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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, June 24

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Nuke LaLoosh / June 27, 2007 3:06 PM

"Favorite" is a little bit much, but I am quite partial to Fat Willy's Rib Shack -- everything is smoked on-site and everything from the lemonade to the pies for are homemade in-house.

Nice mix of sweet/spicy sauces, excellent pulled pork, and very tasty ribs. Chicken is pretty great, also.

Nuke LaLoosh / June 27, 2007 3:08 PM

Couldn't find a link, but Fat Willy's is at 2416 W. Schubert, kind of at the border of the Logan Square neighborhood, just off of Western.

Dubi Kaufmann / June 27, 2007 3:18 PM

Pete millers. the best meat I ever had. Grilled meat is nature's prozac. No food makes me smile more than a steak.

d. / June 27, 2007 3:23 PM

i like honey 1 bbq on western (a bit south of fullerton), smoke daddy on division and wood, fat willy's is good too.

all of them are slightly different. i hear good things about smoque on pulaski near irving park, but haven't been there yet.

i think there's another one called woody's was it? maybe i'm wrong. it smelled good!

i've had robinsons once or twice but all i can remember is that they have pretty good sauce.

i love barbecue, it's one of my favorite things, can you tell?! haha.

d. / June 27, 2007 3:24 PM

oh shit, and if you're going to buy meat, the paulina meat market is my absolute favorite place in the world.

everything there is awesome. try their jerky. insane.

Pedro / June 27, 2007 3:27 PM

Fat Willy's is good stuff. Smoke Daddy is also good stuff.

I found out over the weekend that you can get Stubb's (Austin TX) FedEx'd to you. So that will be the plan for the first football Sunday. Stubb's is sooooo good.

PartyPooper / June 27, 2007 3:33 PM

Dear fools who use lighter fluid in your grill:

You people keep stankin' up my whole house with that shit. It gives me headaches and stinks for days. Cut it out before I come over there with a bucket of water.

Get a propane grill you cheap a**holes.

JasonB / June 27, 2007 3:48 PM

Sadly, the best barbecue - that I didn't make myself - came out of the back of a truck at the corner of Washington & LaSalle in the Financial District. They usually hang around the CBOT and MERC around lunchtime, though I haven't seen them in a while. I can't remember the name of the restaurant they work for. Anyone know?

kate / June 27, 2007 4:01 PM

Paulina meat market = yes.

Hopleaf has a stunningly good brisket - not a bbq joint, but damn is that brisket tasty. The rest of the bbq joints I've been to are ok, I haven't had knock-yer-socks-off bbq in forever.

PartyPooper: fuck propane; get a chimney to light the coals.

JasonB / June 27, 2007 4:04 PM

Dear PartyPooper:

Barbecuing on a gas grill is sacrilege, especially in Chicago.

If it bothers you that much, then get your neighbors a charcoal "chimney starter". I haven't used lighter fluid in years.

Chimney Starter

anne / June 27, 2007 4:07 PM

Finally braved Smoque and it was definitely worth it. Have to go back when they're not out of brisket, but the pulled pork and ribs were fabulous.

Fat Willy's wins my vote for a great pairing of movie + dinner with the Showplace movie theater (formerly an AMC) right across the street. plus pretty good pulled pork and s'mores for dessert.

NSH / June 27, 2007 4:07 PM

Ma Ma Moo & Oink!

end of discussion

jen / June 27, 2007 4:09 PM

surely this has nothing to do with this article from the stew today, would it? ;)

unfortuantely, i've only been to smokin' woody's on lincoln in north center/lincoln square - it was tasty. but that article makes me really want to try smoque and honey 1 (though i'm usually across the street at thai eatery...)

mike-ts / June 27, 2007 4:14 PM

I'll second the starter fluid "no" vote. Put a bunch of newspaper (NOT the toxic glossy ads, the paper paper)in the charcoals, and as it burns, it lights the coals, and lights them rather evenly, too. The only thing starter fluid lights is the starter fluid - that's why people have to use so much to get the coals lit. Useless crap.

