I know. Pulled pork sandwiches and brisket sound southern, but they have a place, and plenty of fans in Chicago. If you have never tried brisket (minus the vegetarians and vegans), do yourself a favor and go get some. Chicago is a city of foodies and they are not disappointed, especially in the realm of BBQ. I recommend two places. The best place to get some good BBQ is located in Avondale. It is Pork Shoppe, which is known for beer, bourbon and BBQ. The meat is so tender and juicy and mixed with the tangy BBQ sauce, it really is one of the best sandwiches, nay, meals that I have ever had. Just get one sandwich and you might not be able to finish it.
My foodie evening began with a stop at Reeds Local to plan a party. Yelp does not lie. Reed’s Local has nearly five stars. If you see a red head, her name is Melissa and she is the co-owner and one amazing woman. Reed’s Local is a full-service bar. But there are so many good food spots nearby that the lack of food is unnoticed and even welcome when throwing parties. After having a drink there, I went to catch Bus 77 Belmont back to the east side of Chicago.
I was standing outside, and I smelt it. The BBQ. I looked beside me, and there it was—Pork Shoppe,conveniently located behind the bus stop, litterally a few steps away. I looked at Pork Shoppe and then swung my head in the opposite direction. There was no bus coming. The woman hugging herself next to me to keep warm said she had been waiting for a bit. It was confirmed, I had to go in. I went inside and basked in the welcoming warmth, following the sweet and savory smells. It took a good 15 minutes to prepare my pulled pork sandwich, so be willing to forgo the next bus if you take public transport. For me, my meal was bagged and ready to go at the same time the bus came.
The runner-up for best Chicago BBQ is Smoque BBQ. They are serious about BBQ. They have a manifesto. Smoque BBQ is in the Irving Park neighborhood right off of Pulaski. The second that you park, you can tell this place is casual. There are no waitors. You go to the counter to order, you fill up your cup at the soda fountain. Grab napkins because it’s about to get messy. BBQ is afterall all about the sauce. The brisket you are about to enjoy has been waiting for you for over 13 hours. I went here on a date, and I had never heard of brisket before going. So, for all of those on the same page, brisket can either be beef brisket or veal brisket. It is derived from the chest area, and because of the connective tissue, has to be properly prepared to reach true tenderness. People love this place. At times the restaurant forwent additional customers in the name of quality BBQ. So, dear foodie, I invite you to try what the Zagat, Chicago Reader, Gourmet, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicagoist have all raved about—Smoque BBQ brisket.