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Smoque's St. Louis ribs
Smoque's St. Louis ribs
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13 Essential Chicago Barbecue Rib Joints, Mapped

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Smoque's St. Louis ribs
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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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Barn & Company

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950 W Wrightwood Ave
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 832-4000
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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.

2. Carson's

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612 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 280-9200
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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

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1160 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 642-1160
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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

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2416 W Schubert Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 782-1800
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Native Texans have raved about Owen & Engine's smoky sibling. They continue to quietly produce tender baby backs.

5. Honey 1 BBQ

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746 E 43rd St
Chicago, IL 60653
(773) 285-9455
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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

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1800 S Racine Ave
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 226-7427
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The Memphis-style baby backs are cooked low and slow giving Pilsen a wonderful neighborhood barbecue spot.

7. Lem's BBQ House

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311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619
(773) 994-2428
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Lem's continues the tradition of the Lemons family, using methods the restaurant first implemented at the South Side institution back in 1954.

Nick Murway

8. Lillie's Q

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1856 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 772-5500
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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

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6954 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60645
(773) 675-1410
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Jared Leonard's Rogers Park barbecue shack continues to star, serving both pork and beef ribs.

10. Smalls.

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4009 N Albany Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(312) 857-4221
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The Filipino/Korean counter-spot in Irving Park serves some of the city's most unique ribs.

11. Smoke Daddy

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1804 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 772-6656
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This popular Wicker Park spot serves spare and baby back ribs that are usually reliable.

12. Smoque BBQ

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3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7427
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The St. Louis and baby back ribs are special at this North Side barbecue shack. Get there early enough before they run out.

Nick Murway

13. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern

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1655 N Sedgwick St
Chicago, IL 60614
(312) 266-1616
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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.

1. Barn & Company

950 W Wrightwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60614

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.

950 W Wrightwood Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

2. Carson's

612 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

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.

612 N Wells St
Chicago, IL 60654

3. Chicago Q

1160 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610

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.

1160 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60610

4. Fat Willy's Rib Shack

2416 W Schubert Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Native Texans have raved about Owen & Engine's smoky sibling. They continue to quietly produce tender baby backs.

2416 W Schubert Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

5. Honey 1 BBQ

746 E 43rd St, Chicago, IL 60653

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.

746 E 43rd St
Chicago, IL 60653

6. Honky Tonk BBQ

1800 S Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

The Memphis-style baby backs are cooked low and slow giving Pilsen a wonderful neighborhood barbecue spot.

1800 S Racine Ave
Chicago, IL 60608

7. Lem's BBQ House

311 E 75th St, Chicago, IL 60619
Nick Murway

Lem's continues the tradition of the Lemons family, using methods the restaurant first implemented at the South Side institution back in 1954.

311 E 75th St
Chicago, IL 60619

8. Lillie's Q

1856 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

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.

1856 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

9. Rub's Backcountry Smokehouse

6954 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60645

Jared Leonard's Rogers Park barbecue shack continues to star, serving both pork and beef ribs.

6954 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60645

10. Smalls.

4009 N Albany Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

The Filipino/Korean counter-spot in Irving Park serves some of the city's most unique ribs.

4009 N Albany Ave
Chicago, IL 60618

11. Smoke Daddy

1804 W Division St, Chicago, IL 60622

This popular Wicker Park spot serves spare and baby back ribs that are usually reliable.

1804 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622

12. Smoque BBQ

3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641
Nick Murway

The St. Louis and baby back ribs are special at this North Side barbecue shack. Get there early enough before they run out.

3800 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60641

13. Twin Anchors Restaurant & Tavern

1655 N Sedgwick St, Chicago, IL 60614

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.

1655 N Sedgwick St
Chicago, IL 60614

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