Propane is for the low of talent and the lazy (unless you're feeding a huge group). Stick with a Foreman and forget bbq'ing if that's the case. 2/3 of the fun of barbecue is food prep and grill prep. God bless Mr. Weber for cutting that bouy in half and making a bbq out of it.

Eamon / June 27, 2007 4:16 PM

Hecky's, Hecky's, Hecky's, Hecky's, Hecky's. Absolutely my favorite, no question.

Mo / June 27, 2007 4:46 PM

As I've said before, I'm from NC, so I lovelovelove eastern NC style barbecue sandwiches. The only place I've found them so far is Dixie Kitchen in Evanston.

As for getting meat for grilling, we go to Paulina Meat Market. That place is a meat palace.

p / June 27, 2007 7:39 PM

hey partypooper- advocating use of gas grills vs. charcoal + saying charcoal-grill users do so because they're cheap + threatening to toss water on someone else's coals mid-smolder= I'd like to paint a park red with your thin obtuse blood. I hope you live forever. Chimney stack is the no-lighterfluid sollution tho.

Paulina is great. Fox & Obel is also beyond superb- and with friendly helpful staff behind the counter. $$ but worth it. And get some corn from anywhere and get busy with that Elote Loco- it's simple and will change your life. And if you are sleeping on dry-rubbed beer can chickens or coca-cola based bbq sauces stop it and join us over here living the good life.

Steve / June 27, 2007 7:58 PM

Out here in the hinterlands there is but one place I'll go to for BBQ: Uncle Bub's in Westmont. You know it's good because they took a day off from serving so Larry the Cable Guy could do some filming on-site. (Help. Please?)

I do the best BBQ ever. I'm mastering my skills with the smoked pork tenderloin -- my friends tell me it's good, anyway.
Next step is to get a dedicated smoker; the indirect grill will only take you so far. Still figuring out which wood to add to my coals -- experimenting with hickory, cherry, apple and pine. (That last one's a joke.) And I mainly buy my meat at the Costco, because that's how we roll in DuPage.

Brian / June 27, 2007 10:01 PM

Not to up on the BBQ joints around town, but when grilling myself, I get my meats (and vegetable goodness like baking potatoes and corn-in-husk for making roasted corn) at Pete's Fresh Market. Hands down, best meat on the SW side of town.

J / June 27, 2007 11:54 PM

I'll give you Costco so you can experiment and master your skills. But once attained, the only place in DuPage County for the best choice and prime meat is Prime n Tender on York in Hinsdale.

Steve / June 28, 2007 12:23 AM

Prime meat? It's BBQ, son! The taste is in the technique!

Cletus Warhol / June 28, 2007 12:45 AM

I third Honey 1. Their Rib Tips are the best meat product on this earth. Get them with the sauce on the side, because they are so juicy and tender they don't even need any (of course their sauce is so good you end up using it anyway). I am totally powerless over them.

Damn, I starting to jones just thinking about it. The only thing that saves me is I hardly ever get down that way. If they delivered I'd be a coronary case in a year.

mike / June 28, 2007 8:54 AM

Robinson's. Mostly because I've grown up eating his BBQ. I've loved it ever since he used to make it for our neighborhood block parties back in the late '70s and early '80s.

Winediva / June 28, 2007 9:06 AM

In my hood, Smokin' Woody's on Lincoln can be great, but sadly inconsistant. Usually great - with an occasional bout of dry ribs or chicken.

As for buying my own, I have to add more kudos to Paulina Meat Market. They've got great butchers and super high quality meat. As far as steaks go (which are technically grilled, not BBQ .) they have a selection of choice, prime, and Tallgrass organic. If I'm cooking for a crowd though, CostCo on Clybourn has really decent stuff. Particularly lamb.

Chimney starters on charcoal or hard wood are the only way to go. Lighther fluid? What kind of dumbass uses lighter fluid?

The only person who should be grilling or BBQing with propane is Hank Hill.

