Okay, here we go. There’s not much I know, but I do know barbecue, and I concur that good barbecue in Chicago is a rare thing indeed. However, it does exist if you’re willing to look and take a few chances. I didn’t know how absent good ‘que was in Chicago until I met my Kansas City bride to be. Once I knew what real barbecue was supposed to taste like, I realized I had wasted the first twenty years of my life.
My favorites in Chicago are Country Smoke House on Irving Park between Ashland and Southport, LT’s Grill at Grand and Wood, and Texan BBQ and Chili House in Algonquin (corner of Rt. 31 and Rt. 62).
Years ago we used to go to a northside Leon’s location on Chicago Avenue near Cabrini-Green. It was great stuff but sadly, didn’t last very long in that location. I’ve never been to Lem’s, but have heard good things. Likewise Uncle Bub’s and Baby Joe’s. I’ve never been impressed with Merle’s or Hecky’s in Evanston or any of Robinson’s locations. And please, don’t get me started on the tourist barbecue at Carson’s, Twin Anchors, and The Gale Street Inn. The only way any of those ribs would ever see any smoke would be if the kitchen caught fire. Carson’s does use charcoal but not raw wood. Also, the fact that Russel’s is a local favorite just speaks to the lack of contact Chicagoans have with real BBQ. next time you go to Russel’s stand outside for a few minutes. if you don’t smell any smoke, get in the car and leave. I can already tell you you’re going to be looking for another place to eat.
Oh yeah, Edith’s was a great experience that went away far too soon. I think the fry machine actually spit out mashed potatoes in a shoe-string fry shape. It was weird but oddly enough it made a tasty french fry.