Last week Steve Dolinsky stirred up controversy by roasting some of the city’s best-loved (by somebody, anyway) rib joints— most of them places that don’t so much barbecue, i.e. cook over an actual flame, as bake in barbecue sauce in an oven. (Though he did also torch the granddaddy of South Side wood fire joints, Lem’s.) This week he tells us which ribs he approves of— and three of them won’t surprise BBQ devotees a bit, as they include two of the best-loved South Side shacks and a certain North Side sensation.
The one limb he really crawls out on is that of Lillie’s Q. It has been open for all of a couple of weeks and though full of promise, is still as much on its learning curve as any other brand new joint. On the other hand, the obvious omission is the north side spot Honey 1, much beloved by online BBQ geeks, but which has failed to win over such media figures as Kevin Pang and, apparently, Dolinsky. (A sixth slot on the list, we suspect, would have been more likely to go to Big Ed’s in way-the-hell-up-there North Chicago, which Dolinsky reported on very favorably when it first opened.)
If nothing else, the list calls well-deserved attention to two of the great South Side barbecue stands, Barbara Ann’s and Uncle John’s— both of which, incidentally, have had at some point the same masterful pitmaster, Mack Sevier, currently owner of the latter. If the list prompts a few northsiders to venture beyond the Museum of Science and Industry and try these paragons of Chicago’s true indigenous barbecue style, that would be great— though one should note that the quintessential South Side meat isn’t so much slabs of ribs as rib tips. Tips were originally a throwaway cut for the packing houses, picked up on the cheap by canny barbecue men, and that’s why they became the standard for a lunch or dinner anyone on the black South Side could afford.
Top 5 Rib Joints in Chicago [Vocalo]