Nuke LaLoosh / June 28, 2007 9:47 AM

Grillin' yer own: Let me 2nd (or 23rd) the great meat at Paulina Meat Market.

Also, chimmney starters rule. No muss, no fuss, no lighter fluid.

I have a small gas and a small charcoal grill. While I prefer the coal (you can really infuse the flavor with those smoking wood chips), I tend to use the gas more often; it just takes less time.

Lettin' somebody else do it:

Regarding Smokin' Woody's on Lincoln -- I've had a good sandwich there, but their sauce is a little heavy on the vinegar for my particular taste; also, I agree, they can be a little up and down in the quality of the food.

I've been to Smoke Daddy and thought it was a good meal (and generally more consistent quality than at Smokin' Woody's). Given a choice between Smoke Daddy and Fat Willy's, however, I would choose to eat at Fat Willy's.

Note -- I really like the fact that Smoke Daddy has some live music, but with all due respect, I have found the bar staff there to be a little flaky to the extent that it gave me a bad experience.

In the name of Steven Raichlen, amen.

editorkid / June 28, 2007 10:10 AM

One cannot barbecue on propane. Barbecue is cooking low and slow over indirect heat; cooking over direct, high heat is grilling.

I've been a regular at Paulina Meat Market for nearly a decade. Their gyros sausages (lamb & beef mixture) may be one of humanity's greatest inventions, but it's hard to go wrong there, and they love to talk about meat and cooking techniques and all that. Thursday nights are best because they're open a little late and not that crowded.

I tried Honey 1 once with a group of foodie friends who dearly love the place and, while I appreciate Robert's efforts, I didn't understand the fuss people make over the results. It's OK. I sure don't get why people love it but I'm not going to tell people they don't or shouldn't; I'm just not going to waste time, money, and calories on going back myself. (Sometimes I wish I weren't so aware of ambiance, but Honey 1's dining area isn't as nice as a typical McDonald's, and a little more effort there might help all around. This isn't a white-tablecloth issue. Even cable-spool tables with butcher paper would be an improvement.)

Fat Willy's and Smokin' Woody's have their moments but (as others have noted) are pretty inconsistent. I've been to Barbara Ann's only once; it remains the best I've had in this city, but I remain convinced that Chicago isn't much of a barbecue town. I know there are many passionate individuals who make wonderful barbecue for themselves, and maybe someday they'll open storefronts too and things will improve.

Spook / June 28, 2007 10:33 AM

You people are soooooooo pathetic!

Couldn’t ya at least, pretend, to know a real BBQ house in CHICAGO?

Hecky’s in Evanston?! Come on son! How can you say that!!

Gawd I can picture it now.... a bunch of old A@S wrinkly prune Northwestern professors- feeling all cultured up- getting thier proverbial Soul Train on by smacking their yellowed dentures on Hecky’s Preppy Que at a “back yard B.BQ” in Skokie! Like Sil from the Soprano’s said

I can see why this is the most segregated city in the Nation!

Fat Willy’s? Ha! But at least they do use something called BBQ sauce instead of that some what spicy ketchup they paint on at “Hecky’s Preppy Q”

And if some one says Ribs & Bibs, Smoking Woodies or Calvin’s I will hunt you down and kill like cockroachs, like Bush said he’d do to Bin Laden.

Yes NHS, Moo and Oink, has some decent slabs and tips for cheap, But Costco is closer and almost as good.

But for cooked, Its Lems on 75th Street with out question! I mean why do you think they buried the late Great Mayor Harold Washington across the street? Or there's Barbara Ann's on Cottage Grove.

Rumor has it that your Spook uses a double decker water smoker, hickory chips and wood, and hardwood lump charcoal( from Trader Joes or Whole Foods), to serve up some of the meanest BBQ after 6 hours of grilling and smoking, this side of New Orleans! Yea I’ll be your huckleberry, What!

SR / June 28, 2007 10:43 AM

Leon's. At the 79th, Stony Island, and South Chicago intersection.

