a barbecue purist.