Lem’s Bar-B-Q | South Side Chicago’s Aquarium BBQ

Review by: Michael Stern

Taste Chicago’s South Side

Lem’s stands as a beacon of South Side barbecue. It dates back to 1954, when brothers Bruce and Myles Lemons created the aquarium BBQ cooker. The cooker got its name because its tempered glass walls show the meat as it slow-cooks. This type of barbecue pit has since become a signature of Chicago’s South Side, along with the rib tips that Lem’s introduced as a less expensive but perhaps even more succulent alternative to whole racks of ribs.

Lem’s Ribs Rule

The rib racks that come from the aquarium BBQ define soulfulness. The big, meaty bats pack all the lascivious fatty flavor and satisfying chew that baby backs simply do not deliver. Also, pay attention to Lem’s hot links. These plump, rugged-textured sausages come with barbecue sauce, French fries, and white bread. The white bread serves an important purpose: sopping up the last of Lem’s kaleidoscopic sauce.

Sauce Matters

Speaking of sauce. Chicago BBQ, as in many Midwestern cities, relies deeply on it. Like the blues, which came up from the South and found a whole new personality when electrified up north, so BBQ was transformed when it made the trip to the Midwest and got electrified by sauce. Chicago in particular stands as a sauce-centric BBQ city.

Note: there are no dining facilities at Lem’s. All business is take-out.

What To Eat

BBQ Ribs

Hot Link


Lem’s Bar-B-Q | South Side Chicago’s Aquarium BBQ Recipes


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