Nuke LaLoosh / June 28, 2007 10:52 AM

Editorkid: You are so right; note that in my post, I refer to "grillin'," not BBQ, when I make the gas reference.

BBQ = food exposed to low heat for a long period of time; flavor is infused with rubs and marinades, sure, but much of the flavor comes from the smokiness of the cooking process.

Grilling = food exposed to medium-to-high heat for a short period of time; flavor comes from rubs and marinades, sure, but a good portion of the flavor comes from the searing/charring that occurs over high heat.

Spook: hook me up, bro, with that sweet, sweet meat. Sounds good. Note, however, that Fat Willy's does smoke their meat for a long period of time on-site. Don't disrespect the Bing.

editorkid / June 28, 2007 11:10 AM

If it's any consolation, Spook, at least no one's lamenting the loss of Carson's.

I do miss NN Smokehouse. The oddly named Smoke Country House that replaced it was so awful.

Professor Marx - NU Wildcats / June 28, 2007 11:26 AM

What's this BBQ thing you people keep talking about?

I love learning more and more about the proletariat. You people are very interesting.

Clint / June 28, 2007 11:37 AM

All these places you folks mention are okay for burnt meat, but there's nothing bar-b-q about it. Chicago has mastered a lot of good food, but this town knows nothing about how to really cook meat. If you want good BBQ, you have to leave town.

Best I've ever had: Old Hickory in Owensboro, Ky., self-proclaimed Bar-B-Q Capital of the World. (And yes, that's how they spell it.)

skafiend / June 28, 2007 11:47 AM

Spook... you kill me. Second you on the Lems tip (no pun intended)

But I gotta ask... you go to Whole Foods??? Please post a photo somewhere. Would love to see you in your army fatigues and Huey Newton t-shirt strolling past the organic arugala and baby portobello mushrooms for some hardwood hickory charcoal or whatever it is.

and Nuke: Spook: hook me up, bro, with that sweet, sweet meat

get a room, you two... lol

Spook / June 28, 2007 12:48 PM

Yo Ska, son!
you gotta get the hickory from Home Depot, the charcoal comes from Whole Foods or Trader's!

And I cold likes roll'n
down the aisles of Whole Foods, scowling, looking all hard and sh*t, mean yo, making the yupps part like the Red Sea cause I might just do sum’ n.
Besides ya never know who ya might bump up into there, perhaps not
Huey P., -RIP- but perhaps former CIA informant/ U.S Cong. Bobby Rush!

And yea Nuke LaLoosh, as I believe in keeping it real street and socratic and all that, I have to admit that a Spook has been spotted on occasion at Fat Willy's. It aint bad for Northside BBQ and they do serve drinks.

Hummmm I bet Blagg The Ax Man tosses a whole live Wooly Mammoth on the grill.

Ad where the heck is allan?

cliff @ Berwyn / June 28, 2007 12:53 PM

In the city I'm all about Honey 1 (rib tips are a solid choice) and Smoque (St Louis style ribs pull apart and are dry-rubbed deliciousness). Honey 1's sauce tends to be a little more Texas style in that it seems to have either more molassas or brown sugar in it. Smoque's sauce seems to have some brown sugar in it, but leans more towards a vinegar base (which is what I prefer, a thin, South Carolina Vinegar and Mustard base is the best! In my opinion...).

I also prefer to start the meal without the sauce, and add it a little at a time either as a dressing or as a dip.

But I'd rather slow-smoke my own. I recently found the hardwood charcoal at Trader Joes and love using that with lump hickory soaked overnight.

Best cuts of meat? Not so sure, but I'm definitely visiting the Paulina Meat Market soon!

kleinstadt / June 28, 2007 1:02 PM

My old roommate bought a smoker and would smoke a pork butt for like 18 hours or something ridiculous. Thems was some good eatin'.

From his research, all the folks who compete in the national barbeque cook-offs get their meat at Costco, FWIW.

Spook / June 28, 2007 1:07 PM

Oh and SR!

