Friday, May 11, 2012

Smoque BBQ

Sometimes nothing satisfies like a good ol' slab of barbecue, especially when that good ol' slab comes from a small, smokey joint in an entirely unlikely city.  But to Smoque BBQ, according to their BBQ Manifesto, Chicago isn't an unlikely city at all.  Chicago should have historically been a barbecue mecca, but for some reason it just didn't catch on.  Until Smoque BBQ, that is.

Smoque BBQ's offerings are presented on a huge chalkboard with neat, capitalized markings.  There are tons of options and a fast-paced line, so if you don't want the pressure of ordering immediately, take a deep breath and step to the side.  My group pretty much decided to get nearly everything by the time we approached and spoke with the cashier.

This was our beautiful spread of delicious meats and sides, served on two durable baking-sheet-like trays lined with parchment paper.  Keep in mind that three of the five of us had already had a first lunch at Hot Doug's.  Like eaters at a true barbecue feast, we kept utensils to a minimum.  Let's start with the meats.

First up, the St. Louis Style Ribs.  I love me some ribs, especially when they're packed with meat, extremely tender, and slathered in a meaningful sauce.  This rack had all three.  Each bite left pieces of meat between my teeth, smears of sauce on my cheeks, and a jaw that felt like it had done close to nothing to latch onto such delicious morsels of meat.  The meat was smokey and the sauce was tangy and sweet.  In a matter of minutes, the bones were clean and bare.  The generous char on these ribs easily made these my favorite.

The Pulled Pork was simply amazing.  Aromatically smokey, incredibly juicy and tender, and smartly covered with some enriching barbecue sauce.  Pulled pork can all too often be very stringy and dry, but something about this preparation made each, rich bite packed with flavor, juice, and delicious porkiness.  Of all the meats, I could see the pulled pork best as a sandwich.

The Pulled Pork took second, while the Brisket took third.  While not the absolute juiciest of the bunch, the meat was dense and tender at the same time.  Like a pork steak, the brisket was rich and satisfying.  The beautiful char on the edges of this cut gave each bite that addictive, grilled touch.  Unlike the ribs, however, I couldn't see myself eating more than a couple pieces of this cut.

For good measure, we also threw in an order of the Sausage, even though we had just eaten quite a few at Hot Doug's.  This sausage, however, was notably different, mainly because it had a stronger snap and a much more charcoal-grilled flavor.  The sausage was cooked well, but if I get to go to Smoque BBQ again, I probably wouldn't waste space that could be used to eat more of the other meats.

All of our meats came with some additional sauces.  The one on the left was a thin, tangy sauce that emphasized vinegar more than sweetness, while the one on the right was thick, sweet, and rich with just a slight tang.  They were both delicious on every piece of meat and made each order of meat taste like a duo.

The sides were spectacular.  The BBQ Beans were some of the best I've ever had.  I'm typically not a big bean person when it comes to barbecue, but these were exceptional.  The beans were fully cooked without turning into mush, and the lake of sauce was packed with that sweet, tangy, and smokey barbecue goodness.

I thought the Brisket Chili would be overkill (as if the rest of the meal wasn't overkill enough), but I'm glad we got it.  The brisket fared better in this chili than as a standalone cut, and the rich broth and beans made the chili the most comforting aspect of the meal, especially with the sloshy snow outside.  But beware, Texans, this ain't "real" chili, at least according to your bean-free standards.

The Macaroni and Cheese was great, mainly for its beautifully crusted and breaded ceiling.  The crunch and crisp added a ton to its underlying contents.

The macaroni itself was soft and floppy, as is the case with many macaroni and cheese preparations.  The overcooked pasta was saved, however, by its intensely creamy and cheesy flavor and the crunchy, toasted bread crumbs.

The Cole Slaw was absolutely necessary to our otherwise rich and heavy meal.  And thankfully, this cole slaw was more about vinegar than it was about mayo.  This made for a perfect, refreshing side.

The Cornbread was disappointing.  It's definitely not the worst cornbread I've had, but it's also nowhere near the best I've had.  The bread had a dry, rough, and overcooked texture that only a generous spread of butter could help.  The flavor, however, was great, packed with a particularly sweet corn taste.

The Peach Cobbler was our last side.  Sure, we probably didn't need a dessert to call this meal quits.  But we also didn't need a second lunch, did we?

The apple-crisp-like surface was insanely addictive, packed with sweet crumbs and crispy oats.  The surface opened up to tender, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth peaches.  Comforting, not overly sweet, and appropriately small.  Now if only we could have gotten our hands on some ice cream...

Overall, I'm very glad we got to stop by this unexpected haven of smoked meats.  We returned to the brisk Chicago weather filled to the brim with warm, comforting, and meaty goodness, shocked at how little damage we had done to our wallets.

Smoque BBQ
3800 N Pulaski Rd
Suite 2
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 545-7427

GET: St. Louis Style Ribs; Pulled Pork; BBQ Beans; Brisket Chili; Cole Slaw; Peach Cobbler.


  1. I want this. The ribs. The slaw. The beans. All of it.

  2. Nice site.

    Next time be sure to try the fries. Just about the best I've ever had.

    1. Thanks! I'll definitely have to give the fries a try next time I get around to going. Unclear why I didn't get them the first time around...


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