Thanks for reminding me to call Immigration to raid
Leon’s BBQ at 79th, Stony Island, and South Chicago intersection.

That’s what happens when a, mega poverty pimping U of C funded property owning, Give him his "Daley" bread Reverend, goes into the BBQ Business! Or is it the other way around?

Bill V / June 28, 2007 1:36 PM

Smoque is fantastic! Did have Fat Willy's a couple months ago, very good too.

Paulina Market for meats, but it'll cost ya'.

Brian / June 28, 2007 1:39 PM

Owensboro, KY?!? Please. They don't know their a$$es from a hole in the ground.

It's all about Memphis.

And if you go to Memphis (Easy to get to, too! Just get on the Stevenson and don't stop until you get to Memphis), don't wimp out and go to Corky's in Germantown or the Whitt's chain. No. You go to places like Central BBQ, Charlie Vergo's, Leonard's Pit BBQ, or Payne's. Then and only then will you know what real BBQ is.

Carlos / June 28, 2007 2:07 PM

I'll have to go with Brian and say Corky's in Memphis is one of the best BBQ places anywhere.

SR / June 28, 2007 2:18 PM

Yes, Reverend Finney's politics are "contentious" to say the least..... but, it's good bbq!

Winediva / June 28, 2007 5:34 PM

Well if we're chatting about pilgrimages to BBQ joints out of town, one of the best in the midwest is downstate, near Carbondale. Matt "The Legend" Mills is the pitmaster at The 17th Street Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, IL and he is a BBQ rockstar. (yes, I know "Bar & Grill" and Murphysboro will worry folks. Trust me on this one.)

Mills and his competition BBQ team are the only three timeWorld Champs at Memphis in May and he was a consultant to Danny Meyer and Blue Smoke in NYC.

Its not a bad drive from St. Louis as far as road trips go.

sadly, I generally choose to order beer or bourbon there, but they do get props for trying to support IL wineries.

Winediva / June 28, 2007 10:02 PM

oh! Know what else?! West Town tavern does BBQ spare ribs on Wed nights and they're really really good. Plus, starting July 17 - you can "supersize" it with a glass of Murphy Goode Liars Dice Zin and a piece of lemon chess pie for $10. Come to think of it...that would make a good drive thru post...hmmmm....

printdude / June 29, 2007 10:57 AM

Best Bought BBQ I've ever had was at a Roadside shack just outside of Savannah; the joint was called Mother's. I missed it the first time I drove past it, smelled it and noted it for further inspection. After stopping on the second pass, I shall never pass this place without sampling the fine product.

I do love the home-cooking BBQ, though. Twice a year we'll take the time.
Otherwise it's mainly a grilling thing.

Steak from the local butchers, sausages from the bobak's (check out them damn GrillerS!), veggies from West Lawn market.
Beers from Archer Liquors.

Can we get spook enough meat to feed us all?

paul / July 2, 2007 9:12 AM

Whole Foods for charcoal? You're going to pay more per pound for your wood than your meat? Big huge 20lb bags of chunk charcoal and real hickory or mesquite wood chunks (chips are for wusses) can be found at many independent markets (Oakton, Lincolnwood i.e. ) for about half the price per lb. of Whole Foods. The brand of wood Home Depot sells is invariably moldy when ever I buy it there.

Those independents are where I get my meat too. I've fallen in love with many a leg of lamb at the afore mentioned at half the price of Paulina (although they certainly sell a better quality).

Dee / July 10, 2007 1:02 PM

Fat Willy's bbq is not the best in Chicago by any means, I went for the first tme 7/9/07, ordered rib tips, arrived home, opened the container and I saw Big Fat Ham Hocks, do they know the meaning of "Tips"? Then I called the manager who said the ribs are pre-cut, they are cheaper this way and the meat is much tougher to chew plus they do not even have a hatchet inthe kitchen to cut the meat to your preference. Try Ribs Unlimited on 79th & Loomis, now that's rib tips.

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